Funerals Fact Sheet
A Christian funeral
A funeral 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 of someone at the end of their journey in this world and to commend them into God’s keeping.
The Funeral service of the Church of England can be simple 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 may take place in a parish church, crematorium chapel or cemetery chapel. The order of service will be the same where ever the service is held. Where the family are regular communicants the funeral may take place in Church within a service of Holy Communion (called a requiem Mass). This will help people focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and will proclaim our unity with those who have died in Christ. The service will be longer and the order of service will be altered. Discuss this with the parish priest.
Whatever the pattern of service, the words and actions all speak of a loving God and the preciousness to him of every human being, and, in particular, the person you love who has died. Everyone has a right to a funeral in the Church of England church in their parish, whether or not they were churchgoers. Priests regard the taking of funerals as an important part of the church’s work and will gladly give time to talk to those who are facing loss, to be with them in their pain, and to help to arrange whatever kind of funeral service is most appropriate.
Planning the Funeral Service
There is a very clear framework for the Funeral service, but there are many possibilities and choices within it. Each funeral service is different, and reflects the personality of the person who has died and the circumstances of their death. Your parish priest will be happy to advise and assist you in choosing suitable readings, hymns and prayers and in ensuring that the life of the person who has died is celebrated and remembered appropriately. Don’t hesitate to voice your queries, concerns and special requests. Church of England Funeral services are particularly sensitive in their provision for funerals of children, and those who have died in distressing circumstances, such as an accident or an act of violence or suicide.
BUT first, immediately after the death, please contact a Funeral Director. At St Francis we recommend that whoever you choose they should be a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD). Membership of the NAFD is always a mark of both quality care and good value for money.
Hounslow Funeral Services, 154 London Road, Isleworth Middlesex, Tel: 020 8569 8373
Frederick Paine, 227 Twickenham Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, Tel; 020 8560 3975
Brown and Sanders, 512 Great West Road, Heston, Middlesex, Tel: 020 8570 3057
Holmes and Daughters, 3 Church Road, Ashford, Middlesex, Tel:01784 421015
Lodge Brothers, 44 – 45 Half Acre, Brentford, Middlesex, Tel: 020 8560 7499
Burial or cremation?
In many rural parishes, churchyards are still open for burials and for the interment of cremated remains. In most towns and cities, burials now take place in local cemeteries after a service which may be held in the local church, or the cemetery chapel.
These days many families decide to make use of the crematorium, and cremation is perfectly acceptable in the Church of England.
The scattering of Ashes can take place within the garden at the crematorium. Normally the scattering of ashes is included with the crematorium fees.
Some families request the burial of ashes, and this usually takes place a few days after the crematorium service. A very brief service is held at the place of interment, and attending this may serve to mark the end of the immediate – and busy – stage of the grieving journey. Special areas within the local cemeteries are often set aside for ashes or they may be placed within a family grave. The Funeral Directors are required, by the local authorities, to make a charge for the burial of ashes.
After the funeral
People who have lost someone close to them are often so busy with practical details and arrangements between the death and the funeral that they do not experience the full sense of their loss until later.
Grieving is a natural and important part of coming to terms with and healing this loss and it may continue for a long time. Your church is always available and willing to offer you any help you may require. You will often find that it is those who have suffered a close bereavement themselves, clergy or lay people, who can most easily offer comfort and support to those who mourn. Sometimes the prayers from the service, a few of which are given below, may help you find comfort in the promises of Jesus Christ.
A prayer for ourselves
Support us, 0 Lord, all the day long of this life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Father, you know our hearts and share our sorrows. We are hurt by our parting from (person’s name) whom we loved: when we are angry at the loss we have sustained, when we long for words of comfort, yet find them hard to hear, turn our grief to truer living, and our affliction to firmer hope in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Heavenly Father, you have not made us for darkness and death, but for life with you for ever. Without you we have nothing to hope for; with you we have nothing to fear. Speak to us now your words of eternal life. Lift us from anxiety and guilt to the light and peace of your presence, and set the glory of your love before us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The classic way to mark the place of burial or interment of ashes is to place a memorial stone at the location. These vary in appearance, wording and cost. We ALWAYS suggest that you talk over the design and wording with the Memorial Masons. The stones are normally placed on the site some weeks after the service.
Speak to your Funeral Director who will recommend a suitable stone mason.
Most Crematoria have Memorial Books into which you can have inscribed your loved one’s name.
Questions of life and death
‘God’s love and power extend over all creation. Every life, including our own, is precious to God. Christians have always believed that there is hope in death as in life, and that there is new life in Christ after death.’
For all involved, a funeral service may raise profound personal questions about the meaning of life and death. Christians believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection are the triumph of good over evil and of life over death and have opened the gate to eternal life for us.
Most Christians would describe hell as separation from the love of God. The separation is never what God wants, it is our own responsibility. Heaven, on the other hand, is about knowing and delighting in the presence and love of God and of the whole company of heaven. Whatever is wonderful about life here on earth is only a glimpse of the life that is to come.
There may not be much time around the funeral to reflect on these things, but make space later on to come back to them. Your parish priest will be glad to offer help in thinking through how you have been affected personally.
All Souls Candles and Easter Lilies
The next of kin normally receives invitations to participate in the Lilies for Easter and the Candles of Remembrance at the All Soul’s tide service in November. Contact the parish priest for further information.
Our thanks to St. Hilda’s Church, Ashford, whose fact sheet we have adapted.