Being involved in the funeral experience can help children further understand death, grief, and the importance of honoring someone’s life. Depending on the child’s age, families and funeral professionals should work together to find age-appropriate ways for them to participate in the funeral.
Dr. Alan Wolfelt discusses in his novel, Creating Meaningful Funeral Experiences, the importance of including children in the funeral experience. We want to expand on this idea and provide suggestions for children’s funeral involvement.
Children Involvement in Funeral Planning
When funeral planning, besides determining the main funeral arrangements, there also are little details to figure out. These provide many simple, yet meaningful ways children can be involved and add some personalization, such as:
- Finding photos for their loved one’s Tribute Video. They can help look through their family’s old photo albums and find their favorite photos of their loved one.
- Decorating memorial displays about their loved one. They can help arrange decorations on the memorial display to create a personalized tribute to proudly display at the funeral.
- Choosing special readings, songs, prayers, poems, or quotes to include in the funeral service. They can help their family members find the perfect songs and readings to represent their loved one.
- Writing or drawing something to put inside the casket. This lets them pay tribute to their loved one and honor their memory.
- Selecting the post-funeral reception food menu. They can help their family members choose the food and be their assistant in the kitchen to make the dishes.
Children Involvement in Funeral Service
During the funeral service, there are many ways to include children in the events. Whether they’re comfortable with public speaking or would rather do something more behind-the-scenes, there are several options, such as:
- Depending on religious beliefs, participating in a part of the church funeral service, such as lighting a candle.
- Reading a poem or performing a song during the funeral service. These also could be done in groups to make everyone more comfortable.
- Helping set up the memorial displays for the visitation and funeral service. They also can help arrange the funeral flowers and any sympathy flowers that people delivered to the funeral location. If donating the flowers to local hospitals, nursing homes, or hospice centers after the service, they can help to deliver them.
- Sharing memories aloud with funeral guests or writing them down to put in a memory box. They can create a memory box from a shoe box for funeral guests to put their memories inside.
- Being a greeter at the visitation. They can simply greet those arriving at the funeral visitation and tell them where to sign the funeral register book and other information.
It may be a good idea to have a separate room dedicated to children during the funeral service. That way, they have somewhere to go if they need some time away from the funeral activities.
What other ways can you involve children in the funeral? Share your ideas in the comments below!