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 which has now completed its journey in this world and to commend the person into God’s keeping.
Funerals can follow several models:
- A church service followed by a burial or crematorium
- A full service at the crematorium
- A crematorium service followed by a memorial/thanksgiving service in church.
- There is also a green burial site nearby, where a simple graveside service can be offered
Sometimes, the deceased has left explicit plans and requests. People are welcome to meet with the minister and arrange funeral service plans at any stage in their life.
If there are no plans, the funeral director or minister will be happy to advise you. We aim to be as flexible as possible so that the funeral will be a truly personal and special time for your family and friends.
Everyone has the right to have a funeral in their parish church, whether or not they were church-goers.
Who do I contact?
You will need to contact a Funeral Director (we can let you know names of local ones) and they will liaise with you and one of our clergy or lay ministers about the times and options available.
We will arrange to visit the immediate family – usually the next of kin – to discuss arrangements and advise on hymns, music, readings, and a tribute.
What happens at the funeral?
Whether at church or in the crematorium chapel, the minister will be there early to greet the family. The funeral director will bring the deceased in a coffin and may provide special transport for the immediate family.
The service usually begins with music, the entrance of the coffin and the reading of bible sentences about the resurrection hope, such as:
“I am the resurrection and the life” says the Lord; “those who believe in me, even though they die, will live…”
Once everyone is seated the minister will welcome you and say a prayer. Following that there may be hymns, readings and a tribute celebrating the life, a bible reading, and a short talk by the minister. There are prayers giving thanks for the life of the deceased, and asking for comfort and strength for those who mourn.
At the end of the service there are prayers commending the deceased to God’s mercy and love, and that is followed by a committal – either at the graveside if a burial or in the crematorium.
In all of our parishes the churchyards are still open for burials and the minister can advise on suitable memorials. Ashes can be buried either at the crematorium or our churchyards all have a special place set aside for burying ashes. There, a brief service may be held for the family some time after the funeral and a small memorial stone can be placed.
The funeral service will reflect the personality of the one who has died and the circumstances of their death. 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.
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 several months.
The minister will be happy to talk to you or pray with you at any time – just give him or her a call. The church also has trained pastoral visitors, with experience of bereavement, who can visit you in your homes and provide a listening ear. It is often helpful to be able to speak to someone about your loss, and we do our best to help, and to answer honestly any questions you may have.
If small children have lost a parent or sibling, we may be able to advise about books and other resources and help you to explain to them about death and grieving.
Our church is open each day. There you will find space and quiet, a place to sit, or pray.
Comfort is also to be found in the promises of Jesus Christ, in the hope of the Resurrection and in the belief that the beloved person is safe in the hands of God.
Memorial or All Souls Service
In early November each year we hold Memorial Services in Stoke sub Hamdon and Norton sub Hamdon. This is an opportunity for families to come together and remember their loved ones in a simple service – where their name will be read out for prayers and candles lit for each one.
Questions of life and death
Funeral services always raise profound questions about the meaning of life and death. Jesus himself believed in a life-giving God: ‘the God of the living, not of the dead.’ Christians believe that Christ’s resurrection is the triumph of good over evil and of life over death and has made eternal life available to us.
May the love of God and the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ bless and console us, and gently wipe every tear from our eyes: in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
If you are reading this because of an immediate need, we offer you our deepest condolences. Please do not hesitate to contact any of the clergy – Annie, Gary and Peter will be there to help you. As a congregation we will be praying for you.
Associate Vicar: Revd Annie Gurner.
The Keep, 1, Castle St, Stoke sub Hamdon TA14 6RE 01935 824167 firstname.lastname@example.org
Reader: Susan Laycock
7 Bishopston, Montacute, TA15 6UU 01935 822157 email@example.com