When somebody dies, there are not only feelings of loss or grief to be dealt with, there are also very often many practical matters to be sorted out, including arranging a funeral. Most people are happy to put this aspect in the hands of funeral directors (undertakers); and we are fortunate in Enfield that we have a number of reputable and professional firms to whom this can be entrusted.
If a Church of England funeral is stipulated, the funeral directors will typically arrange for the service to take place at a local cemetery or crematorium, and will ask the vicar or other minister of the parish in which the deceased person lived to conduct it (unless another priest - someone who is a relative or friend of the family, for instance - is invited to do so). At St Mark's, the vicar, Father Paul, always tries to make himself available for this, unless the funeral has already been fixed for a day or time when he has a previous commitment. For this reason it is helpful, if you would like Fr Paul to conduct the funeral, to contact him first; and to ensure the funeral directors know that you have asked him.
You may also like to be aware that it is possible for funeral services to be held in church, rather than in a cemetery or crematorium chapel. This is especially appropriate when larger numbers of mourners are expected to attend, when more time and flexibility is needed (most crematorium services are limited to 30 minutes or less), or where the deceased person or his or her family have a Church connection. St Mark's is very spacious and pleasing inside, and may be a more appropriate, practical or comfortable setting for certain funerals. In addition, we operate a very modest scale of charges for a church funeral (principally to cover our costs), so not adding excessively to the total bill. Fr Paul will be happy to advise about any aspect of this (tel: 020 8363 2780; e-mail: email@example.com. If you decide that this is the best solution, please advise your funeral directors.
Wherever the funeral is held, Fr Paul (or whoever will be conducting it) will ask to have a conversation beforehand with the nearest relatives to learn something about the person who has died, and to discuss the details of the service. If the relatives live locally, we prefer to do this by visiting them at home. Otherwise, it may have to be done by telephone. Fr Paul will ring to arrange this a few days before the funeral.
A funeral is, of course, a good-bye; but it is also an occasion for commending someone to God's safe keeping, and for giving thanks for their life and everything they meant to those whose lives they touched. So it is helpful to have thought in advance about any aspect of the person's life that seems particularly important, and that might be brought out in the service. If there are personal memories, reflections or other contributions which relatives or others wish to make, space can be made in the service for individuals to speak. For his part, Fr Paul will include a short sermon in his own words, in which he will try to bring out something of the individual's life and character. It is important to remember that this is a Christian service; and that the priest's words and reflections will be offered in that context.
In any case, please do not be afraid to enquire. The death of a loved one is a difficult time for most of us, and there often seems to be a lot to do in a short time. Your parish church is here to help you deal with the human and spiritual dimensions, and we are happy to be called upon to give what guidance and comfort we can.
You can find out more about funerals in the Church of England by clicking on: