These questions are heard by funeral directors every day.
So often, children are left out of the visitation and funeral process, because parents and grandparents, struggling with their own grief and sadness, simply don’t know what to say to their children and grandchildren.
Your Funeral Home can provide a solution
Set your Funeral Home apart from your competition by providing this invaluable service to your families at need. All you need to get started is The STAR Kit, which contains everything necessary to implement this innovative and valuable program. The Instructor’s Manual takes you step by step through the class with a script, pictures, samples and stories.
Help at a Difficult Time
The days surrounding a death can be a confusing and disorienting time for young children. Altered daily routines and unfamiliar sights and sounds can be difficult for them to understand and cope with. Children notice even the most subtle changes in their routines and surroundings.
The STAR Class contains words and images that are not usually a part of everyday conversation for children or adults. Providing children with the opportunity to hear the words of the funeral process, to express feelings and concerns in a creative art activity, and to write a STAR message to their loved one who has died can give them a sense of power over this new experience and help allay fears about what the funeral is all about.
The Class Itself
The class is introduced at the time arrangements are made and is held during the private family viewing time before the visitation or wake. The STAR class takes about 30 minutes. This allows adult family members an opportunity to view for the first time without children present and to make final preparations of the visitation room. At the same time it prepares the children for what they may see, hear, and experience when they approach the casket for the first time.
The children are then escorted to the visitation room and gather at the casket where they are joined by their parents and other relatives. The adults watch in awe as each child “chooses” to approach the casket, place his or her STAR message in with the deceased, and touch the hand of their loved one who died. Children then have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments about what they are experiencing. I invite the children to return to the casket as often as they wish. It is my hope that children everywhere will have the opportunity to attend a STAR class before the services of a loved one and that they will learn that a funeral is a Special Time to Always Remember.
Experience and Flexibility
Karen Nilsen, creator and author of the program, has taught The STAR Class at Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel in Richfield, Minnesota, since 1997. It has been offered to families with young children, at need, for traditional funerals as well as memorial services. Children have ranged in age from two to nineteen years and have attended classes for siblings, friends, parents, grandparents, and classmates. The STAR Class has the flexibility to be of value to children in a wide range of circumstances.