If someone has died during the Covid-19 pandemic, their funeral will have been quite different to how their death might otherwise have been marked. Families and friends will want to gather together to remember the person who has died once it is again safe to do so. This session explored how churches might support the bereaved at the time when restrictions are lifted.
Remembering: A future concern – delivered May 14th 2020
Slides from the presentation offered by Canon Sandra Millar, Head of Church of England Life Events.
Download here (PDF) Webinar Remembering 14th May 2020
There were lots of questions asked at the webinar and we can’t answer them all but these are a small selection of common issues which the attendees were interested in:-
Q: We are encountering questions about what/if we should charge for memorial/remembering services – some of these may be very large and entail much work and resources – similarly to a big funeral. Where the funeral has been small and taken place at a crem, the church will not have received much in the way of fees, yet we don’t want to alienate or upset people over financial charges. Is there any advice on this?
A: There is currently no legal provision in Church of England parochial fees for charging for a personal remembering service, and group memorial and remembering services ought to remain free for the community, as they always have done. The volumes of personalised services may be unprecedented in the Church of England in the coming weeks and months. Sensitively suggesting a no-obligation church donation is permitted currently and this may be something churches want to consider incorporating into the planning for these events. Churches must never insist on donations though. Bearing in mind the financial circumstances of many families will be difficult and uncertain for some time to come – possibly for years – your careful discernment will be needed about whether and what to suggest as a donation. The relevant national advisers will be thinking about this issue in the coming weeks and any formal guidance that comes from that will be issued in the usual ways.
Q: Would it be possible to get the Life Events Diary to remind us of dates – not just relating to funerals, but also such things as birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc? These dates may help with remembering services and keeping in touch with people at difficult times.
A: Yes, absolutely. Contact email@example.com for guidance on this, or come along to one of our webinars: lifeeventsdiary.org/webinars and you’ll be shown how to do this.
Q: When we get back to normal day to day ministry, I’m concerned that this ongoing support for people who are grieving may prove to be a big challenge, one could spend so much time on this and yet we will still be doing all other parts of ministry? Any wisdom on this?
A: It will be a big challenge, but churches won’t be the sole provider of bereavement support – remember there are lots of other organisations specialising in bereavement which you can refer people to. See also the Funerals web page on the main Church of England website. Involve your congregation too. You might like to think about forming a bereavement support team if you don’t already have one, and support them in getting some basic training. The essential role of the church is in sharing the Christian message of hope that death is not the end, and that God stays with us through the hardest of times. Group discussions on death and dying may be one way to channel efforts into supporting larger numbers of people and sharing this hope as part of deeper discussions. GraveTalk is the Church of England’s ready-made ‘death cafe’, which could be run when it is safe to do so.