When faced with the loss of a loved one, it is hard to be able to think clearly, let alone thinking about planning a funeral service, so we hope that the following information may help you
The first thing to say is that a funeral of a loved one acknowledges the closing of a human life on earth. A funeral service is an opportunity for family and friends to gather in a parish church or crematorium chapel to express their grief, give thanks to God and celebrate a life that has completed its journey through this life, and to commend the soul of the departed into God’s eternal keeping.
A funeral service conducted by a Church of England minister can be very short and quiet with only a few members of a family present, or an occasion of Thanks-giving or great solemnity with music, hymns, a eulogy offered by one of the mourners, the inclusion of favourite readings, and a full church. It is also possible for the body of the deceased to lie in church the night before a funeral service, and for a Requiem Eucharist to be held as part of the funeral ceremony.
Whatever the pattern of service, the words and actions all speak of a loving God and the preciousness to him of every human being.
The Choices You and Your Family Have
The person who has died may have left instructions in their Will describing the sort of funeral arrangements they hoped for. Naturally, the family will want to keep to such arrangements as far as possible.
Not everyone knows that they have the right to a funeral in their parish church, even if they and the departed/deceased have not been church-goers, nor do practising Christians always realise that they can have a Communion service as part of the funeral. The Border Benefice is the spiritual ‘home’ of everyone who lives within the four parishes and we welcome a funeral service for your loved one.
Parish clergy regard the taking of funerals as an important part of their work. They give a lot of time to visiting families, comforting those who are facing loss, finding out what service they want to use and helping them to arrange it. If the minister did not know the deceased person, then it would help to provide some details, especially if there is to be an address within the service.
The Funeral Director plays a very important part in the co-ordinating of the funeral arrangements and will want to know if the funeral is to be in the parish church or if the parish clergy are to take the service in the chapel at the crematorium. They will advise you on the fees for a funeral service in church, at a cemetery, or crematorium.
With regard to music, it is possible to have:
- an organist with music and hymns of your choice
- an organist with music and no hymns
- recorded music of your choice
- an organist and recorded music
- somebody of your choice to play a musical instrument.
The main part of the service takes place in the church (i.e. the readings, address, prayers and commendation), and then we either go to the cemetery or crematorium for the short service of committal. Some families prefer the whole service to take place in church, with just the minister accompanying the coffin to the crematorium.
The committal is sometimes a private occasion when the family wish to have the opportunity of saying their own personal goodbye to their loved one.
It is possible to have the funeral service at the Crematorium only, conducted by one of the parish clergy or even to have the service in the Crematorium and a service of Celebration/Thanksgiving back at the church on the same or a different day
Although rare until the Covid pandemic but quite frequent an option now, a funeral service can be conducted entirely at the graveside, including recorded music if desired.
You have the choice of either a modern or traditional service, both in church and at the crematorium chapel. Please ask the minister who will visit you to discuss the service for more details about the choices.
The Funeral Service
A lay minister or member of the clergy conducts the service and can either lead it all or the family may wish other people to take part, such as family members or friends, doing readings or poems, giving the eulogy or tribute, even singing or playing a musical instrument. Feel free to discuss with the minister who is conducting the service and can include hymns and/or music you wish to consider (see above).
Thanksgiving and Memorial Services
It is possible for you to have a private Funeral Service with Committal before gathering for a Thanksgiving or Memorial Service after this at the Parish Church, on the same day or on another occasion. The parish clergy are happy to discuss your Order of Service for this.
The Christian View of Death
A funeral service will hopefully be able to 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 strongest.
There are times when the death of a faithful Christian seems to be the consummation of all they have lived for and the funeral service is a triumphal departure for their true home into God’s loving arms.
Funeral services always raise profound questions about the meaning of life and death. Jesus himself believed in a life-giving God: ‘He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’ (Matthew 22:32)
Christians believe that Christ’s resurrection at Easter is the triumph of good over evil and of life over death and has made eternal life available to all.
What happens after we die remains a mystery. However, we often find the comfort we need is to be found in the promises of Jesus Christ, in the hope of the Resurrection to everlasting life and in the belief that our departed loved ones are safe in the hands of God. This helps us come to terms with death and bereavement.
In the days before and after the funeral there may not be much of an opportunity to reflect on these things, but the parish clergy and others involved in the service will be glad to offer help in thinking through how you have been affected personally by the death of your loved one. Please don’t hesitate to ask.
What do I need to do?
The first thing to do, if you haven’t done it already, is to contact the funeral director you would like to arrange the funeral details for you. They will take much of the details of the logistics of the funeral from your shoulders but according to your wishes, including contacting the church and minister if applicable. They will discuss with you most things concerning the funeral and all that they can do, and point you in the right direction of all other things. Having contacted us, we will then make contact with you and arrange to meet with you and discuss your wishes and thoughts for the funeral service in greater detail and together we would all hope to have the service you would want for you loved one. That is one of the last things you can do for them and we will do all we can to make those wishes a reality as far as we are able.