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A funeral is used to mark the end of a person's life here on earth. Family and friends come together to express grief, give thanks for the life lived and commend the person into God's keeping. This can be a small, quiet ceremony or a large occasion in a packed church.

The message at all Church of England funerals, wherever they happen, is one of hope. Although there is sadness because someone you know and love has died, in every funeral there will also be a message of hope in life after death.

We believe that through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will see that person again. It might be in very different form, in a very different way, but that is the Christian hope, and that is what everyone will get when they come to a funeral in the Diocese in Europe.

"On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death for ever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us."

Isaiah 25: 6-9 – The Lord will destroy death forever.

Where possible our clergy and authorized lay ministers will offer pastoral care and practical advice in funerals, although because of the wide diversity of national laws and customs within the Diocese in Europe the nature of our response will be governed by the proximity of the nearest chaplaincy and the time between a death and the funeral. In some situations, where a funeral has to take place within 48 hours of the death, it may be that a Memorial Service a short time later may be more appropriate.

Fees – because of the widespread nature of the diocese there is no standard fee for funeral services. In some instances, these are arranged directly with the church and minister and in others (as in the UK) church fees are included in the Funeral Director’s accounts.

In the event of a bereavement, if you are not already in touch with your local church or Chaplain please contact someone at the church at the earliest opportunity so that you can begin preparations for the funeral.

Facing big questions

The last century has seen everyday life and our awareness of death change as medical science has improved and violence decreased in many European countries. One result of these changes is that we easily avoid being reminded of death. Many of us don’t even use words like “die”. Instead, we say things like “pass away” or “when anything happens”. 

But if you know you are dying, your attitude may change. Now, you may want to talk more directly about what is going to happen to you. Aware of the remaining time being rather short, you may want to talk to someone about things you have pushed away until now, such as:

  • Is there a God?
  • Do heaven and hell exist?
  • What will happen to my body after I die?
  • Is there more to me than my body?

Knowing they are dying helps many people focus on what really matters to them. Often, that means people rather than things. If you are approaching death or an event has made you think hard about it for the first time, you may want to:

  • Patch up a relationship
  • Tell a parent, child, partner or friend that you love them
  • Discuss any fears or regrets you may have
  • Talk to someone you trust about your hopes for those you will leave behind
  • Give instructions about who should have any possessions you particularly value
  • Write a will
  • Ask someone to pray with you

It is hard to think of the world carrying on after your death. It may help to remember the ways you have changed your own part of the world. The list of possibilities is endless but yours may include things like bringing up children, providing employment in a business, sharing laughter through humour, giving purpose to others through voluntary work or showing kindness to a neighbour.

You may find it helpful to discuss your own thoughts, questions, hopes and wishes with a friend or family member or someone from your local church. There is no need to worry about asking questions. Sooner or later, lots of us ask similar questions. That doesn’t mean there are easy answers, though. The chaplain at your local church is used to talking about dying and all the questions it brings up, so get in touch with yours if you have questions or would like to talk.

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