Church provides additional support for the bereaved

The Church of England in Newton and Flowery Field is launching a programme of additional support for those who have experienced a family bereavement during these sad times.

Bereaved families can still arrange Church of England funerals and in addition, families will be offered the opportunity to organise a memorial or remembrance service at a time when everyone can freely meet again.

The Rev Sheila O’Flaherty, Priest in Charge of St Mary’s Newton with Flowery Field, explained: “If you or someone you know has been recently bereaved, the Church of England is here for you. Everyone is welcome to arrange a Church of England funeral, or to plan a future memorial service at a time when we can meet again. 

“Neither you nor your loved ones need to be religious or come to church. Perhaps more importantly, vicars are there if you just want someone to listen to your story and the memories of the loved one you’ve lost. Talk to us, we can help.”

In normal times, a vicar would discuss with a bereaved family exactly how they would like to say goodbye. They would meet with them in person and discuss which music, bible readings, and prayers they would like.

Today, amid the coronavirus lockdown, vicars are still having that discussion but by phone, email or Zoom to enable people to plan the perfect funeral for their loved one.

“Not all Church of England funerals are the same,” added Sheila. “They are as unique as the person whose life we are remembering.

“There are some common elements such as a Bible reading and prayers, but most of the service has elements to make it personal to individuals, their family and the person who has died with music, eulogies, poems of their choice to both celebrate loved ones life and say goodbye to them.

“Much of this has not been able to happen because of restrictions limiting the length of a funeral at the crematorium and cemetery chapels. Social distancing measures have also reduced the number of people able to attend, and family members have been unable to hug and console each other, adding to their grief.

Sheila continued: “Numbers attending funerals in our graveyard are not restricted in the same way with either time or numbers attending as we have a very large area in which family can still be socially distanced, celebrate their loved one’s life and say good bye to them in a meaningful way.”

The Acting Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Keith Sinclair said: “We are living through an incredibly difficult time but urge people to know that the Church is there for them, whatever they may have been through, wherever they are.

“We are living through a profound moment for our nation and the world, the effects of which will be felt for a long time to come.

“But the Church remains a constant Christian presence in every community and an anchor of hope for many. I would wish for everyone to know that the Church is here for you. Talk to us, we can help.

“Contact your local vicar if you would like to talk to us about arranging a funeral, memorial service or attending a remembrance service, and the Church is here for you if you simply want someone to listen to your story.”

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