The death of a loved one has a lifelong effect on our children whether they attend the funeral of their loved one or not. Preparing your child and giving them choice at an age appropriate level is the most important key. Children are our little people with big hearts.
So many times, we as funeral director’s speak with adults who were never given permission or opportunity as children to say farewell. This creates such deep hurt that is carried throughout life.
Below are some tips for preparing your child:
- Give them clear and concise information about the funeral service
- Who will be at the funeral
- Where the funeral will take place
- Explain the “order of service” e.g. Why we are playing certain music, what is a eulogy, the beliefs of the deceased, what is a wake.
- How long the funeral service will go for
- What is expected of the child
Should your child have a viewing of the deceased? Some points to be aware of and explain to your child if you both decide on a viewing of the deceased:
- Please note that at Swanborough Funerals, we use the preservation method of embalming, therefore the deceased is not cold (the other preservation method used in many funeral homes is refrigeration at between 2ºc-4ºc )
- This may sound silly for an adult, but for a child it is important to explain – that the deceased cannot feel anything (you may like to say they are not in pain anymore), they cannot hear or talk, that breath has left the body and they cannot come back to life
- It is very important to talk about your family spiritual beliefs
- Children need to feel safe, secure and be given permission to express how they are feeling during the viewing time
- You may like to suggest they write a letter, draw a picture or place a special treasure or photo in the coffin for the departed loved one.
Depending on the relationship of the child to the deceased, you may wish to include them in some of the decisions. Below are some ideas:
- Get them to choose “grandma’s favourite jewellery, clothing or perfume to wear”
- A special song to play that reminds them of the deceased
- Include them in the choices of photos, should you have a DVD photo presentation played at the memorial service
- They may like to write something to have read, or read a tribute at the funeral service e.g. “My five favourite memories of Grandma”
- The release of a helium filled balloon at the conclusion of the funeral service is often a special memory and wonderful symbol for a child. Other options include the release of butterflies or doves.
We believe that a funeral service is an important and healing time for all family members. Funerals do not have to be seen as “scary” for a child but a way in which they can see how much all who attend the service loved the person that they also loved.
Swanborough Funerals have detailed just a few suggestions for parents and carers to assist you in preparing your child for a funeral service. If you have other suggestions that would help families during this time, we would love to hear from you on the Swanborough Funerals News page or Facebook page.