Mourners walking up a church path dressed in black

Death, bereavement and the media agenda

The Revd Sandra Millar, Head of Church of England Life Events

Films books, television,  magazines, YouTube; suddenly the media is alert to the fact that death changes the living. When someone we care about dies, then our lives change – and the impact of bereavement is like ripples in a pond. Tragic or untimely death will often make obvious and huge ripples, even waves, but in our smaller communities, the loss of a much-loved friend and neighbour even in the fullness of years, can touch lives. Circles of impact cover miles and generations.

And the thing about death is that it raises questions as well as emotions. Sometimes those are questions about purpose, or about destiny, or just simply about how to face tomorrow.  Mental health professionals and volunteers are realising the link between loss and well-being. And whether the local church is involved in taking the funeral or not, there is a ministry of pastoral care to all the bereaved that is at the heart of the vocation of the Church of England.

That’s why this year’s biennial Funeral Conference is focussing on hearing about ministry to the bereaved. Some speakers, such as Tim Alban-Jones, have been part of tragic events that are seared on the national consciousness – but long after the headlines are forgotten, these tragedies shape localities.

Other speakers, like Dorothy Moore-Brooks,  are thinking about the loss of a child or a well-known local personality. And others such as Harry Hobson will be challenging us to think differently about long-term remembering in a digital age.

As always there will be a chance to visit the National Funeral Exhibition – and meet lots of fellow professionals, including bereavement charities, counselling organisations and others.  Funeral Directors are increasingly interested in going beyond the day in the support they offer, so this is a chance to find out why and how that might be happening.

The conference is spread over two days – June 7th and 8th –  come for one or come for both. The speakers are different, but the aim is the same: to help us serve our communities well and to transform hopelessness into hopefulness for all whose lives are touched by death.  We’d love to see you: book now.