Funerals and Grief

Funerals

We don’t like talking about dying. You may be reading this out of curiosity, or because someone you love is very ill. Please remember that your local priest is available in moments of crisis and can offer much needed comfort and support in the days leading up to the death. You can phone us at any time of the day or night and we will make every effort to come and support you in prayer and/or by anointing the sick person with oil. You don’t have to be a church member, we are here for everyone in the village. You may certainly call the hospital chaplain if your loved one is dying in hospital.

After the death the Doctor will need to be called, and a death certificate issued. Once you have spoken to your funeral director of choice, he/she will contact us so that arrangements can be made for the funeral. The person from the church conducting the funeral will be either a Priest or a Reader trained in this ministry. We will visit you in your own home if appropriate, and guide you through the decisions that need to be made to make the funeral a fitting tribute to your loved one. These include which hymns (if any) will be sung, which Bible reading to have and what other music (live or on CD) to listen to. Family members and friends can take part in the service by being a pall bearer, delivering a eulogy, reading from the Bible or a poem or singing or playing music. Instead of expensive floral tributes you might like to ask for donations to a particular charity. Funeral costs can be limited by not having a printed order of service (as long as your chosen hymns are in the church hymn book) and choosing a simple coffin. Ask your funeral director for advice.

We encourage you to consider not following the coffin to the crematorium after the church service. We can do everything that needs to be done in the church and you will be able to greet and thank all those who have travelled a long way to be with you on the day. Some families prefer to have a private cremation followed by a memorial service in the church a bit later.

In East Bergholt burials are in the cemetery in the village. The garden of remembrance in the churchyard has place for ashes only and no monument is permitted there but an inscription may be made in the Memorial Book in the church. In Brantham burials still take place in the lower churchyard, though space is limited. It is possible to have ashes interred in the upper churchyard.

Often it is possible to serve simple refreshments at the back of both our churches after a funeral.
Please contact us if you need any help at all. We are here to serve you.

Grief

Grief is experienced when something/someone we love is taken away from us. Moving house, moving countries,the death of a loved person or pet…all these things cause us to grieve. Grief is a gut wrenching pain, emotionally exhausting and a lonely business. There are no short cuts. Alcohol and drugs dull the pain only temporarily, and create further problems of their own.

Some experts talk about stages in grieving. People can pass between bargaining with God (“If you let him live, I’ll go to church every Sunday”), denial (It’s not really happening!”), anger against God and the world generally (It’s all your fault!”), guilt  (“It’s my fault. If only I had…”) acute depression and suicidal tendencies (“There is no point in going on without him…”) and several other stages before being able to come to terms with what has happened. There is no particular order, you may find that you pass from one to another and back again.

Often people hear the voice of their loved calling them in the early hours, or see them as they walk into the room, sitting in their usual chair. We don’t believe in ghosts, the mind is a very powerful projector. This experience is usually very comforting.

Grief has no timetable. People say that time heals the wound, but when the wound is raw, that is not what you want to hear. We have found that time doesn’t heal the wound, but you do learn to live with the pain eventually. Be patient with yourself. Take one day at a time. Don’t make revolutionary life changing decisions like moving to another part of the  country, until at least six months have gone by. Grief paralyses rational thought. You may find that you can’t remember things like your own telephone number. Food might make you sick, or you may comfort eat and gain a lot of weight.

Do not be ashamed of your tears. Just as God gives us laughter when we are happy, He blesses us with tears in moments of sadness. I find that the English “stiff upper lip” is very unhelpful for healthy grieving. Jesus cried when his friend Lazarus died, we may surely also cry. Even people of strong Christian faith find saying goodbye very difficult. It is normal to ask if God really cares. If you cannot see his love anymore, look around and see it in the love and care of your friends. God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

The Lord be with you and grant you His peace. Please contact us if you would like to have a confidential chat.

Lord God,
You are attentive to the voice of our pleading.
Let us find in your Son
Comfort in our sadness,
Certainty in our doubt
And courage to live.
Make our faith strong
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen

(A prayer from Common Worship Pastoral Services)