Often clergy are involved with the planning of a funeral or memorial service.

This is a painful period of confusion and shock for the family when necessary decisions must be made. It is important to encourage family members to be together, to be included in the planning of the service, if that is their wish and to support each other as a unit. Please ensure that the siblings are included and not overlooked during this period.

Many families have reported that, while their clergy were helpful at the time of the funeral service, they could have used more support afterwards. Depending on your relationship with the family as a pastor and counsellor, try to remain close to the family or see that a network of contact is established through others on your behalf. The family may be unable to reach out on their own. There may be individuals in your congregation who would be both willing and able to assist you.

All family members are different, unique and so their reactions to God after the death of a child will most likely be different also. There may be anger directed at a “God of retribution” or a “why have you forsaken me, God?” attitude. Faith may be shaken. A pastor can support the bereaved individual at this time. It can become a time of examining faith in oneself and in God. How you handle this question of faith can be very important to the future faith of the individual that you are counselling. Take time to be a friend and counsel gently.