Since the 1950s, when our own family experienced first hand the trauma and sadness of the loss of a child, it has been our policy not to charge for our professional services when the funeral is for a child.
We are family; we are parents and siblings, and having been through a similar experience we feel this is something we can all accept is outside the natural order of life. Giving our time and professional knowledge seems a small way in which we can try to help when it is needed most.
Every loss is different and presents different needs for those left behind. Each of the charities below offer support to families experiencing particular types of loss.
- Teddy's Wish - support for grieving families
- Cruse Bereavement Care – generic bereavement support
- The Compassionate Friends - generic bereavement support
- Sands - stillborn and neonatal death
- The Lullaby Trust - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- Miscarriage Association - miscarriage
- Winston's Wish - child bereavement
Local children's hospices will also offer support to grieving parents and siblings.
Grieving the death of a child
Allowing children to say goodbye in ways that feel right to them is important for the grieving process. Don't assume that what holds true for one child will be the same for another. Some children may want to see pictures and memorabilia of the child who died while others may not. Some may want to actively participate in the funeral service while others may not even want to attend.
Below are a few ideas to help children say goodbye to a loved one:
- Help pick out something for the funeral service such as the coffin or flowers
- Plant a tree or flower in memory of the person who has died
- Create a memory box with special mementoes and photos of the deceased person
The death of a child, no matter their age, can be devastating. Society will play a big role in your support and grief. Some will say very well intended but insensitive things, while others may avoid you because of their discomfort. As a result of our culture's discomfort with grief, especially the death of children, the loss of a child may be best supported with other people who have lost children and who understand what you are experiencing. Consider seeking out those who understand.
- Find other grieving parents - there is nothing like talking to people who understand. Their story and circumstances may be very different from yours, but they 'get it' in ways unique from others.
- Anticipate what people will say - because people don't know what to say they tend to rely on clichés. You may find some of these hurtful. It is okay to avoid situations where these things might be said, and it is okay to practice your response for when they are said.
- Anticipate what you'll say - "How many kids do you have?" is a common question that many bereaved parents struggle with. Do you include the child who died? Will your response scare the person who asked? How you answer the question is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong response and your answer might be different depending on who asks and when they ask. Anticipating what you'll say may make these encounters more manageable.
- Exercise - grief is not just an emotion. It comes with fatigue and other ailments. Exercise is a healthy coping strategy if you're able to do so.
- Find ways to honour - many parents say (and research confirms), that if you can find ways to honour your child's life and do good in his/her memory it helps manage the grief and isolation. Do this in your own time.