Burying a child is a nightmare that no parent should ever have to face. Unfortunately, however, parents do have to face this on a daily basis. While death is always something of a surprise, even when it is anticipated, it is never more heart-wrenching and shocking then when the deceased is an infant or a child. Most parents are simply not prepared for it; they never believed that instead of planning a celebration for their child they would be planning a funeral.
Here are three important things to remember if you are faced with this incredibly difficult and tragic task:
1. Take Your Time
In every respect, do not let anyone rush you. This might mean postponing the funeral for a few days so that you are able to spend time with your child and find some semblance of closure. It might also mean taking as long as you need to plan a memorial service that is in keeping with your child’s short but meaningful life. And of course, take the time to grieve and connect with others who share your loss.
2. Consider a Service That Celebrates Instead of Mourns
Some families have found it useful to hold non-traditional funerals and memorial services to honor their child’s life and vitality, in contrast to a standard funeral. For example, one mother describes her use of a Dr. Seuss quote as the theme for the service as well as asking everyone to dress in her child’s favorite color instead of black. Remembering your child in the bright light in which they were born and loved may be the healing balm you need on this difficult day.
3. Create Memories
Your time with your baby was cut tragically short, but you still have the opportunity to create memories. Some families have found it useful to make and keep ceramic footprints or holding on to a lock of their child’s hair. However, there is no wrong way to memorialize your child—you may also consider planting a beautiful flower in their honor, or even simply creating a memory book with photos and mementos.
Losing a child is unbearable. Our hearts bleed for the parents that have had to experience this awful pain. The most important thing to remember when planning a child’s funeral is that this is your way to say goodbye, so do it exactly the way that you want. There are no rules to follow because how do you apply any kind of rules to something that transgresses the very nature of our existence?