A funeral is used to mark the end of a person’s life here on earth. Family and friends come together to express grief, give thanks for the life lived and commend the person into God’s keeping. These can be a small, quiet ceremony or a large occasion in a packed church.
Everyone is entitled to either a burial service (funeral) or to have their ashes buried in their local parish churchyard by their local parish priest regardless of whether they attended church or not.
Some people find planning the funeral with family and friends helps in their grieving. Perhaps you already know something of what your loved one wanted. You may even have planned the service together some time ago.
If you are uncertain the minister who will lead the service can help you choose suitable readings, hymns and prayers. If they did not know your loved one well, they will want to talk with you to build up a picture of the person’s life, this may take only one meeting but sometimes it can be more.
In Christian tradition the funeral ends with a burial of either the coffin or ashes. If you have chosen a cremation you may bury the ashes in the churchyard, or use the crematorium’s Garden of Remembrance. The ashes may be buried a few days after the funeral with a very brief service.
Some deaths will be especially traumatic, distressing or unexpected. The Church has special funerals for children, or after sudden or violent deaths, including suicide. Talk with Philip about what is possible.
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Each funeral and each death is different. You might feel numb at first then a mixture of grief, gratitude, joy and anger – perhaps all mixed together. You might be hurting with the tragedy of an unexpected death, or perhaps you are grateful for a long and fruitful life.
Funerals can raise profound personal questions about the meaning of life and death, this is perfectly normal. There may not be much time around the funeral to properly reflect on these matters, but you can come back to them later and talk to Philip about how you are feeling and the questions and thoughts this has raised.
In many cases, arranging a funeral keeps people so busy that they don’t feel their loss fully until afterwards.
Grieving is natural and important, and it may take a long time. Many people find that others who have lost a loved one can offer valuable comfort and support. You may find the funeral services prayers and readings a comfort.
The churches which comprise Oldbury Benefice have annual memorial services (often held around the beginning of November) to remember those who have passed away and you may find it helpful to attend.
Bereavement support networks, such as Cruse, can be very helpful. There are also special organisations for people who are bereaved young or who have lost a child or unborn child, or who are bereaved by suicide or violence. Please see our Useful Links page for more information.