A resource is coming soon! In the meantime, check out this great information from the Diocese of New Westminster!
When someone close to us dies, whether at the end of a long illness or without warning, we are deeply affected. As we grieve our loss, we may find ourselves asking questions about the meaning of life, death, and our faith. The Anglican Church of Canada offers support in your bereavement and a hope which points beyond death to resurrection and new life.
How does the church provide care and support?
Although none of us knows what lies beyond death, our Christian experience teaches us that the God whose love has upheld us in life will keep us safe in death. Both clergy and lay people are available to help families and dying individuals at all stages of death and afterward. If possible, it is important to involve clergy before the death for pastoral support, advice or to anoint with oil the person who is dying or to bring Holy Communion to those gathered at the sick bed. Some parishes have hospice volunteers. These volunteers visit people in local hospitals and care facilities. Hospice workers have been trained to support and nurture those who are dying to enable them to die with dignity.
What is death?
In death bodily functions cease. Nevertheless, the Christian faith asserts that life goes beyond what we observe. Because of our belief that Jesus overcame death to live again, we do not consider physical death as the end, but as a time of new beginning. We are promised in Scripture that through the resurrection of Jesus we too may anticipate life after death for ourselves and for others.
What is a funeral, and what is a memorial service? Both services are rites offered by the church to mark the death, to give thanks for the person’s life, and to comfort those who mourn. A funeral service requires the presence of the body or ashes. The presence of the body or the ashes is often preferred, for this helps confirm the reality of death. Anglicans have two forms of funeral service. The Book of Common Prayer offers a traditional service, while the Book of Alternative Services provides a more contemporary form, with more opportunity for involvement by family and friends A memorial service is held if the body or ashes are not present. It is similar to a funeral in most respects, to help the mourners face death and to move through grief to healing. In addition to the funeral or memorial service in a church, a short service at the graveside or at a crematorium may be held
How is the service planned?
The clergy will plan with you a service that honours the deceased and celebrates their life. Service structure, readings, music, readers, prayer leaders, and the form and content of any eulogy are arranged with the family. In recognition of the equality of all in death, the coffin is normally covered with a pall (a large usually white cloth). Families may wish to celebrate Holy Communion at the time of the funeral as a means of affirming faith in a God who identifies with humanity in both life and death. Following the service, a reception is usually held. When we gather to eat and drink, we proclaim that life continues even in the face of death. Some parishes can provide space.
Can the funeral be held in a funeral home or other place?
While a service in a church is preferred, funerals can be held in other places. Consult with the priest who will be doing the service.
Is there a fee for a funeral service?
A flat fee of covers the church rental and staff costs. Rental of the hall may be available for a reception. How does the church help after the funeral?
The most difficult days for the people who have lost a family member or friend usually come after the funeral as they move through the various stages of the grief. The healing process over time helps to bring our feelings of grief into relationship with our proclamation of faith in the promise of resurrection. In the days following the funeral service the priest who conducted the service remains available to the family. In some parishes lay pastoral workers may also help. Friends from the congregation can offer love and encouragement in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Contact with others enables the mourners to find new avenues for life and support while they seek to come to terms with their grief.
We hope some of your questions have been answered in this pamphlet, but we know there may be more! We want this day to be filled with peace as you grieve and celebrate the life of your loved one. Do not hesitate to be in touch with any questions or concerns.