Celebrating a Child's Life
The death of a child can be particularly painful for family and friends especially adults who feel that they should not have outlived such a young person. The death of a child is often equated to the loss of a future, or the loss of all of the possibilities for that child’s life. Though this loss may seem overwhelming, many families find ways to celebrate a child’s life and remember the special place that that child held in their lives and hearts.
Special Touches at the FuneralThough most funeral services or ceremonies follow a particular order and include certain components, there are many special touches that the family can include in order to celebrate the life of their child. Flower arrangements shaped like animals or favourite characters, pictures of the child at different stages of his or her life, sentimental items such as special blankets, toys or books placed in the coffin, favourite songs sung or performed during the service, and even special readings or poems composed or read by the child’s peers can all be integrated into a funeral service for a child. Working with a professional funeral director or a member of the clergy may help to decide what is appropriate and special for the child.
Memorial Services for a ChildSome bereaved families may be unable to personalise a funeral service for their child, but may decide to hold a memorial service at a later time, such as the child’s birthday or the anniversary of his or her death. The details of the memorial service – date, time, place, guests, order of service, etc. – will be up to the family to decide, though there may be certain restrictions placed on them due to the venue. Commemorating a child’s life in this way often gives family and friends a chance to truly celebrate all that was loved about the child, and all that the child loved, and may help the bereaved achieve a sense of closure or calm following the child’s death.
Remembering the ChildThough no child will be forgotten following his or her death, many families make a special effort to remember their child in a certain way. Some families choose to make a donation in the child’s name, such as to the child’s school or to a medical research fund, start a commemorative event, such as an annual fundraiser or fun run in the child’s name, make a special trip, such as to a location beloved by the child, or create their own family tradition, such as special activities on the child’s birthday or the anniversary of his or her death. Groups of which the child was a member, for example school classes, athletic teams and/or religious congregations, may also wish to be involved in these special remembrances or may invite the child’s family to help them with their own plans.
Celebrating a child’s life is often a bittersweet endeavour, and possibly one that family and friends may not be ready to carry out for a period of time after his or her death. There is no set method for celebrating a child’s life, and family and friends should simply let their own love for the child guide them in their preparations.