Funerals

The Church offers a pastoral and liturgical ministry to those who are near death, and to those who care for them. When death comes, a funeral service provides both for the reverent disposal of the body of the deceased, and for the mourners' grief to be expressed and the Christian hope affirmed.

Christian faith is founded upon the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, as is expounded in Scripture, particularly by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. The Church teaches that the death of the physical body, however traumatic it may sometimes be, is inevitable, and necessary to transition to the greater and better life made possible by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This does not mean that grief is inappropriate or unseemly, but that the bereaved can be assured that, in Christ, they and their loved ones can share in Christ's resurrection. We do not pretend to understand fully what this means, but the life of the Christian Church is premised upon this faith.

The church is often contacted by funeral directors after a death. This is sometimes inevitable, especially if the death has come about suddenly or unexpectedly. But often a final illness can be of several weeks', months', or even years' duration, and those who are facing death, and their families and friends, may like to make contact with the Rector at an earlier stage. The pastoral support of the church is willingly offered to those who face death, and to all who are affected by the onset of the death of a loved one.

The death of a close relation or friend can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Complex legal procedures have to be followed, and it can be helpful to have the assistance of someone a little more detached from the situation. Solicitors and funeral directors have their role, but it can be wise to have a friend accompany you when you meet with them - indeed, they will often advise this. The General Register Office for Scotland also provides information to guide and assist those who have to complete these processes. This can be downloaded here. The Scottish Government has also published a useful booklet What to do after a death in Scotland, which can be downloaded here or obtained from the Register Office. The nearest office to St Aidan's is at the East Renfrewshire Council Office at Eastwood Park, in Giffnock, G46 6UG.

It is a legal requirement that the death be registered before the funeral can take place. It is advisable to make an appointment with the Registrar's office by telephone (0141 577 3008) to ensure that there is an official available to assist you. In certain circumstances, the law may require that the cause of death be investigated, and this may delay funeral arrangements for some time. This can be deeply distressing to the family, and we are ready to offer all possible pastoral support at such times.

As well as pastoral care and support, the Church offers a range of services to meet the particular needs and circumstances. Prayers can be offered with a person approaching death, and with his or her family, in their home, or in a hospital, care home, or hospice. This can, where desired and appropriate, include the Eucharist. Prayers can also be offered with the family after death.

Sometimes the family may wish to bring the body to the church the evening before the funeral. A brief service accompanies and follows the procession into church, which may include sprinkling the coffin with water as it passes the Font, in recollection of Baptism which marks the transition from the present life to that brought about through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This service may be followed by a time of silence, in which the family and the closest friends can grieve and reflect, and also give thanks, in the peace and stillness of the church building, in some privacy ahead of the more public funeral service.

The Funeral service can take a variety of forms, according to the circumstances, and the needs and wishes of the family. It provides an occasion on which family and friends can gather to pay their last respects and give thanks for the life of a loved one, and give expression to their grief, and also to the Christian hope in the resurrection. The context is an act of worship which expresses the Christian faith, and while there are some set prayers, there is also scope for choice and creativity in the selection of readings and hymns. Often poems and music may be presented by relations or friends as a form of tribute to a loved one, and these may be pieces which he or she particularly valued.

Sometimes a request is made that the Eucharist be celebrated at a Funeral. This is entirely appropriate when the deceased and his or her family are communicant members of the Church, and familiar with its liturgy. In the Eucharist, the whole Church is understood to be mystically present, and this includes departed members as well as those present at the service, and family and friends who for whatever reason are unable to attend. The Eucharist is a celebration of Christ's resurrection, and gives expression to the Christian hope that we, with Christ, and with the loved one who has just died, will be united in God's presence in eternity.

St Aidan's has no churchyard. Where burial (inhumation) is desired, this will need to be arranged at one of the municipal cemeteries. Burial normally follows immediately after the Funeral, and is usually attended only by the immediate family and closest friends. This both allows privacy to the mourners during the closing stages of the funeral process, and is often more practical where space around a grave may be limited.

While inhumation in cemeteries is available, in the majority of cases the body is cremated. There is a small Garden of Remembrance (Memorial Garden), between the church and the hall, for the
interment of ashes after cremation. Where it is decided that the body is to be cremated, there is often a brief service of Committal at the crematorium, usually immediately after the Funeral in church. It is also possible for the committal to take place in church at the end of the funeral service. As space is limited in the Memorial Garden, this is primarily for members of St Aidan's, but in special circumstances the Rector may agree to the interment of the ashes of others with a less direct connection with the church. A brief service accompanies interment, which usually takes place some weeks after the Funeral.
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