One certain fact is that one day we all will die. But as Christians our faith is that for the Lord’s faithful, in death life is changed not ended. Our great hope is that we will be redeemed from death by Christ’s great victory and that as we are united with Christ by sharing in a death like his so we may also be one with him in his Resurrection.
Catholics will want to ensure that their funeral service reflects this their hope, and the faith of the Church.
There are two particularly helpful resources on our parish website.
The first is for those who are wishing to indicate their preferences for their own, funeral, and the second is for those who are preparing the funeral of another person.
‘Preparing for MY funeral’
It may be difficult for our next of kin to make detailed arrangements for our funeral at the same time as they deal with the grief and loss they will experience at our passing. They will be especially hard-pressed to prepare the funeral as we would wish if they do not share our Faith.
It can therefore be a real help to others when we ourselves give thought to our funeral arrangements ahead of time, and let them know what our preferences are, so that when the time comes they can be taken account of to the fullest degree practicable.
Making such preparations can give us peace of mind too, and be an occasion for finding a new assurance of faith by reflecting on, in particular, the various passages from scripture and the songs which the Church provides for funerals. These offer comfort and support at any time, but they are perhaps especially important for us as we enter old(er) age, consider more directly our own mortality, and experience bereavement more regularly.
This sheet, ‘Preparing for my funeral’ has been prepared to guide you through a consideration of your preferences with regard to the Funeral Liturgy, and highlights additional things you might also like to consider.
Mostly the things to think about in making our funeral arrangements are straightforward ones, However you may find it helpful to meet with your parish priest in order to discuss some of the arrangements for the Funeral Liturgy. Should you wish to meet with him, he will be able to help you consider what is best and practical for your particular circumstances. He will ensure the services are true to the tradition of the Church, as well as appropriate to yourself and those who will gather to pray for you.
‘Preparing a funeral’
The other leaflet, Preparing a funeral’, addresses the slightly different needs of someone who is preparing the funeral not of themselves but of a family member or friend. It will ensure you are familiar with the Church’s expectations as you begin to prepare, and before you meet with the priest.
Other resources are available on the website, eg full details of readings, and guidance with regard to cremation and burial of ashes, which will help you consider options etc.
Photograph: Kensal Rise Cemetery. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.