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Funeral Guide

Nurturing a Child Through the Journey of Loss

Grief can affect us all, and it can be hard enough to help anyone through the process of dealing with and understanding loss. It can be an extra challenge to know how to talk to and help a child who has experienced loss in any capacity. 

Whether you’re a parent, carer, guardian, godparent, grandparent, or older sibling, it can feel overwhelming to help a child through this very difficult journey. So, we want to offer you a few ways for you can begin your own preparations for taking this journey with a child and what to potentially expect during this often long and painful process. 


Remember your own grief

It may be that you’ve suffered a loss at the same time as the child you’re seeking to help. Remember, you don’t have to put aside your grief or bury and halt your own coming to terms for the sake of maintaining a strong image. Often, talking through your own grief with a child can help them to understand their own feelings and feel that there is someone to share those emotions with. 

Take some time to remember the person, sharing the good memories, your mutual love, your appreciation for their life. This is the time to look through photo books or upload digital photos to the computer or TV. Letters, personal possessions, and stories all help bring out positive emotions. If it gets too much and you find yourself and/or the child getting too upset, it’s okay to take a break and live in the moment. Be honest about your feelings, but listen carefully to any attempt from a child to express their own emotions. 

This is a good opportunity to put together a self-care kit, where you can collect memories and mementos from the person who has passed away and keep them in a safe space. 


Stay connected and communicate

Stay in touch with people around you. You may feel that you want to isolate yourself in this moment of grief, either with or without the child who is also grieving, but it’s important to stay in contact with your friends, family, or community so they can help you through the grieving process. You can also express any problems you may be having with communicating with the child or children in question. 

This is also an opportunity to reach out to others who may be struggling, and to help each other on your journeys. Death often affects people in many different ways, both in their relationship with the deceased or through how individuals manage and deal with their grief. Coming together in these moments, perhaps with their children who are also affected or just as adults who can act as a support network, will provide a greater collective safety net and safe space. 


Keep moving, keep going 

Time outside can provide children with a change of scenery and fresh air. It’s a good time to put into perspective the fact that death is a part of life and although grief is fine and is a healthy process, life must continue — eventually, healing is possible in the long run. 

Staying stuck indoors, although tempting, can become claustrophobic and unhealthy, with too much of the same space becoming associated with grief and despair. Even if you can’t get out, putting on some music and dancing together, playing games or doing some walking can keep you both moving and can decrease anxiety and stress. 

Seek professional help 

Speaking to friends, family or your community can all help, but sometimes it can be better to talk to a qualified stranger. There are plenty of mental health charities, therapists, children’s charities with leaflets or materials which can help you in your process, either to guide you with your own grief so you are better equipped to help a child, or directly help you and the child together. It’s okay to admit you’re struggling and it’s better for everyone to seek help if it starts to get too much. 

It’s not your, or their, fault 

Remember, however complicated the relationship may be with the deceased, or with the child, it is never your or their fault. Be kind to yourself, remember that children will act out in different ways and process grief in different ways, and sometimes this will be in ways which can be distressing. Remain patient and remember to forgive them for any shortcomings in behaviour – and most of all, remember it is not your fault. The process can be very long and all you can do is try your best. 

Children will often blame themselves if a loved one has passed, and you should remind them that this is not the case. It’s very normal to feel this way, but it is not their fault. Let them express how they feel, listen carefully and use clear words. Remember to tell each other: “It’s not your fault.” 

Arrange a funeral to honour their legacy

If it is your responsibility, then arranging a funeral can be a good way to help a child, and yourself, go through the grieving process. It is often contentious and down to the discretion of the family and friends of the deceased as to what age is appropriate for a child to attend a funeral. This will really come down to your relationship with the child and how you feel the child will behave and/or accept the process. Not every child is ready to see a funeral, so you will have to discuss the event with them, the family and other organisers. 

If you do decide to bring a child to the funeral, remember to ask them how they are, listen to their emotions, encourage openness and be prepared to take them away and comfort them if they really cannot handle the situation. An uplifting funeral which honours the deceased can be a good way to help anyone, including children, in their grieving process. 

Remember, children are far more capable of understanding than many adults give them credit for, but loss can shape a young world in great and unforeseen ways. Their journey through grief is no less than anyone else’s just because they may be small, because such an event can be even greater and life changing than we may realise. How the ones they rely on and love come to their aid; dab their eyes, hold their hands, listen to their thoughts – can ultimately shape their future growth. It is in times of death that we must take extra effort to care for the living, and most all, the young and tender lives of children. 

If you are interested in knowing more about our funeral services, take a look at our FAQs and services breakdown. Or get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to support you and your family.