Caring for the bereaved in Newton and Flowery Field

THE Church of England in Newton and Flowery Field has launched a programme of additional support for people experiencing a family bereavement.

Families can still arrange Church of England funerals and, in addition, they will be offered the opportunity to organise a memorial or remembrance service at a time when we can freely meet again.

The Rev Sheila O’Flaherty, priest in charge of St Mary’s Newton with Flowery Field, said: “If you or someone you know has been recently bereaved, the Church of England is here for you.

“Everyone is welcome to arrange a Church of England funeral, or to plan a future memorial service at a time when we can meet again. Neither you nor your loved ones need to be religious or come to church.

“Perhaps more importantly, vicars are there if you just want someone to listen to your story and the memories of the loved one you’ve lost. Talk to us, we can help.”

In normal times, a vicar would discuss with a bereaved family exactly how they would like to say goodbye. They would meet with them in person and discuss which music, Bible readings, and prayers they would like.

They are still having that discussion but by phone, email or Zoom to plan the perfect funeral for your loved one.

Not all Church of England funerals are the same. They are as unique as the person whose life we are remembering.

There are some common elements such as a Bible reading and prayers but most of the service has elements to make it personal to you, your family and the person who has died with music, eulogies or poems of your choice to both celebrate your loved ones life and say goodbye to them.

Much of this has not been able to happen because of restrictions limiting the length of a funeral at the crematorium and cemetery chapels. Social distancing measures have also reduced the number of people able to attend, and family members have been unable to hug and console each other, adding to their grief.

Numbers attending funerals in our graveyard are not restricted in the same way with either time or numbers attending as we have a very large area in which family can still be socially distanced, celebrate their loved ones life and say good bye to them in a meaningful way.

The Rt Rev Keith Sinclair, acting Bishop of Chester, said we are living through an incredibly difficult time but urged people to know that the church is there for them, whatever they may have been through, wherever they are.

He said: “We are living through a profound moment for our nation and the world, the effects of which will be felt for a long time to come.

“But the church remains a constant Christian presence in every community and an anchor of hope for many. I would wish for everyone to know that the church is here for you. Talk to us, we can help.

“Contact your local vicar if you would like to talk about arranging a funeral, memorial service or attending a remembrance service, and the church is here for you if you simply want someone to listen to your story.”

• Find your local church by searching online for ‘A Church Near You’.

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