Hardly a week goes by in this parish when we aren’t dealing with a funeral or cremationservice.
It is always a privilege to help a bereaved family at such a significant moment and to give thanks for the life of their loved one.
Sometimes we know the person who has died, but not always. We can build a picture of their lives through the reminiscences of their friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours.
Leading a funeral and helping a bereaved family is something we offer to anyone who lives in our parish, regardless of whether they had any connection with the church.
At Rowner we have a churchyard that is still open for burials, so we can offer a funeral and burial at church, or lead a service at the crematorium.
Sometimes, we have very clear instructions for what is required in a service: the deceased may have left a will or funeral instructions.
If not, we can help the family choose hymns and readings. And often there is a member of the family or a close friend who wishes to say a few words at the funeral.
As a parish priest my role is to support families through the initial stages of grief, help them through the funeral ceremony and visit them afterwards. To be trusted to be a part of that process is something I never take for granted.
We aren’t always great at talking about death in this country, so when it comes we can’t always find the right words to say to each other. That’s why the funeral service can be cathartic – putting into words what we are actually feeling.
Sometimes that also means we don’t put our affairs in order before we die.
I have made a will. I know now who should inherit what I own. I also have made clear what my funeral wishes are through the appointment of an executor.
You might want to think about doing the same. It will certainly help your loved ones when the time comes.
All funerals are services of thanksgiving for someone’s life, but it will be even more personal if you discuss things with your family now.
•ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, 174 Rowner Lane, Gosport PO13 9SU
Contact: (023) 9258 1834