My sister looked at me in the hospital and asked, “Will you be the funeral coordinator?” I told her I was already on it. Beck died a few hours later. I couldn’t grieve then, I went immediately into planning mode. I knew I couldn’t take away my sister’s pain, but I could plan a perfect funeral for her and Beck. Since it was a child’s funeral and there would be lots of kids around, I wanted to make sure the funeral was kid friendly. The collective family brain went to work.
May you never have to use any of these child’s funeral ideas:
I like to use a color scheme when I plan events because it unifies the event and facilitates decision making. My sister and I chose the color white because we both love white flowers, especially tulips. Plus white symbolized Beck’s innocence and purity. His casket was adorned with a beautiful spread of white tulips, hydrangeas, baby roses and other white flowers. If he had been older, we probably would have gone with his favorite color.
Since Beck was so little we didn’t use formal titles on the printed program- like Mr. or Mrs. or Brother or Sister. We used the family names as he knew us. For example, Grandma Kerry said a prayer, Mom gave a talk and Uncle Kyle was a pall bearer. Children participated in the program as well. Beck’s older brother and sister spoke and the cousins sang a children’s song. It was very sweet.
I asked two of my sister’s best friends to head up a kids’ room. This was a place at the viewing where kids could go and write a note to Beck while their parents stood in the waiting line. They set up a small table and had containers of crayons and markers to use and a basket of pre-cut cards. Her friends stayed in the room and monitored the kids. We displayed the pictures and notes during the viewing and then at the end we tucked them all into a cute container and handed them to my sister. We originally were going to put them in the casket, but the bucket wouldn’t fit and my sister wanted to keep them. (Thanks Char and Mitzi!)
I suggested that Beck’s brother and sister each pick a couple of things that they wanted to be in Beck’s casket with him. They picked a Binky, pictures, and a few random toys. You never know what is important to children until you ask them.
We gave each child a white balloon at the grave site. (My friend brought the balloons to us at a designated time so we didn’t have to worry about it. That helped a ton. Thanks, Shelley! ) My niece read a poem she wrote and then we let the balloons go into the sky. We just wanted to send love up to Beck. They floated right up to heaven. I loved the joy on the kids’ faces.
You could adapt these ideas for most funerals- a grandparent, teacher, mom or dad.
Some people think I make things complicated; I like to think I make them special. And it was as perfect a funeral as a funeral can be.