Death is the most painful parting which humans experience. It may be something for which people are prepared or it may be very sudden. Whenever it happens, there are immediate pressures and long term needs.
Everyone reacts differently to death. Some people want space to be on their own. Others need to be with friends. Many will seek outside support. If you, or someone you know, has recently lost a friend or relative then these words may be of some help. You are in our thoughts and prayers at this time.
Christianity and Death
Christians believe that the whole of our lives fall within God’s plan. Sometimes we do not understand why things happen the way they do, and it is right to struggle with God when we are hurting. We also believe that God’s loving purposes extend into eternity. Human lives are part of a bigger picture of which only he is fully aware.
Many wonder what happens to their loved ones after death. Death is a step into the unknown, such that several Christian views of the afterlife have emerged. In short, Christians believe that people are held in God’s love beyond death and that our life continues in union with him. Ultimately, the Christian hope is that God will make a new world in which bodies and souls are renewed in perfection and forever. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, so we believe he will raise all the saints on the last day.
Funeral and Memorial Services
Christian funerals are a crucial part of the grieving process. Funerals hand our loved ones over to God’s care. The dead live on in our memories, hearts and prayers, but now rest in God’s hands.
Funerals are a chance to recall a person’s life. We give thanks for the important events in their life, all they did and might have done. We remember the good they brought. We hope to learn from their example. We also seek healing of wrongs, done by or to the deceased, and ask for closure.
In these ways, funerals help us say goodbye. Farewells are very important, however sad and painful. As many as possible should be encouraged to attend, including children, since it is an opportunity to help them say goodbye.
Christian funerals also ask questions of our own lives. While we always cherish memories of our loved ones, they are now in God’s care. Funerals point us forward. Rembering is very important, but some remembrance can trap us in the past; our loved ones should want us to use well what is left of our lives.
- One of our parish clergy will visit when you arrange a funeral with us. They can lend a listening ear, give practical advice about the funeral, and offer to pray with you.
- We have three specially trained Bereavement Visitors who are available (should you wish it) to meet for longer periods of time after the funeral.
- The parish holds a special remembrance service every November. The recently departed are recalled by name and there is a chance to light a candle in memory of each.
St Mary’s has a memorial garden with space for leaving flowers and benches for sitting to enjoy the peace.
There are times when we cannot find the right words or when other people say it better. Here are a few thoughts about death and bereavement.
‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord. ‘Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ – John 11.25,26
Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end. – John Donne
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5.4
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side; bear patiently the cross of grief and pain; leave to thy God to order and provide; in every change the faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end. – Katharina von Schlegel