Funeral Service for a Baby or Young Child

The death of a young child is so hard for all to bear.  In this funeral service the theme is of a life cut off before is has really started, as would be seen in a beautiful flower in bud which never opens; it had the potential to become a beautiful flower, but never had the chance to open up and be seen in all its glory.  That doesn’t take away the beauty of the bud, which has shape and colour and smell, but it will never be seen as a flower fully open.  It is complete in itself. It is a flower, admired as a bud, as something perfect. But not the whole of the flower’s story or journey has happened.  So it is with a young child’s death.  The child is there, complete in itself at that age. But without death there would be much more to come.  The sense of not knowing what the child’s story or journey would have been is one of the greatest losses when a child dies. 

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE LITURGY

The Gathering

Everyone is given a flower in bud when they arrive. At a chosen time in the service, while gentle music plays, the buds can be placed on the coffin or altar.
OR
Everyone is given a flower in bud when they arrive, which they can place on the grave.
OR
Sometime during the service a basket of flowers in bud is passed around and everyone takes one to keep. 

Opening Responses        

A precious child has been born:
a precious child has died.                                               

The hope of a new life was there:
The hope of a new life is gone.

God, reach out and hold us all in our pain and sadness.
Hold us, Lord, in our sadness.

Let us thank God for N’s life.
Thank you, Lord.                                               

Bible Readings                  

Isaiah 49.14-16 God will never forget you
Matthew 18.1-5 Becoming like children
Mark 10.13-16 Jesus took children in his arms and blessed them

Other Readings – see Readings and Reflections for Funerals                

Prayers                                                         

Arms have nothing to hold,
and memories of smells and sounds are fading.
O Lord, be with all who despair and grieve.                                               

The cot is empty
and the lullaby plays to a vacant space.
O Lord, be with all who despair and grieve. 

The ache inside is overwhelming
and the truth of what has happened cannot be faced.
O Lord, be with all who despair and grieve. 

There seem no answers to ‘why’?
Just a void of silence.
O Lord, be with all who despair and grieve. 
Wrap them in your loving embrace.
Send people to walk this hard road with them
and in time bring them to a place of peace
Amen.

People say

Each section of this prayer can be said by a different voice representing the person speaking. 

A voice to represent a mother

People say:
“Never mind”, you can always have another child.
But I do mind, I mind very much. I wanted and loved this child. And yes, I may have another, but it will never replace NHe/she will always be part of our family, and be included in our number.
Father God, Mother God, we pray for the right words when we want to bring comfort and support, and the sensitivity to say nothing when just being there is enough.

A voice representing a father

People say:
“How is your wife/partner? How is she doing?”
When will people realise that it is my baby that has died as well as my wife’s/partner’s.  That I hurt as well, and grieve as well, and need loving as well?
Father God, Mother God, we pray for the right words when we want to bring comfort and support, and the sensitivity to say nothing when just being there is enough.
                                                                                         

A voice representing siblings

People say:
“Why don’t you go out and play, whilst the adults have a talk?”
Don’t push me out. I need to talk as well. N was my brother/sister, and I feel sad and lost as well.
Father God, Mother God, we pray for the right words when we want to bring comfort and support, and the sensitivity to say nothing when just being there is enough. 

Several voices together                 

People say:
Nothing... but cross the road and walk the other way, because they don’t know what to say.
Father God, Mother God, we pray for the right words when we want to bring comfort and support, and the sensitivity to say nothing when just being there is enough. 

Several voices together     

Finding the right words at the right time is so hard when someone is hurting so much.
Father God, Mother God, we pray for the right words when we want to bring comfort and support, and the sensitivity to say nothing when just being there is enough. Amen.                                   

Thanksgiving for the life of the departed
Lord, N was born and died so quickly, like a flower that buds but never opens.
We thank you for N’s life.
We thank you for the brief time he/she was with us.
We thank you for the joy he/she brought.
May he/she rest in peace.
Lord, bring us comfort in dark times
and your joy in the morning.                                                

Prayer for those who mourn                                                        
Lord, we hold (parents names) to you.
Bring comfort to them in these dark times.
We pray that they will know your loving arms around them and that they will know support and love through their family and friends.
We pray that in the dark time of grief they will be able to support each other.
Lord, bring us comfort in dark times
and your joy in the morning.                       

Prayers of penitence
Lord, we do not know or understand why such a young child should die when their life has only just begun.  Forgive us our times of anger and despair.
Forgive us our sense of uncertainty and bewilderment.
Lord, bring us comfort in dark times
and your joy in the morning.                   

Prayer for readiness to live in the light of eternity
Lord, as we live our lives without N, help us to be people of faith and hope - having faith to believe that all shall be well, hope in the joy of your resurrection and ours, and belief that we shall all meet again one day.
Lord, bring us comfort in dark times
and your joy in the morning.                   

Hymns and Songs – see Hymns and Songs for Funerals                                             

Recorded Music – see Recorded Music for Funerals        

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