The death of a child is the most devastating loss.
It is not the natural order of life for a child to die before their parents, and no parent is prepared for their child’s death. The shock and disbelief can be overwhelming, particularly if the death occurred suddenly.
Parents and siblings lives are changed forever, and it can take days and weeks to comprehend emotionally what has happened. Parents often experience a paralysing sense of the surreal, and may be unable to express their grief in any visible way.
You will want to inform close family and friends, and you may find it helpful to share this task with other family members and/or friends, as it can involve many upsetting and stressful phone calls. You only need to make essential calls initially.
Give yourself time to gather your thoughts, before making non-essential contacts. You will need to consider if a phone call is appropriate, or would face to face be better, and who is the most appropriate person to do this. Children will pick up on the changes in the adults around them, so it is best to be honest and explain in words they can understand, what has happened.
At this early stage, it is important to realise that while decisions need to be made, you have time to carefully consider all of your options before finalising funeral arrangements or even selecting a funeral director. You will have to make decisions of important consequence, when you are usually least able to think with any degree of clarity. Arranging a funeral service is the last physical act of caring for your child, and so it can seem like a formidable task. Do not feel pressured into making immediate decisions before you have had an opportunity to discuss your needs with family and friends and talked over your various options.
If there are no religious or spiritual reasons to act within a short time frame, it is very important to take time, slow things down and if you wish, be involved in the arranging of your child’s funeral.