Preparing Young People for a Memorial Service

Kansas City Hospiceby Lisa Templeton-Farmer, Director of Grief Services, Kansas City Hospice

Deciding whether young people will attend a memorial service or funeral depends on age, the family and the young person’s desires.

Be Prepared

  • Give detailed explanations of what happens before and during a service
  • Be sensitive to reactions in discussing the funeral – there may be fear, even panic in anticipating the event
  • Some families allow youth to decide whether to attend (if they don’t attend, plan carefully who’ll be with them and bring them back to the family circle afterwards)
  • Talk about what will happen at the funeral, what the funeral home will look like and how people will behave
  • Ask if there are any questions and answer those questions calmly and accurately
  • Before the funeral or visitation, arrange for an adult — someone who is not emotionally involved with the death — to be available to take charge of children if they decide not to attend at the last minute.
  • Young people may have more questions or need to take a break – some children cannot last through an entire visitation or funeral

Solace HousePlanning

There are many ways to include the whole family in planning the funeral and making it meaningful.

Memory Table – gather items the person loved or with sentimental value. Bring these to the funeral home to place on a memory table.

Collage – use photos, magazine pictures or other items to represent their life.

Letter, Memories in the Casket – place notes, letters and sentimental items in the casket. If children place a toy, explain it cannot be returned.

Sensory Memories – what do you see, hear, smell or taste when you think of them? Example: Uncle Joe always had cinnamon candy, so let children pass out his favorite candy.

Music – be creative and pick what is meaningful to your family. Let young people help you decide. Some may wish to sing or play music.
Written Memories – have children draw a special border design and have it photocopied. Then let them hand it out at the funeral for people to write messages to the deceased to be given to family or placed in the casket.

List of Favorite Things – ask young people to list favorite things about the person who died or write a poem, letter, note or memory to read at the service or have an adult read.

Memorial Activities at Graveside

Decorating – flowers, objects, notes and messages

Remembering – reading, stories or a family circle

Later Visits – place stones, change decorations

Special Day Visits – birthdays, anniversaries, anniversary of death

Kansas City Hospice

Letting Go Activities

Balloons — release balloons, maybe with messages

Bubbles — use to blow away difficult feelings and symbolize messages of love

Fire — light and blow out candles, burn messages to let go of difficult feelings

Incense — scent may symbolize messages or feeling

About Us


The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. ur vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

Solace House
 Center for Grief & Healing is designed to be a nurturing place to guide children and adults through the difficult time following a death. It is your space to share, listen, learn and heal.

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