For a Christian, a funeral is an important occasion. It marks the close of a human life and it provides the opportunity for the family and friends to express their grief. But it also is a chance to give thanks for the life which has completed its journey on Earth, and to commend the soul of the departed into God’s keeping.
The funeral service of the Church of England can take many forms, according to circumstances and the wishes of the deceased and their family. It can, for example, be short and simple with only a few members of the family present, or a solemn occasion with music, hymns and a packed church.
It may take place in a parish church or a crematorium chapel or in a cathedral. It may use the traditional language of the service in the Book of Common Prayer or the modern version in Common Worship. It may include a celebration of Holy Communion or even a requiem mass.
Moreover, a church service may be held at a later date to give thanks and celebrate the life of the deceased person (called a ‘Memorial Service’). Quite often families arrange a small private funeral and then invite the extended family and friends to a memorial service held a few weeks or months later.
Whilst funerals and memorial services can take a recognised ‘form’, each will be a unique reflection of the life of the departed loved one, tailored to the requirements of those who are left behind.