• Information for Parents After a Death

    “My Child Has Died ... What Do I Do?”

    The Department of Pastoral Care at Cincinnati Children’s extends our sympathy as you grieve the death of your child. We recognize that this is a difficult time for you and your family. Few parents are truly prepared for the death of their child, and the prospect of making arrangements for your child’s funeral may add to the pain. One way that we can help is to provide you with basic information about the arrangements you will need to make for your child.

  • The funeral home of your choice will be contacted when the autopsy is complete, usually within 24-48 hours after the death. It will take approximately 90 days for the results to be established, reviewed, typed and available.

    You will not automatically receive a copy of the autopsy. You can request a copy by calling medical records at 513-636-0664. It is suggested that you have your doctor call and request a copy.

    It may be helpful to have your physician review the report first and then go over it with you to explain the findings, the medical terminology or to answer any questions you have.

    Your child’s body will be released from the coroner to the funeral home of your choice when the autopsy is complete. You will need to call the coroner’s office directly with the funeral home information.

    If you need to contact the coroner, he can be reached at 513-946-8700. The coroner’s office is not part of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

    You will not be able to view your child’s body at the coroner’s office but you may arrange a private viewing at the funeral home handling the service.

    If you need a copy of the death certificate and the funeral home that served you is not able to assist, you will need to call the Bureau of Vital Statistics at 513-352-3813. There is a charge for each copy requested.

    One of the first decisions you will need to make is which funeral home to use. If you do not know a funeral director, ask family members, neighbors or someone in your faith community. They can help you identify someone they are familiar with or have used in the past. It’s also important to know that some funeral homes may provide services for infants at cost. Discuss your financial concerns with the funeral director to see what type of assistance is available.

    If you are from out of state, you will want to identify a funeral home from your home area. It will work with a Cincinnati-based funeral home to bring your child’s body back to your home town.

    If you are a member of a religious community (church, synagogue, mosque), you may wish to contact the clergy person from your congregation. This person can assist you in making arrangements for the service.

    A funeral, memorial or committal service can take place at a funeral home, church, congregation or at the graveside. A funeral director will work with you to make these arrangements.

    There are two basic options available for you to consider: burial and cremation.

    If you choose to have your child’s body buried, you will need to think about several things as you select a cemetery:

    • Is it near your home so you can visit?
    • Does it meet your religious or cultural requirements?
    • Is maintenance included in the cost?
    • Is there additional space for other family members?
    • What are the restrictions on type of monument, plants, flowers or decorations you can put on the grave?

    A funeral director will be able to help answer your questions and provide the detailed information you need to make your decisions.

    Some parents prefer the option of cremation. It’s usually less costly than burial and you have the option of burying, keeping or scattering your child’s ashes. If you choose cremation, you may still have calling hours, viewing and a memorial service. Cremation may be the more practical choice if you plan to move out of the area at some time.

    Once a decision is made regarding a funeral home or cremation, call the Cincinnati Children’s operator at 513-636-4200, or 1-800-344-2462, and ask to speak with the chaplain on call. The following information will be needed:

    1. Funeral home or crematory name
    2. Address with ZIP code
    3. Telephone number with area code

    We must hear from you directly regarding your choice of a funeral home or crematory. After we have received confirmation from you, the chaplain will contact the agency regarding the release of your child’s body from Cincinnati Children’s. Please note that the choice and completion of an autopsy and organ and tissue donation may affect the timing of the release of your child’s body.

    Sometimes family members wish to transport their child’s body to the funeral home or crematory themselves, or even take the body home for a brief time. If this is something you would like to do, special arrangements will need to be made. The chaplain can assist you.

    The funeral home will make arrangements to transport your child’s body unless instructed otherwise.

  • Contact Us

    Speak with a Chaplain

    If you would like to talk with a chaplain from Cincinnati Children’s, call 513-636-4200 or 1-800-344-2462 and ask the operator to page the on-call chaplain.

    Speak with a Bereavement Specialist

    If you would like to talk with a bereavement specialist at Cincinnati Children's, call 513-636-0069.

    Contact Us