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Patient and family resources
Patient and family resources

Preparing for Your Child's Funeral

In crisis, many families have not had opportunity to think about how to plan a funeral. There are resources available to families as well as information, to help you in this process. 

Please speak to your social worker, nurse or one of the Grief Support Coordinators to access information to help you.  If funding for your child’s funeral is a challenge, please speak to your social worker prior to contacting a local funeral home.  

If you are looking for information on local funeral homes please ask your social worker, nurse or one of the Grief Support Coordinators to provide you with some local information.  There is access to a funeral home database available within the hospital Monday-Friday. If this isn't convenient or if you didn't get access to it, you can find out about local funeral homes through the following link- it includes the ability to find funeral homes near where you live or where a local cemetery you are interested in is positioned. As well, we have created a map of the province's funeral homes so you can look local to you.  Some of the important questions are included if you click on the specific funeral home you are interested in connecting with, like their phone number and website.  

Some good information to know is:

  • Unless time constraints are enforced through religious or family concerns, you can take the time you need to plan for your child’s funeral.  If your child's body is at SickKids and you anticipate needing more than 1-2 weeks, please contact the Grief Support Coordinators at grief.support@sickkids.ca so that we are aware of any timeline changes.
  • Funerals can be expensive if you are not aware of how much you can afford to spend. Like any business, a funeral home will provide the basics, and the fancy options, and we want you to be aware of how costly it can be.  
    • If you are a parent who is currently on Ontario Works, or who has limited income (T4), you may be able to access basic funeral support through government funds.  However, you cannot make any plans until you have found out if you are able to access these funds.  Funds are not available after the funeral and are only for limited BASIC services as described by the Ontario Works funeral program.  If you are considering applying, please let your Funeral Director know and DO NOT sign anything until you have found out if you are approved.  You will need to look for Ontario Works in the blue pages of your local yellow pages or search online and call the local office. The City of Toronto has information in the link (click here). You can also speak to your Social Worker about the possibility of accessing funding through The Unforgettables Fund if you live in the Toronto area or are a parent of a patient at SickKids, your social worker can assist you with considering an application.
    • When making arrangements with a cemetery (please note you will be often working with the funeral home and cemetery separately), you may be asked to consider a family plot. Please be aware that the costs associated can be very high, and may require significant investment.  
    • If you have a “dependent death benefit” as part of your benefits plan through your workplace, you may be entitled to receive funds to assist you with the costs associated with your child’s funeral. Please find out from your employer what information you will need to provide. If there are any documents that require physician signatures, please speak to your social worker or Grief Support Coordinator who can assist in obtaining the appropriate documentation. This may take a few weeks, and could require mailing the documents if the provider requires an original signature.
  • Earth Burial- If you have a loved one who has been earth buried, it might be possible to place an infant’s casket or the cremated remains of an older child’s body with the loved one who is buried. Every cemetery has different rules, so please check before making plans. You will need permission from whoever is the grave’s owner to allow this to happen, and the costs associated will include opening and closing the grave as well as any other service costs but you will not have to pay for the grave itself.
  • Green burial opportunities- some families want to have opportunities to reduce the impact on the environment with chemically reduced burial options.  
    • CINDEA- Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives- this website has some good links for books and resources- their intention is to move away from the traditional funeral home based funerals, to more natural options, so be aware of this intention but they may be a useful resource
  • Cremation is a loving option that many parents are not aware of.  If you are able to consider it, the cost is much less than a traditional burial (grave plot, opening and closing fees) but there would be more thought needed and potential cost to ensure that you had a place to visit your loved one’s cremains (scattering garden/niche/a private place in your home are possibilities). This can also be helpful for families who are not planning on staying in a certain area, as it can be very difficult to move and leave your loved one’s grave behind.
      • Some families choose to do a couple of other things with their child's ashes- these examples are by no means extensive and new options occur all the time. Please be aware that all have costs associated and you need to be thoughtful about planning. 
      • Some families have identified that a quality tattoo artist can help them if they choose to have a tattoo made in their child's memory- a tiny amount of the cremains can be safely added to the ink (it has been sterilized by burning at a very high temperature for a long time) keeping the connection close to your child forever.
      • The idea of  taking a small amount of cremated ash and creating a beautiful memorial orb/heart may feel right to some families. http://artfulashes.com  Please contact the website for details and more information.


  • If you have any other questions related to funeral planning, please feel free to contact the Grief Support Coordinators at 416-813-6905 or grief.support@sickkids.ca