The Funeral - Be Led By Your Heart, Not By Time

In most cases, time is an issue. If your feeling is to bury your child tomorrow, pursue that instinct, but if you feel you need more time – even two weeks more – this is not unreasonable. You may want time just to be with your child, perhaps to arrange a naming ceremony and to be sure that your plans for your child’s funeral are what you would like them to be. With time, you can make choices and change your mind if necessary.

After a child has died you may feel shocked, angry, upset, numb and confused. It can be hard to take in what has happened, what it means to you and your family and what has to be organised. For many families it is the first experience of a death in the family. It can be frightening to think about what needs to be organised. The most important thing that we can say is take your time – don’t rush. Do what you feel is best for you and your family. The choices you make now for your child are important now and in the future.

“Thomas died on the Wednesday and we held his service on the Saturday. The three days between his death and the funeral felt like an awfully long time, but this timing was right for us.”

“Being on holidays, by the time friends had arrived to rescue us, the two of us, in a matter of hours, had decided how we wanted Thomas’s funeral. In retrospect, we are glad we had this time alone.”

“We arranged the funeral for the next day, but we didn’t take into account that Alyce’s body would not be available for 48 hours. We were disappointed but we decided to go ahead and hold the service without her being there.”

“I was horrified that anyone would do anything for Zoë apart from us. The funeral director delivered the coffin and later brought Zoë home to us. She lay in her cot at home for three days and our friends and her little friends came and put flowers in the cot.”

“I did worry a bit about keeping her preserved. People poured in and out of the house with flowers, and children came to look at her in her cot – they were so matter-of-fact about it. In the end, I felt overwhelmed and as if I was entertaining people all the time. An old friend of ours did the service in our garden and we held Zoë in our arms. Some people were a bit upset by this.”

This article was prepared using extracts from Your Child has Died: Some Answers To Your Questions1 and Choices in Arranging a Child’s Funeral.2 The full texts are available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.

Last reviewed: 20/7/24