Death, Dying and Funerals

Revd Linda Cox and Revd Jan Waterfield, two of our deanery funeral champions, were at the CofE’s national Taking Funerals Seriously conference:

“During my years as a priest it has become clear to me that one of the most valuable things I can offer to bereaved people is an authentic relationship with them during this time of personal vulnerability. It is such a privilege to accompany parishioners on a journey from life touched by death to life open to hope.” Jan

“Walking with parishioners as we help them to get to where they need to be, is not only a privilege and honour, but also a humbling experience. What I can offer is not only time and a listening ear but the opportunity to talk about the person who has died, which friends and relatives may be fearful of doing. I see this as a gift, which does not end when the funeral is over.” Linda

As ministers in this Diocese, we recognise the importance of caring for the dying and the bereaved and taking funerals seriously as part of God’s command to ‘love your neighbour’ and Christ’s commission to ‘go into all the world and make disciples’.

This page provides resources and inspiration for clergy, lay leaders and congregations to engage with the many issues around this subject.

We're keen to hear feedback from churches that use these or other resources in developing death-confident congregations or supporting those affected by death, dying, funerals and bereavement: contact tc@lichfield.anglican.org

Time well spent

In a busy parish, a funeral for a stranger can sometimes feel like an intrusion into the daily calling to serve the faithful.

But while the commitment it requires is time consuming, taking a good funeral and caring for a bereaved family can be a vital and even satisfying ministry for many ministers, as this video exemplifies:

Time to Celebrate

Funeral ministry isn’t just for priests: Lay ministers are a vital part of the team in some parishes and Church of England Lay Celebrants are the answer to prayer for funeral directors hard-pressed for someone to take a Christian funeral for a client:

For more information about training for lay ministry including Church of England Lay Celebrants, see our Vocations and Training pages.

An example of someone who has recently emerged from the Vocations process with experience of funeral ministry both as a funeral director and lay celebrant is newly-Revd Richard Hume:

Death Confident Congregations

A working party is preparing further resources to develop Death Confident Congregations. In participating parishes, death champions will be identified to share best practice.

Following the national churches “Taking Funerals Seriously” conference, training will be provided around the diocese. Meanwhile, resources are available on churchofenglandfunerals.org and churchsupporthub.org

GraveTalk

GraveTalk sessions are run by churches, providing parishioners with a safe space in which to have open conversations about death, dying and funerals. This initiative was developed in the Diocese of Lichfield, so there is plenty of experience to share. Ask us if you would like more information tc@lichfield.anglican.org

Funeral Conversations

Resources are available for churches wishing to promote conversations with parishioners about their funeral plans. Contact tc@lichfield.anglican.org

Funeral Poverty

Funeral poverty is a significant issue for the families of one in seven people who die. Partnering with the Church of England’s Funerals Project resources and the Fair Funerals Campaign, we’re raising awareness of the issue with the following video – which can be used with congregations.

Organ Donation

Flesh and Blood asks the question, “what if the church saw blood and organ donation as part of its giving?” In February 2016, General Synod called on “all Church of England parishes to encourage their members to consider, as part of their Christian giving if fit and well enough to do so: a) becoming blood donors; and b) registering as organ donors and making their wishes known to their families so that their organs, where appropriate, can be made available to those that need them in the event of the death of the registered donor?” For churches wishing to promote organ donation, resources and speakers are available from tc@lichfield.anglican.org

Past experience - our own as well stories shared by our contemporaries and records from past heroes and saints - can be a powerful resource in supporting ministers and the bereaved. 

In this short video, Bishop Michael draws inspiration from the tale of St Chad's dying days.

Other Good Practice

Telford Deanery: The Funeral Question Leaflet