St. Mark’s, through its Sanctuary and staff, offers funeral rites which further confirm the faith fact that death does not have the last word on life. The service includes readings of scripture, which describe our ancestor’s realization that in life, in death, and in life after death we are not alone. And it proclaims that in Jesus, the Risen One, we have seen most clearly that the love of God, which is life, has no limits in time or in space. With this foundation of our faith reaffirmed, the worshippers move to gather up the remembrances of the life that has been lived and offer prayers of thanksgiving for the privilege of having shared this life with our loved one or friend.
While in 21st century city life funeral services are most often held at funeral homes, it is still appropriate to hold them in the church Sanctuary. If you wish, our minister will assist you in planning a service that reflects both the tradition of Christian faith and your contemporary experiences and expressions of faith.
While death separates us physically, we still hold all the feelings we shared with each other. It takes time to sort through these feelings and to learn new ways to live with them. This is what grief is all about! Be patient with yourself (and with each other in your family!) and give yourselves time to think and talk. There are no quick, easy ways, no short cuts through grief. When we take detours or try to avoid the emotions and the sorrows of loss, grief will pop up elsewhere in various disguises – irritableness, depression, physical illness. Relationships with spouses and children often take it on the nose.
Talk about your feelings. Sit with them and feel them. Reminisce. Bring a sense of “ritual” to the tasks of attending to clothes and personal affairs. Make a special point of caring for yourself – eat well, exercise, sleep – even if you don’t feel like doing so.
It is valuable to seek out a trusted friend or a professional – your minister, a counselor – and ask him or her to meet with you every other week or so to intentionally talk about your feelings of separation and loss. Our church office can offer referrals to group programmes, too.
Two books you may find helpful are Granger Westberg Good Grief and Alan Wolfelt’s Understanding Grief, Helping Yourself Heal. Both are available at local bookstores.
ROLLERCOASTER OF EMOTIONS
It is common for grief to run us through the whole range of emotions, from anger to blame to guilt, from a sense of sadness to a sense of relief.
Sometimes we swing from one emotion to another so quickly we begin feeling confused! You have probably noticed this in yourself and in members of your family.
Commonly these feelings rise and fall or come and go for some time, usually when we least expect them, or are prepared for them!
Most people soon feel totally exhausted. Sometimes the experience leaves us numb. These feelings are quite normal.
Since you have come to this page on our website it is likely that you are presently marking, or anticipating, the death of a loved one, friend, or colleague.
First let me extend to you, on behalf of the congregation of St. Mark's, our sincere condolences.
Whenever we find ourselves in the presence of death, regardless of the circumstance or the relationship, we easily become overwhelmed by all the details that need to be attended to and all the emotions that bombard us.
The turmoil strikes at the very centre of our lives, and always in a way no one else can fully understand.
Below are some reflections, prayers, and resources which we offer to you for your comfort, support, and healing.