Personalising a funeral is an excellent way to create a more meaningful experience to celebrate your child’s life.
Many of the suggestions in this section can be organised by your funeral director, or alternatively, you can organise these yourself.
Involving Brothers and Sisters: Parents will need to decide whether to include their other children in the funeral service. It can be helpful for siblings to take a role in the service by reading a poem/letter/story, giving a gift/letter/drawing to go with their deceased sibling, or even drawing pictures on the coffin. Talking together as a family and creating memories can make children feel close and included. Depending on the age of the children, it may be important to ask another adult who they are familiar with, to be available to care for them during the service. It may also be helpful to prepare them for what they might see and hear, before, during and after the funeral. It is important that they understand that the people at the funeral will express their sadness in different ways, and that some of them may be crying and upset.
Friends: For older children, you can include their friends in the service by asking them to read a favourite poem, sing a favourite song or play an instrument. They can also be involved in lighting candles, placing flowers or forming a guard of honour.
Memory Book: Rather than guests at the service simply recording their name in a book, ask that they take the time to write down a story or a particular memory that they have of your child. The funeral director will organise this for you and will most likely suggest that they hand the book around before, during and after the service, to capture as many memories as possible.
Flowers: Consider flower arrangements shaped like animals such as teddy bears or favourite cartoon characters or your child’s name. You may prefer a small posey of flowers, or alternatively to have lots of single flowers to cover the coffin and surrounds.
Transport: Funeral directors can use a traditional hearse (some funeral directors decorate the hearse with toys, decals and fabric suitable for the child’s age), or sometimes use a smaller car for transporting your child to the funeral service. It may be possible for you to use your own vehicle for babies and infants.
Funeral Photography: At funeral services, the usual taking of pictures often doesn’t happen, as the family and friends are emotionally involved in the proceedings. There is only one chance to capture some of the wonderful, heartfelt things that happen on the day and sadly it is lost forever.
A funeral photographer provides a memento of these precious last moments, by discreetly recording the service. This can either be in photographs to be placed in a memory book, or a video. This allows you to be able to see the people who attended the service to show their love and support and pay their last respects. You can also review the special moments during the service, and the small but important details you may have missed which can be of great comfort.
Some cemetery/crematorium chapels have facilities to record the ‘service only’.
See our articles on ‘Personalising a Funeral’ on our website for more information. You will find suggestions for the releasing of doves, butterflies, bubbles, having family pets attend the service, music and many more options.