Simply attending the funeral will help your child begin processing his or her grief. But whenever possible, consider including youth of all ages in the planning of the funeral/memorial service to help them feel connected and involved.
Let your child’s comfort level guide you when sharing ideas about how he or she can express his or her feelings, and honor your loved one in a meaningful way. Be certain that your child understands that participation is his or her decision, and that, at any point, he or she can change his or her mind about the level of involvement.
Consider asking your funeral director, clergy or celebrant for suggestions on youth involvement, or incorporate some of the following activities:
Prior to the funeral
Draw a picture or write a letter to place in the casket or beside the urn.
Select special photographs or items, and help arrange a picture board, video tribute or memorial table; share special stories and memories during the activity.
Older children may want to help with arrangements, such as selecting a casket or an urn, or the readings and music for the service.
During the funeral events
Greet the guests, hand out memorial cards or direct people to the registration book.
Participate in the final closing of the casket.
Start the ceremony by placing a flower on the casket or in front of a memorial portrait.
Share a poem, reading or reflection; sing a song or play an instrument.
Serve as a pallbearer or casket escort.
Participate in religious customs.
Distribute flowers to family and friends gathered at the cemetery.
Place a memento at the graveside, such as a plant or stuffed animal.
Share special memories over your loved one’s favorite meal.