Leaflet 8 ‘ Giving Thanks For a Life’ Gives More Information 
What To Expect
Arranging the time and place for a funeral is negotiated through a local firm of undertakers, who will contact the clergy on your behalf. However, families are welcome to get in touch direct with us before or after a death, and when making plans. A service in the local church can provide an opportunity for friends and neighbours to gather to pay their respects, prior to a brief private committal at the cemetery or crematorium. The clergy are here to help those who are bereaved to understand and channel their grief, as well as to discuss the ceremony. We prefer to call locally and meet the next of kin whenever possible, to listen and take note of all that is said. Our concern is to care for the spiritual needs of all who live in our parish or who are bereaved at any time, not just when there is a service to conduct.

The Ceremony
The clergy are open to requests by family or close friends to contribute readings, poems or brief tributes. The singing of hymns and religious songs is encouraged since they provide an opportunity for all present to participate. It follows that these should be familiar and appropriate to the occasion. The clergy will guide your choices. Our churches have competent organists to accompany the singing and to play music on entering and leaving the church, as have the crematoria. Recorded music or songs, preferably on CD, can be played by agreement with the minister conducting the service. There are facilities for recorded music at most crematoria. At the West Herts. in Watford a very extensive range of ‘downloaded’ music is available by prior request through the undertakers and by agreement with the minister.

What Will Be Said
A Christian reflection on the life that has ended is an essential ingredient of the ceremony, celebrating all that has been good in their relationships and giving thanks for them. Expressing something of what a loved one has meant to those who have gathered to mourn, and putting their story into context is an aid to grieving. It is part of preparing to move to the life that lies ahead for those who are left. The words and prayers of the funeral service offer comfort to the bereaved, an opportunity for reconciliation and the hope of life perfected in heaven; all in the context of thanksgiving for the gifts of life and love bestowed by a loving and merciful Creator God.

Stages Of Bereavement
When you are bereaved the time of grieving can be long and difficult. This may give rise to feelings and behaviour you do not expect. Grieving follows many different patterns, but often you can recognise five stages that may overlap or recur.

1] Shock and disbelief. You may be unable to accept the fact of death. There may be feelings of numbness, panic, anger or unreality. It can last a short time, hours, days or occasionally weeks.

2] Facing the fact of loss. After a funeral, friends and relatives often go back to their own lives. Feelings of loss and loneliness may continue to strike. Sleep can be disrupted by vivid dreams and wakefulness. You may find yourself searching for the dead person or even think that you hear or see them. You are not going mad; it is a common experience. You may experience intense sadness or yearning, guilt, panic, fear, self-pity or anger directed at yourself or others.

3] Dis-organisation. You may now have accepted the loss of the old way of life, but feel unable to replace it with anything new. Sadness and aimlessness can make the easiest tasks an effort. You may neglect your home, forget to prepare proper meals and avoid going out. You may go to the other extreme, feeling an urge to go out all the time, over eat, smoke or drink too much, or become excessively tidy.

4] Despair and depression. If the period of disorganisation is unresolved, you may give up in despair and become more depressed. Adequate support can help ease, shorten or even prevent this stage developing.

5] Re-organisation and recovery. With time, the pain of grief lessens. You are building a new identity and finding a new purpose in life. It is important to renew old pursuits and take up new ones. You feel your energy returning and enjoy living again. This may seem disloyal to the person who died, but what happened in the past is always part of you and is not affected by enjoying the present.

With acknowledgement to Watford Peace Hospice Bereavement Service