Your child’s death may be the first time that you have been involved in arranging a funeral and it may become your final act of caring for him or her.
TCF’s leaflet Preparing Our Child’s Funeral offers some suggestions for something nobody expects to have to arrange. There are many things to consider and you should take as much time as you need, the decisions you make now will be with you forever. These will include deciding on a funeral director; deciding between burial and cremation (unless this is dictated by your religion); deciding what to do with your child’s ashes if he or she is cremated.
There is the question of whether or not to see your child’s body; whether to take photographs or a memento such as a lock of hair; whether to place a favourite possessions or a message in the coffin; whether to have the coffin resting at home in the days before the funeral; whether to allow younger children to be present.
You will also need to consider who will conduct the funeral. If you are religious, it will most likely be your own clergyman or woman; if not, you may ask a member of the British Humanist Association or a person who has been important in your child’s life to officiate. There may be music and readings to choose; the question of whether to film; and how to find a way for those present to participate.
You might also want to consider flowers, a Book of Condolence, a memorial plaque somewhere and/or a donation to charity. Finally there are the questions of a reception, a newspaper announcement, and of course the cost of the funeral.
The Citizens Advice Bureau has extensive information about funerals, which you may find helpful.
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions but discussing them, even with younger members of the family, may help with grieving.
Each year thousands of parents suffer the loss of a son or a daughter. Please help us to support families in their time of greatest need.