The Funeral Service Foundation, in partnership with the Collaborative of National Pediatric Palliative Care Coalitions, recently created a resource entitled When a Child Dies: Planning Acts of Love & Legacy for bereaved families. The booklet offers guidance and inspiration to help these families who experience the death of their child say goodbye in a way that is meaningful and important to their path forward.

A copy of the resource is polybagged with the June issue of The Director Magazine. “The Foundation planned to share this piece with the funeral service, and healthcare and bereavement communities in the coming weeks,” said Allan Cole, 2021-22 Foundation Chair. “However, in the wake of the devastating events in Uvalde, Texas, which took the lives of 19 children and two adults, we knew that now was the time to share this important resource, which will help funeral service professionals strengthen the bonds they share with families and communities when the unimaginable happens.”

2022 FSF When a Child Dies CoverArtworkResearch for the booklet began in 2018 with a multi-year grant to the Collaborative of National Pediatric Palliative Care Coalitions. “We recognized a need in the grief space to help families plan a meaningful and healing goodbye when a child dies, which led us to apply for funding from the Funeral Service Foundation,” said Kristin James and Betsy Hawley, executive directors of the Greater Illinois Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition and the Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition, respectively. “Our work with the Funeral Service Foundation over the last five years has culminated in a resource that will help families understand that they are not alone as they begin to face a world in which their child is no longer living.”

Dozens of bereaved parents, along with healthcare and bereavement professionals, offered their expertise in creating this piece, which is available at FuneralServiceFoundation.org at no charge to all who those who walk alongside grieving families.

The resource offers guidance for families, including why funerals and memorialization are important steps in moving forward; entrusting their child’s body to the care of a funeral director; what to expect when meeting with a funeral director; determining a final resting place; connecting with family and community; talking to children about death and dying; and preparing families for funeral attendance. The guide also offers memorialization ideas from bereaved parents, and those who walk alongside grieving families, and gives suggestions for building acts of legacy and love in the days, weeks, months, and years after a child’s funeral.

“There is no magic wand to take away a parent’s heartache when a child dies,” said Hawley and James. “We are hopeful that this resource will bring some comfort to families and let them know that they are not alone.”

The resource is the latest community care resource offered by the Funeral Service Foundation. The resource joins the award-winning Youth & Funerals: Helping Families Understand the Important Role of Funerals and Memorialization in the Lives of Youth; Grieving Alone & Together: Responding to the Loss of Your Loved One During the Covid-19 Pandemic; and Caring for Families & Caring for Yourself: A Self-Care Handbook for Funeral Service Professionals.

All resources are available through the Foundation’s user-friendly resource store, which is sponsored by Batesville. Those interested simply pay shipping. An e-book version that funeral homes and organizations can embed on websites and share on social media platforms is also available.