The funeral ceremony provides a very important opportunity to say goodbye to your child.
The service, wake and other acts of remembrance provide a chance to celebrate your child’s life and pay tribute to the indelible mark that life has left on the world.
This is a time for family and friends to come together in grief, share memories and show their support in a tangible demonstration of love.
Involve Family and Friends
Many families involve relatives, friends, teachers or other people of significance to their child. For example by giving readings or sharing their memories. You may also ask such people to carry the casket or be ushers.
Involve guests in an act of honour during the service.
wearing your child’s favourite colour
sprinkling seeds in a memorial garden
placing a flower on the casket or in the grave
writing a memory on a helium balloon and releasing it
placing a photograph, drawing or written memory on a special board
Service cards can be printed and kept by guests. You can include your child’s photographs, pictures of artwork or a message that you wrote together before your child died.
Ask the funeral director to provide cards on which guests can write their name and a message. Ask the person leading the service to remind guests to place these cards in a specific location before leaving. The cards will enable you to know and remember who attended the service.
Children of all ages should be allowed to attend the funeral if they wish. They will need some preparation beforehand so they know what to expect. They must be given plenty of opportunity to ask questions, and should be given simple, honest answers.
Things children need to know include:
the type of service and what it means
if the casket will be there and if it will be open
what type of building and room they are going to
who will be there and how they may act (such as crying or giving lots of hugs)
who will stay with them
how long they will be there
what they will be expected to say during the service, if anything
This will help children grieve, both now and later on. Even young children can be involved. Talk to your other children and the friends of your child who has died about whether they want to be present or not. Ask whether they would like to be actively involved in the service and what they would feel comfortable doing (e.g. reading a poem or sharing a memory).
A wake is a social gathering after a funeral, and can be whatever you want it to be. You may wish to hold it at your home or in a hall, club, hotel or other private establishment.
Consider whether you wish to ask friends to prepare food, hire caterers or simply make a booking at a hotel, pub or club. Also consider whether you would like everyone to attend, or just family and close friends.