Services - Funerals
The family of someone who has died desperately want and need to talk about their loved one. They want to fill the cruel absence that death has forced upon them with the memories, stories and recollection of their loved one.
It is of the utmost importance to me to spend quality time in listening sensitively to the family telling me their stories and by asking them appropriate questions, to begin to gain a picture and understanding of the life of the deceased.
I have had many families say to me that whereas they had been dreading the funeral service beforehand they had in fact found it to be a helpful, even healing experience.
What is essential to me in considering the funeral service is that the text, the prayers and the readings must meet and love the mourners in their need.
In funeral services I talk extensively about the bereaved, making them present, bring them back to life through word and story, sensitively sculpted together. I help make the idea of life in the presence of death, a real one, by signalling to the family how they can move from feeling close to the body of their loved one, to feeling close to their spirit instead, in the same way that those we love can feel close even when we are separated from them by many miles.
I try to reveal this in the service, so that the family leave with a sense not only of cruel loss but of a mysterious beckoning, a sense of promise, of a togetherness with their loved one which holds perhaps a greater closeness than even that which they had known.
Around this carefully presented portrayal of the loved one, I try to place the prayers and/or readings to cushion and embrace the mourners in their pain. I try to make them resources as important and as sweet as arms of comfort, a mug of coffee or a good night's sleep.
I never mind how the family want me to take the service, what they want me to wear or what they want included. Everything is their choice. Some families prefer a non religious ceremony.
Most services are at the crematorium or cemetery chapel but the venue can also be chosen by the family.
I always ensure that the service is taken with the utmost care, only my best is good enough for me, and that the words are delivered with grace and sensitivity.
In terms of costs, if the service is in the Medway or in the Bexley area then there is a standard fee set by local clergy about which the undertakers can inform you, and payment is normally made through the undertakers.
If it is further away than this or you are planning a more involved and longer funeral, I can let you know what the costs would be.
Please don`t hesitate to contact me if I can be of help.
WHAT FAMILIES HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT MY FUNERAL SERVICES.
`Thank you so much for the eulogy you gave for my mother. It was absolutely beautiful. `
`I felt I simply had to write and thank you for the beautiful service. You showed a unique ability in being able to weave together the memories and details of my mother`s life in such a sincere presentation. We will treasure the gentle sensitive service.`
`We would all like to express our thanks. You really managed to bring all our memories to life. Thank you for the warmth and love you have shown, your caring and compassion.`
`The unique ability you have of weaving together the memories and details of a person`s life in such a sincere presentation left everyone present with a lasting image of my mother. We will treasure the memory of the service.`
`Thank you for the beautiful funeral service you gave. Our heartfelt thanks will never be enough, your gentleness will always be remembered.`
`Thank you Jonathan from the bottom of my heart, you are a good man and a wonderful human being, please stay a `rebel` we need many more like you.`
`The service was wonderful, if you can say that about a funeral.`
`I can’t even find words to express how much your words meant to us as a family. You have this indefinable ability to breathe warmth and love into the eulogy, we feel that you know us personally`
`We have had many wonderful comments from our friends about the way my Mother’s life was told from childhood to her nineties in such detail.`
`As a family we feel blessed that we found such a caring and compassionate man to help us at such a difficult and sad time. My Grandson was very touched that you got down on your knees to speak to him afterwards.`
`You gave such a personal tribute that we can take comfort knowing that Dad had a perfect send off.`
`I cannot thank you enough for the way you conducted the service.I have recived so many letters and calls from people saying it was the most ‘moving’, ‘stylish’, ‘almost magical’ ‘loving’ service ever attended`
CHARTER OF MINISTERIAL BEST PRACTICE
- To always return calls from Undertakers promptly.
- To make the booking of a funeral the highest priority.
- Having received the details from the undertaker to contact the family promptly.
- To visit the family prior to the funeral.
- To provide the family with my personal number for ease of access.
- To respect the background, denomination, culture, faith and persuasion of the family.
- To respect the wishes of the family in relation to the service.
- To sensitively enquire about their loved one to establish as full an understanding of their lives as possible to be able to compose a carefully crafted and uplifting eulogy.
- To ask whether the family want a very religious, religious, gently religious or non religious service.
- To ask whether the family want the service, the prayers and any symbols used to reflect any particular Christian tradition.
- To ask what clerical or non clerical attire the family wish me to use.
- To take the service personally, with feeling and meaning, giving only my best and ensuring that it meets the highest standards.
- To be punctual, waiting for the family to arrive at the Crematorium or Cemetery Chapel.
- To greet the family on arrival.
- To keep within the time set by the Crematorium.
- To greet the mourners on departure.
- To offer the family whatever assistance may be of help to them afterwards.
- To keep the records of the funeral and a copy of the eulogy for future reference should the family request ministry from me again.
IN RELATION TO BURIALS
- To liase with the Cemetery staff prior to the burial to discover the location of the plot and to arrange the best time to 'prepare' the plot.
- To prepare the plot, when and where appropriate, on the day of the funeral, once it has been dug and prepared by the Cemetery Staff, by swathing the plot in white silk, so that no soil is visible when the family look down into it. The silk is well secured under the timbers at the sides which are themselves then covered with the cemetery's fake grass.
- To ensure that no extra work is occasioned to the Cemetery Staff.
- To strew the plot with coloured flower blossom prior to the coffin being lowered or after, so that the white silk and the coloured petals provide the most comforting aspect for the family.
- Once the coffin has been sprinkled with the earth to similarly sprinkle it with a small amount of flower blossom.
- To stay behind after all the mourners have departed to extract the white silk cloths, which is easily done by gently pulling them, and so to leave the plot ready for the Cemetery staff to close.
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