NEXT STEPS

BURIAL ARRANGEMENTS
What needs to happen in the next few days as you make arrangements for your loved one

DEATH CERTIFICATE
This will be important for you to be able to take care of the deceased person’s affairs

PERSONAL BELONGINGS
Advice on when to remove and distribute the deceased person’s belongings

SUPPORT FOR THE DAYS AHEAD
The days ahead may become lonely once the service is over and all the family members have gone home

Loss Of A Child

There are no words to express the pain that comes with the unexpected passing of your child. Your heart is torn into pieces and the shock and sadness is beyond your ability to cope. The days ahead will be very difficult as you process this enormous change in your life. We know because we have been where you are. 

Planning a funeral for your child is very difficult and unfortunately, in most cases it has to be done in the immediate days following their passing. We can help by walking beside you during the process.

You will need to determine what area of town you want to have the funeral or “life celebration” and if you want to have a visitation for your child. We have provided a zip code locator for funeral homes so that you can see what’s in your area of town.  You can also choose to have a “life celebration” somewhere other than a funeral home. Some people have a gathering in their home, a park or a rentable space, so know that’s an option. Especially if cremation is the decision.

At First Hour Grief Response we will walk through this process with you. Let us make the call and set up the appointment. We will meet you there.

Most funeral homes will do their best to provide loving care for you once they know about your loss.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of decisions to be made. They know you are hurting and they will know how to guide you through what happens next.

If there are unusual circumstances involved and you must delay the funeral for a few weeks, the process will not feel as rushed and you can take more time to make decisions like choosing a casket and place of burial or cremation.

We have developed a comprehensive list of things for you to think about as you navigate planning the funeral. Please print this out and read it over. If you, or someone you trust, feels like talking through these items with you, that would be good so you are not blind-sided when you get to the funeral home. We know it’s tough to even get out of bed at this point and, unfortunately, you have to now figure out how to honor your loved one.

The obituary announcement will also need some thoughtful consideration. Most newspapers charge by the word count and if you wish to include a photo, there may be an additional charge. Here is our Obituary Outline Worksheet to help you think through what you want to include.

Receiving the death certificate is yet another shockwave that you really don’t want to experience. It is a paper confirmation that in fact your loved one has passed. And you need certified copies of it to be able to take care of your child’s affairs.

For example, if your child had a bank account you will need to present a certified death certificate to the financial institution in order to close the account. If you child was employed, you may be required to present a copy of the certificate to be able to get their remaining paycheck.

There are three ways you can obtain certified copies of a death certificate:

1.    The funeral home you’re working with can get certified copies on your behalf.
2.    You can order certified copies from a third-party company.
3.    You can order the copies yourself from the state in which the person died.

Kentucky Vital Records issues certified copies of Kentucky birth certificates, Kentucky death certificates and Kentucky marriage records for events which occurred in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. You may order copies of Kentucky vital records through VitalChek on an expedited basis.

You will need a certified copy of the death certificate that can be used to obtain death benefits, claim insurance proceeds, notify social security and other legal purposes.

Copies of death certificates may only be issued to immediate family members or to persons with a legal right to the certificate.

For now, it is best to leave things as they are if they have been living in your home. You do not want to make any decisions about articles of clothing and other personal belongings within the first year. Many parents choose to address this once the shock has worn off and they are thinking more clearly. Of course, siblings may want to have a few things right away, like a favorite t-shirt or sweatshirt to wear so they feel closer to their brother or sister. By all means allow them that comfort. You too may find comfort in touching and even “inhaling” your child’s clothing. Many people keep a box or hamper of the child’s worn clothing to comfort them. We each know our child’s scent and while it may seem strange to want to lay down with their recently used clothes, it is a way to find comfort. Placing the clothing in plastic storage bags is not a good idea as the plastic smell transfers to the clothes.

At some point you may want to gather up the favorite pieces of clothing and have a memory quilt made. This can be done months after their passing and there are several people who will gladly do this for you. The quilt will be a source of comfort for many years, especially on tough days when you just want to feel close to your child. Here are a few people we recommend:

Campus Quilt Company
(502) 968-2850

Quilted Joy
(502) 718-7148

The Cozy Quilter, Inc.
(502) 742-2699

You can make a t-shirt scarf necklace, and there are a variety of easy-to-make designs available on YouTube. Here is a link to an infinity scarf necklace, for example:

Some of your child’s friends may want a t-shirt or sweat pants to wear in their honor. It’s up to you if you want to part with these items. Just know that you may get this request and they are also seeking comfort with a desire to feel close to their friend.

In the coming months you may decide to sort out the clothes and donate to a charity or church group. And even find a home for their bedroom furniture. It’s best to have a plan for the room that makes you feel good about spending time in there. One person turned their son’s bedroom into a sleep and play space for her grandchildren and added photos of her son at various ages on the walls. Another person decided to take up piano lessons and make it a quiet space to learn and enjoy the new sounds of her music. Whatever you decide, make sure you are ready and are not rushing through this decision.

Other smaller belongings like trophies and mementos that you can’t part with can be stored in a bedroom closet. Get a few plastic totes and place these items inside so you can take your time and even “visit” with the memories associated with each item when you are feeling up to it.

There really are no rules here. You can close the bedroom door and leave it all “as is” for as long as you wish. One day you’ll feel like taking on something small and over time, you’ll finally decide what’s best for you and your family.

Your life has been shattered into so many pieces with the unexpected loss of your child. Once the initial shock has worn off, you will probably ask yourself what do I do next? Support for you in the days ahead is vital to your health and those around you. Self-care for the next several weeks, months and years is very important and it will look differently as you move through the various phases of grief.

Initially, you may want to…

    • Reach out to a trusted friend or family member and share your heart and thoughts. (If you don’t have a trusted companion, friend or family member, we are here for you.)
    • Join a grief group specific for people who have lost children.
    • Read books and magazines on the subject when you are ready. 
    • Speak to a counselor. Call First Hour Grief Response for recommendations or one-to one assistance.  
    • Listen to podcasts. 
    • Journal your thoughts.
    • Blog or look for bloggers sharing their experience.
    • Try prayer and meditation.
    • Create special ways to remember your loved one.

It is important to face the grief and try to work through it. We suggest balancing quiet moments “processing” your loss with being surrounded by loved ones. Isolation and ignoring the grief isn’t helpful. Take care of yourself. Eat well. Exercise. Stay hydrated. Rest.

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