Children's Hospital Colorado

How to Help Friends or Family After the Loss of a Child

We at Children’s Hospital Colorado have assembled this guide to help you support your friend or family member following the loss of his or her child. With any death, the bereaved depend on support from close friends and family members to help make decisions and arrangements, and to take care of daily activities.

Below, we list parents’/guardians’ duties in the hours and days following the loss – this is where you can help. Although it is up to the parents/guardians on how they complete these tasks, encourage them to let you help; some people may not feel comfortable asking for help.

Tasks that friends and family can help with following the loss

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Parents’/guardians’ first day tasks:

  • Choose a funeral home or hospital placement.
  • Inform a staff person of the funeral home or option chosen.
  • Surround yourself with loving people who let you be yourself.
  • Take the time you need to be with your loved one.

Parents’/guardians’ first week tasks:

  • Make arrangements for the service, gathering, final resting place and other matters.
  • Make a list of immediate family, close friends, and employer or business colleagues and notify them.
  • Arrange for family members or close friends to answer the door, phone or emails, and to keep careful records of calls, visits, and items delivered/received.
  • Arrange appropriate care of the child’s pet, if there are any.
  • Make sure to plan meals for the next few days.
  • Consider special needs of the household, like cleaning and paying bills.
  • Write the obituary.
  • If you do not want flowers, decide on the appropriate memorial to which gifts may be made, such as a school or charity.
  • Arrange hospitality for visiting relatives and friends.
  • Select pallbearers and notify them (if you are having a funeral with a casket).
  • If having a service, prepare content for printed programs for services, if you would like a program.
  • If there are flowers, plan for their placement after the service(s).
  • Send thank you cards.

Download/print our bereavement guide for friends and family (.pdf).


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