One of the worst experiences in life is when someone you love dies. It is here at the most painful moment we find that Jesus can offer the most comfort, hope and love. Death is a central feature of the Christian faith, because it is the finality of death which Jesus came to undo, to offer us new life, eternal life, with him once we have passed on.
When families come to us for the funeral service of their loved ones we seek to provide whatever support and comfort we can, and will help you through the service arrangements, ensuring the final moments with your loved one are precious and enable you to say goodbye and let them rest in peace.
At Pennington Church we are very experienced at walking with people through grief. Of course there are our clergy who will support you and conduct the funeral service, but beyond that we also have a team of bereavement visitors who will be happy to come and simply talk with you over a cup of tea to keep you company and provide a listening and friendly ear. Once a year we have a memorial service when we recall those who have died, recently or sometime in the more distant past.
Everyone is welcome but we try to plan this service to include reading out the names of those who have died. So please do contact us before hand if you intend to come and would like your loved one's names included. Finally we have a Book or Remembrance which is always displays the people who have died in a particular month. This book is kept in a display cabinet on the way out of church as a constant reminder of those we have known and loved over the years.
What happens when someone dies? - Practically
There are two different ways of talking about this - practically and spiritually. Here we're going to talk about the practical concerns of what we do when someone dies. Later on we'll talk about the spiritual side of things. When someone dies in our parish the first we hear of it is normally via the Funeral Director who calls us to ask if we will handle the funeral.
We are normally very happy to do so as long as the person or the person's family live in the parish. Anyone who lives in our parish is entitled to a church funeral, not just those who have been baptised or those who worshipped regularly with us. However, the service we provide is very clearly and strongly Christian at every funeral we conduct. It is therefore often the case that those who were not Christian's choose to have their funeral elsewhere.
When we are invited to conduct a service though we will take all the details we need from the Funeral Director and then make contact directly with the family to arrange a visit. When one of the clergy from Pennington Church visit the next of kin it is sometimes helpful to have a few other close family or friends present too so we can build up a good picture of who the person was that has died and get to know folk a little too.
At this visit we will talk to you about all sorts of things and sort the whole funeral service out with you. We'll guide you through the service and the hymns you may or may not want to sing. We'll make sure you've had a chance to ask for any special elements within the service and of course we'll spend a lot of time just listening to your memories and reflections on who this person was that you now miss. We will especially ask if there any pictures you have of your loved one. We will often create an order of service with the hymns etc on and it nice to have a picture on the front cover of it. If this isn’t possible Although we can of course speak on your behalf about your loved one we are always delighted when a family member or close friend can say something themselves at the funeral service. It is a difficult thing to do for many people but it does offer a much more personal reflection than a clergyman can achieve. If this isn’t possible we may ask you to write something that we could read on your behalf at the service. When the meeting is complete we will want to pray with you.When the meeting is complete we will want to pray with you. If we are creating an order of service, then we will want you to look through the draft before it is produced, to check that all the information is correct.
On the day, we will meet you at the church and conduct the service in the way we’ve all agreed and we will offer the orders of service for people to keep as a reminder after the service is over. If you would like one of the clergy to attend the reception after the service, we would be happy to do so, but would need to be asked before the day, because often there are other things that get booked into our diaries after the service and we would need to set aside more time.
After the service we have a small team of visitors who will contact you about 3 weeks to a month after the service to ask if you would like someone to come round and listen to you. They are church people who have been trained to listen in this area. They are not trained ‘counsellors’, but are there to here how you are getting on. If you are in deeper need they will be able to put you in contact with more professional help.