Implementing the Class
Introducing the Class to the At-Need Family
Introduce the STAR Class at the time arrangements are made. Give the “Letter to Parents” and a STAR brochure explaining the class and ask interested families to complete the registration form.
The Day of the Visitation or Service
On the day of the visitation or service, preview the room set up, casket type, appearance of the deceased, clothing, special jewelry or mementos present. Prepare the classroom with colorful place mats, markers, stickers, STAR message samples, etc. and provide a children’s packet at each place setting.
Greet family members as they arrive at the funeral home for the private family viewing time. Wear your STAR name tag. Invite the children to accompany you to the classroom while adults family members go into view and arrange the visitation room.
The Class Itself
- Begin with introductions.
- Read the Grandpa Amos story (details below ) and introduce the coloring book. Show photos of casket or urn, vault, hearse, etc.
- Introduce the Picture Frame Craft Activity. Show samples you have made. If you have them, give each child a name poem card and/or STAR wish sheet to take home.
- Introduce the STAR message (details below).
- Allow time for questions and discussion. Go over the sequence of expected events, ie: visitation hours, place and time of funeral, burial, family gathering or meal. Give each child a copy of the memorial folder or obituary if available.
- Ask children to help tidy up. Be sure each child writes their name on their envelope.
Join the Visitation
Escort children to the visitation room and gather at the casket where they will be joined by their parents and other relatives. The adults will 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.
Invite the children to return to the casket as often as they wish. Thank each child for coming and offer your condolences. Relay any pertinent information to parents if you have a concern about a particular child. If you have a children’s room you may wish to return there with the children as a resource and support person.
The Grandpa Amos Coloring Book
The Grandpa Amos coloring book tells the story of a little girl’s experiences after the death of her beloved Grandpa Amos. It explains a traditional funeral service with a visitation (yellow book), a cremation and memorial service (blue book) or a combination of the two (green book), to familiarize them with the funeral language and the funeral process.
The little girl in the story sees some strange and unexpected behaviors by some of the people at the visitation/wake for her grandfather: people are laughing! Her mother explains that they were remembering something funny her grandpa did. The mixed emotions and atypical behaviors children see at the visitation and funeral can be confusing. To children, people are either happy or sad, but not both at the same time.
Use the information in the coloring books to explain the special arrangements that have been made for the loved one’s funeral. If the funeral has already taken place, this information may help answer questions about what they experienced at the time of the death and the funeral.
The Picture Frame Craft Activity
The Picture Frame Craft activity provides a creative outlet for children to make a special picture frame for a photo of their loved one who has died. If using colored markers be sure the ink is dry before touching as the images may smear. Very young children may use color crayons on the dull, matte side. Rubber stamps in assorted STAR shapes or paper punches are a fun way to enhance the art project. Scissors with pinked edges can add a special look.
This is a good time for further discussion about the events of the funeral and their memories of their loved one who has died. Give your child an opportunity to tell about their design and why they chose it. Remember: Silence is okay too!
Then, at home, parents can help put a photo into the picture frame and choose a special place to display it.
The STAR Message
Often times children come to the funeral home with a letter they have written or a picture they have colored for the deceased. The STAR message can augment that gift. For others it is an opportunity to express final thoughts and words to the deceased that otherwise may not be said.
Take out the yellow paper STAR and invite the children to write a special message to the deceased on their STAR. This can be a poem, a prayer or a personal note. Assist very small children with printing their message. Then they may decorate it with stickers and personalize it with their name.
Then, when the children go to view, they may place their STAR messages in the casket or tuck it into a bouquet of flowers given in their honor. Most children are eager to read their messages out loud or display them for all to see. Some children, especially the older ones, may want to keep their messages private. They can tuck their STAR message into the pocket of the deceased’s jacket or place it beneath the pillow. If there is an urn or other receptacle present, the STAR can be placed on it or beside it.
If the urn will be interred, the STAR can be buried with it. If the body is present at the visitation, the STAR can be put in the casket and later cremated with the body.
Your Funeral Home can provide this solution!
Set your Funeral Home apart from your competition by providing this service to your at-need families. 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.
Providing this specialty to your Funeral Home’s client families is a wonderful way to show your community that you care.