Funerals are always difficult occasions, a mix of the sweet and the sad as you remember someone's life but mourn their passing. As hard as it all is for adults, children can find the experience of losing somebody even more difficult, particularly if they're young and are struggling to fully understand what's happening.
A great way to help children come to terms with their loss and cope with their grief is to get them involved with the funeral. The extent of a child's involvement depends on how well you think they'll manage with the various things they could do, but here are some ideas to get you going.
Making decisions on the service
A nice way for children to be involved in planning a funeral is to get them involved with all the decisions that need to be made. It's something they often enjoy, too. Things like choosing music, poems or passages to be read and photos to be displayed let the child know they're important and you understand their grief.
Writing the eulogy
The eulogy is normally given by an adult, but that doesn't mean a child can't help with writing it. They'll often have a different perspective on the deceased person and special memories adults haven't considered. Take the time to ask how they'll remember the person, and work it into the eulogy.
Giving a reading
Many children feel too nervous to stand up in front of everyone and speak, but for those who are brave enough, it can be an effective part of their grieving process. Choose an appropriate reading together, and give the child plenty of time to practice. It's a good idea to have a backup plan, though, just in case they feel too upset on the day.
Creating something special
Whether it's a drawing, a beautifully decorated handwritten message or something crafted especially for the occasion, letting a child make something to commemorate the person on their funeral day is a lovely way to get them involved. It can be placed on the coffin, left at the graveside or displayed in the venue. Wherever it's used, it's something the child can be proud of and know that they played an important part.
Helping out on the day
There are plenty of small tasks a child can perform at the funeral service, helping everything go smoothly and having something to keep them busy. One particularly nice one is giving them service programmes or memorial cards to hand out as people arrive, so they'll be the first face people see when they get to the funeral venue.
For additional help with planning a funeral, contact funeral director.