Sadly, you may be accessing this page because of the death of someone precious to you. Before going further, may we offer you our sympathy. Please feel able to leave a prayer request for us.
The following points relate directly to funeral services at our church, but may be of general help should you need to organise a funeral service elsewhere in the country.
Who is authorised to make decisions about a funeral service?
Normally this would be the next of kin, such as the husband or wife of the person who has died. If, say, the remaining family are adult children or adult siblings, it makes sense for them to ‘nominate’ one of the group to take responsibility for the organisation – but with full consultation with regards to the others involved. Alternatively, if the person concerned had no immediate family, decisions about a funeral service may be made by an executor.
In all cases, you should check whether or not any wishes were communicated beforehand either via a will or less formally.
What are the normal options for a funeral service?
You could opt for a service in church, followed by either cremation or burial. Alternatively, one local undertaker has their own chapel on site; a service may be held there and followed by either cremation or burial. Lastly, you can choose to have the complete service at a crematorium. In all instances, these services can be led by a minister from St John’s.
When does St John’s get involved?
We are the first point of contact (usually via an undertaker) in relation to anyone who lived within our parish, and/or who was attached to our church.
THE PROCESS ITSELF
Contact an Undertaker (Funeral Director). It makes sense, if possible, to find an undertaker with an established local reputation. A good undertaker can take a great deal of the pressures off your shoulders at this difficult time. Ask around, or contact the National Association of Funeral Directors. (Click to visit their web site where you can find a list of their members). As soon as you have made contact, the undertaker will guide you through the whole process, including that of registering the death. This has to be done before arrangements can proceed.
It is also a good idea to give some advance thought as to what sort of service would be appropriate, and what type of style. Would you want people to give flowers or donations to a charity? Did the person concerned have any favourite hymns or other pieces of music? Would they have wanted a ‘normal’ service or something more basic? The undertaker will advise you as to the choices, and also give you some understanding of the costs involved. When it comes to costs, the undertaker will include the church’s fees within the total invoice; you don’t pay us separately unless you require an additional ‘extra’ from the church.
Contacting St John’s clergy
In almost all situations, the undertaker will contact us directly to check our availability. We will then contact the next of kin to arrange a visit. That member of clergy would then prepare and conduct the service, including the cremation or burial. Should it be decided to hold the service at St John’s we would arrange for an organist to play (if required) and could also arrange for an order of service to be produced (again, if required).
Following a bereavement, you are likely to go through a whole range of feelings depending on your relationship with the person who has died. Most people find it helpful to talk to someone else, be it another member of the family, a friend or a work colleague. From a church standpoint, we are happy to ‘pop in’ for a chat; just contact us as and when.
Sometimes though more specific bereavement counselling is required. We can put you in touch with the various organisations that provide this (such as Cruse. Click to visit their web site).
In addition to the questions addressed here, you might like to see what the Church of England web site has to say.
Age UK has produced a very comprehensive booklet that covers all the small details of making the arrangements when someone dies. You can either request a copy from them (0870 500 99 66 and ask for Factsheet 27) or download it from their web site HERE. It is a PDF document and you will need Acrobat Reader installed in order to read it.
The National Association of Funeral Directors web site will tell you where to find your local Funeral Director and the site has lots of other useful information as well.