Staying in contact with people and going out can be helpful to those who are coping with the loss of a loved one, especially those who have been left on their own. Here are some examples of ways to support them.
Not everyone who is bereaved will feel like going out, particularly in the first few weeks after a funeral, nevertheless, keeping in touch with bereaved people to let them know their church is thinking of them is in itself a comfort.
They can still be invited to your summer events, offering a hand of friendship and an opportunity to talk to others. If they decide to join in, it’s a great opportunity to show them the love and care of their church.
- Flower festivals can be a lovely opportunity for remembering. Flowers with meanings might be used, such as forget-me-nots. Leave a pile of small plain or coloured pieces of paper near a special display so that people can write their loved one’s name on and place it amongst the flowers. This special remembering display offers the opportunity to invite bereaved people for a specific moment of remembering as part of a wider event.
- GraveTalk is the Church of England’s resource to help people talk about death, dying and funerals. It can be held at any time of year. In the summer, a cream tea or cool-drinks-and-ice-cream event may work well. You might even consider doing one outdoors, providing the conversations could not be overheard by anyone not participating.
- People may come to the churchyard more often over summer, either to visit a grave or because they are simply passing through on a summer’s day walk. Keep on top of church yard maintenance so it always looks its best. Some churches offer a welcome message or prayer on the entrance gate that people will see when they come in.
- You could offer an open church on a particular day in summer, just for remembering, and publicise this. If there is a pastoral team who could be available to offer cool drinks and pray with people if they’d like that, visitors will be welcomed by a friendly face rather than an empty church. As well as having candles available to light, you might like to offer a visitors’ scrapbook which they can write in or stick photos in. Ask them to record their happiest summer memories of their loved one in the book. It may be left for a few weeks for everyone to look at afterwards and will be a reminder that although our loved ones are missed, we can remember happy times with them in this life, and look forward to happy times again in the next.
- As another way of remembering, you could identify a tree in the churchyard as a Remembering Tree for everyone in the parish. Bereaved families can be invited to leave flowers there whenever they want. The tree may have some words of comfort attached to it, on a small plaque for example. This could be helpful for those whose loved ones are buried far away, but they still want somewhere to go and remember on special anniversaries.
Let bereaved families know you’re thinking of them on anniversaries of a death or funeral. There are three designs available on the Church Print Hub.