The death of a person we love and know causes much sadness and emotional pain. The funeral service marks the close of a human life on earth. It is the opportunity for friends and family to express their grief, to give thanks for the life which has now completed its journey in this world and to commend the person into God’s keeping. The funeral service will reflect the personality of the one who has died.
Feelings of grief, gratitude, joy and sadness often intermingle. Sometimes, a sense of tragedy is uppermost, especially when it is a young person who has died. When it is the end of a long and fruitful life, the feelings of thanksgiving can be stronger.
How can we make a funeral memorable?
The funeral service of the Church of England can be very short and quiet with only a few members of the family present or an occasion of great solemnity with music, hymns and a packed church. It can, if required and appropriate, be set into the context of a service of Holy Communion.
The Churches in the Fosse Team look to work with you to make the service as meaningful as we can. We talk with you about the service and what you would like. We blend the format chosen with hymns, favourite prayers and readings to make the occasion a special memory. You are free to have CDs of your loved one’s favourite music if you wish. Family members can give a tribute to the person who has died or read a poem or other reading. Of course the address is a key part of the service and, whether or not you or a relative or friend is involved, whether we have known the person who has died or not, we will take the greatest care to achieve the right tone, and leave a lasting impression in the minds of those attending.
Whatever the pattern of service, our desire in our words and actions is to honour the person who has died, reflect their life in a meaningful way and tell of our loving God and the preciousness to God of every human being.
How can we cope with the reality of what has happened?
Funeral services always raise profound questions about the meaning of life and death. Jesus himself believed in a life-giving God: ‘the God of the living, not of the dead.’ Christians believe that Christ’s resurrection is the triumph of good over evil and of life over death and has made eternal life available to us.
In the numbing days after a loved one has died, you may wish to question what has happened and why. The priests and ministers of the Fosse Team can help with a sympathetic ear, time without an agenda and our prayers for your well-being in times of trouble. If you would like to talk to someone from one of the churches about coping with grief, speak directly to the person responsible for the church where you live.
What happens at the funeral service?
The service will generally consist of:
- a number of reassuring sentences from the scriptures read out loud.
- readings telling of God’s care and the hope of eternal life.
- an address remembering the life and work of the person who has died and the Christian beliefs about life beyond death.
- prayers recalling the promise of the resurrection, entrusting the person who has died to the love and mercy of God and asking for comfort and strength for the mourners left behind.
- if the family wish it, a service of Holy Communion can be included
What is the Committal? The committal is a particularly solemn moment of the funeral service. It takes place either at the graveside or, in the case of a cremation, in the crematorium chapel.
In the cemetery or churchyard, the family will gather round the grave into which the coffin is lowered. In a crematorium, the words of committal may be accompanied by the closing of a curtain. The committal can be a very emotional moment. Many who are suffering grief find that, even in their sadness, the words of prayer can lift them towards the experience of Christian rejoicing in the knowledge of life beyond death. The offering of prayer and the trust that the person is in God’s safe hands can begin the process of healing the grief of loss.
How do we arrange a funeral?
The funeral director plays a very important part in all these arrangements and will want to know if the funeral is to be in the parish church or if the vicar is to take the service in the crematorium. Everyone who lives in a parish of one of the churches in the Fosse Team has the right to ask for a member of the clergy or other minister to take the funeral service. You do not have to be a regular church-goer. As a general co-ordinator, the funeral director should be your first port of call and will take the burden of worry off your shoulders.
If you would like one of our clergy to take the service, please mention this to the Funeral Director and he will contact us. Sometimes a person may have left a paragraph in their Will describing the sort of funeral arrangements they hoped for.
If you have had a death in the family, please contact us. We in the Fosse Team will do our level best to help you in every way we can in preparing for the funeral and support you afterwards.
You can find more about funerals in the Church of England by visiting the Church of England Funerals website.