Grief and Commemoration
Although every individual has a different experience of grief, soon after the death of a loved one, some people feel lost amongst the many important decisions that have to be made. We hope that these pages will help you to map your way through, or at least point you in the right direction, during this very difficult time. Do not hesitate to ring us at any time – a member of the Ministry Team can provide advice and/or pastoral care, according to your need, at any appointed time.
Every funeral service or memorial service is an important occasion. At Gerringong Anglican Church, we have a great deal of experience in conducting and planning funeral and memorial services. We seek to balance the interests of the bereaved family, the funeral company as well as that of our Christian community. The funeral service provides a public opportunity for people to express their grief; extend sympathy to the bereaved; to honour the person who has died; and to be reminded of the Christian truth and the hope and consolation it offers.
Funeral Director / Undertaker
When someone dies, one of the first things the next of kin is asked to do is to contact a funeral director. This can be a confronting experience, but the choice is an important one. Although you can change funeral directors at any time, it is usual that the same firm will be engaged to provide the following services:
- Remove the physical remains of the person who has died to another place, awaiting whatever funeral rites are to be held;
- Seek a death certificate from the relevant authorities;
- Place a death and/or funeral notice in the newspaper;
- Assist the family of the person who has died in planning funeral rites (e.g. finding, recommending and/or booking a venue; organising flowers; providing cars and drivers; providing a coffin or casket; finding a venue to provide post-funeral hospitality; booking caterers etc.);
- Help the chief mourners in thinking about burial or cremation, and organising for their wishes to be carried out, including (where applicable) returning cremated remains to the family for interment, or laying them to rest in some other way.If you have not engaged the services of a funeral director before, we can provide you with some advice if requested.
Time, Day and Date
Once in touch with a funeral director, they will make a time to meet with the next of kin to discuss the funeral arrangements. There is no set number of days which should elapse between someone’s death and their funeral, and no set day of the week or time that a funeral should be held.
At Gerringong Anglican, we are unable to hold funerals on any Sunday or public holiday, and likewise the week before Easter and the week straddling Christmas Day (25 December). There is no need to rush to select a date – indeed funerals can be delayed to allow for family members to fly in from overseas, or to assist in the grieving process. The funeral director will help you make such decisions.
If you plan to have a funeral at Gerringong Anglican (and this ministry is open to all, whether regular or not-so-regular churchgoers!), the funeral director will contact us initially to check for available times and dates, organise a time for the family of the person who has died to meet with us, and then will usually hand arrangements for the service itself over to us. Please don’t go ahead with any firm arrangements without consultation with one of our ministers first.
We will arrange for one of our ministers to be the Officiant at the funeral. Clergy of other denominations are not able to officiate at funerals at Gerringong Anglican; however if appropriate they may be invited to assist in the service.
Funerals and memorials must conform to the Service set out in ‘The Book of Common Prayer (1662)’; ‘An Australian Prayer Book (1978)’; or other authorised Diocesan sources; the details of which will be discussed as required at your interview with the Officiant.
Unless you wish to have no music at the funeral, an organist appointed by us will play. If you would like alternate musicians to be used, all music performed at the funeral and those performing it must first be approved by the Officiant.
Unfortunately, due to the short period of time which is usually available to prepare for the funeral, it may not always be possible to fulfil all your requirements. Please understand that non-sacred music is more suited to a non-liturgical funeral rite (such as a wake) than at the service. It is not necessary to have hymns, but if you believe one would be appropriate (and that the congregation will sing it), please discuss this with the Officiant.
Printing Orders of Service
The order of service is planned in consultation with the minister involved with the service and needs to be approved by him. For this reason, please do not begin any printing until the minister has given approval. We can arrange for copies of a special Order of Service to be printed for you.
Tributes or Eulogies
In recent times eulogies have become common in funerals. A Christian funeral service seeks to honour the dead within the context of a corporate act of worship, the focus of which is to honour God, who created us all and in the life of Jesus Christ extends His love to all. There is a place for carefully written and well considered statements recording the contribution that the deceased has made in his/her lifetime. It is not an occasion for expressions of personal grief or inappropriate evaluations of the character of the deceased. We recommend that the family prepares a brief summary of the life and qualities of the person who has died and then appoints one or more of their number, or somebody to represent them, who is used to public speaking, to read it at the service. This may be formal or informal in style, but should reflect the nature of the person who has died as well as the solemnity of the occasion. We also recommend that the eulogy be written out in full, so that if the person appointed to deliver it becomes overly upset and unable to continue, someone else may read it. If the family wish, the Officiant could help here, or even read the tribute on behalf of the family. Other tributes are often best left to a less formal, non-liturgical gathering, such as the post-funeral hospitality, or a quiet family gathering.
You will need to select one or two appropriate readings for your service. Again, this will be discussed at your interview.
It is customary for the minister to deliver a short address at the appointed time in the service.
Our church already is provided with attractive floral arrangements, so no extra flowers are required. If, however, you have some special requests, you should discuss this with the funeral director and with the Officiant. Floral tributes sent to the church will be placed near the main entrance. The funeral director will ask you what you would like done with them following the service.
The parish hall is available as a venue for hospitality after the funeral. We have a team in our church community who can provide some light refreshments, or we can put you in touch with local caterers. Please discuss this with the Officiant at your interview.
There are two sites on our property available for on-site parking. If more parking is required, there is often street parking nearby and several free car-parks within 100 metres of the church.
The ministers ask for no fee for their role. A donation towards any costs to the church for catering, printing, etc can be discussed with the Officiant at your interview.
After the Funeral
A member of our Ministry Team, often the Officiant at the funeral, is available to continue the funeral ministry at the graveside or crematorium if requested.
Please discuss your wishes with the Minister.