Funeral directors are often asked about children attending the funeral service and what role, if any, the children could play. With the increase in life celebration funerals and non-traditional funeral services, there has been an increase in the involvement of children.
There are many gentle ways children can provide a tribute to the deceased. We have outlined some different suggestions that our funeral directors have seen families use.
Some families select a cardboard coffin that can then be decorated by the deceased family and friends. Children may choose to write a letter or draw a picture that can be attached to the coffin.
As part of the funeral service, children may wish to participate by reading a tribute, poem, or letter to the deceased. Funeral directors encourage children to have their tribute written so that support can be provided if they find it overwhelming when they read it.
If an ‘Acknowledgment of Country’ is being read at the start of the funeral service a child may be comfortable reading the acknowledgment as they are familiar with this from school events.
Inviting mourners, including children, to place a flower on the coffin may provide some comfort.
Our funeral directors can provide paper and pens for children to write a message or draw a picture for the deceased during the funeral service. This can then be placed on the coffin.
Lighting a candle as a tribute to the deceased can also be a gentle way of having children involved in the funeral service, especially if they are not comfortable with reading.
Children who are musically inclined may wish to play a tribute to the deceased during the funeral service. This can be a beautiful way of remembering the deceased.
A pre-recorded tribute can be played during the ceremony as sometimes children may find this less confronting the standing in front of a crowd. The video recording can then be included as part of the ceremony and even included in the livestreaming of the event.
Some cultures and families may choose to have a viewing as part of the funeral process; children may find comfort in saying goodbye to the deceased with a viewing. Particularly if the last time the child saw the deceased was in a hospital or if they did not have the opportunity to say goodbye, it could be comforting to see the deceased at a viewing.
For a scattering ashes ceremony children can be involved with reading a tribute or scattering flower petals. Our funeral directors can assist families in finding a suitable scattering urn.
Outdoor funerals can be good for children; the natural elements around us during the funeral service can provide comfort for children, such as a bird flying past during a service or a butterfly fluttering by. Further information on funeral venues can be found here VENUES
As with all elements of the funeral service, there are no rules about what needs to be done. Speak to your funeral director about what your family is comfortable with.
You know your children the best and would be able to gauge what they are comfortable with.
If you find you or your family member are struggling with grief and need some additional support, Picaluna partners with Griefline, a free community support service; visit https://griefline.org.au/ or call 1300 845 745.