Going to a funeral social story
When a person dies, the family may hold a funeral service. It can be a little different for each family. Some families hold a prayer service at the funeral home. Then the body is taken to a cemetery. Other families may have a church service.
At the funeral home, there is a last viewing of the body. The casket is then closed and put in a hearse. This is a special vehicle used to transport the casket.
Everyone gets in their vehicles and drives behind the hearse. The drivers get to put their hazard lights on and drive through red lights as if they were one long vehicle—kind of like a train.
If it is church service, the hearse drives to the church. The casket is carried into the church. A special mass or church service is held in honor of the person who died.
I might see, hear and smell new things. The stained glass is interesting. The church organ plays songs and sometimes people sing. Church bells may ring. Sometimes incense can be used. If these things bother me, I can tell my parent by whispering what I want to say.
The casket is then carried back in the hearse. Everyone follows the hearse to the cemetery. The casket is carried to the grave at the cemetery. A hole has already been dug. The casket will sit above this hole.
Some final words are said about the person who died. Sometimes the people attending are asked to place dirt, flower petals or flowers on the casket before it is lowered into the ground. Sometimes everyone stays to watch the casket be lowered into the ground. I need to remember that this is only the body that's in the casket. The person I love is no longer in this body.
If a person was in the military, someone might play a song called “Taps” on a trumpet and receive a gun salute. This can be loud. The casket might have a flag on it that is removed and given to a family member.
When the ceremony at the grave is over, often people are invited to attend a lunch. Relatives and families get together one last time to talk and celebrate the life of the person who died.
The funeral can take a long time and I might get bored. It's important to be patient and respectful. I can be helpful by sitting quietly and talking in a whisper at the funeral home and church.
More resources on death for special needs families
Why people die - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_why_people_die.html
Why people die young - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_why_people_die_young.html
What does it mean to be dead? - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_what_does_it_mean_to_be_dead.html
Addressing death when you have an elderly relative - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_addressing_death.html
Telling your child a family member died - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_telling_child_family_member_died.html
Handling anxiety, sensory and behavior issues at a wake or funeral - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_handling_issues_wake_funeral.html
Kid friendly memorials to remember your family member - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_kid_friendly_memorials.html
Going to a wake social story - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_going_to_a_wake.html
How to behave at a wake or funeral social story - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_how_to_behave_wake_funeral.html
This video shows a navy gun salute and the playing of taps at a funeral - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0IONAupqP0&feature=related
This is the best funeral ceremony video I've found honoring a young marine. Encompasses all aspects of a military funeral - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYaTpkiJ1jY&feature=related
Example and explanation of the flag folding ceremony - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWx5PlWn6FM
Full playing of Taps - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi8l-pRAX_A&feature=related
About the writer
Dawn Villarreal runs One Place for Special Needs, a national disability resource that lets you find local and online resources, events and even other families in your neighborhood plus over 4,000 online resources! Stay awhile and check out the site. She is also moderator of Autism Community Connection, a Yahoo group for families in Illinois. Reprint permission granted by including: Reprinted with permission from One Place for Special Needs http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com