Ritual and Remembrance
These resources have been developed by the Priority Areas team to help those responsible for funerals, memorials and remembrance services, and to encourage them to revive old rituals as well as trying new, authentic, and meaningful rituals that help people, families and communities heal from loss and grief. They cover these areas:
Coping with death
It is not unusual for a minister within a priority area to regularly have two or three funerals in a week, or even more on occasion. Yet many who conduct funerals say it is not the number of funerals they take, but the circumstances that sometimes surround the death that can be the hardest to cope with.
People living in Scotland's poorest communities bear disproportionately many of society's problems. There are higher numbers of young deaths, deaths from murder, suicide, alcohol and drugs, and often people die at a younger age from diseases for which there are preventative measures.
While people often show remarkable resilience in overcoming suffering, the death of a close family member, particularly a young person, can put additional stress on an already volatile situation. When tragedy strikes, finding ways to help the family and community heal can be demanding, emotional and stressful work.
It is often the church to which the family and community turn for a unique blessing and comfort, and those responsible for funerals are trusted to manifest the faith of the church and to incorporate the blessing and concern of the whole community in what he or she says and does.
It can be an awesome and taxing responsibility, and it is with this in mind that the Priority Areas Committee conceived and developed these resources.
Using these resources
Services can reflect both the traditional end-of-life works of comfort and hope and also include spontaneous language and practises that arise from the fibre of the community, reflecting the faith of people seeking to express their grief in different ways.
We hope this resource will continue to grow and that those responsible for funerals will consider making contributions to it. Sharing with others our own personal journey with families and communities during some of the most difficult of times can be a comfort to colleagues, and sharing things you have tried to do at services or when creating a memorial can be a resource and an inspiration to others when faced with some of the most difficult tasks of ministry.
Whilst much of the work done to date has been developed through engagement in our poorest neighbourhoods we know that similar problems are experienced elsewhere and our hope is that these pages will be an encouragement and resource to many others also.
If you feel you have a contribution to this resource please contact Kat Watts (e: firstname.lastname@example.org, t: 0141 248 2905).
Ritual and Remembrance Committee: Rev. Catherine Beattie, Rev. Roddy Hamilton, Rev. Audrey Jamieson, Rev. Christopher Rowe, Gayle Irvin, Noel Mathias and Kathryn Watts. We also want to thank Rev. Liz Henderson who serves as a consultant to this committee.
- Bereavement Service - Gone but not forgotten- Priority Areas Minister, Christopher Rowe, speaks about remembrance services and their importance today. Watch this video here.
- Easter Journey of Remembrance- A sample remembrance service by Rev David Locke from his time at Barlanark Greyfriars Church in Glasgow.
- An experience of a Service of Dedication for a Memorial Bench- An account of a service to dedicate a bench as a memorial to a 17 year old young man who was stabbed and killed.
- Dedication of a table on a Scottish Island in memory of a young man who took his own life in prison- A sample dedication service for a table which was next to a bench which had already been dedicated to the younger brother of the young man who died.
- An idea for a community memorial event
Young people and children
- Ribbons - something to take away. Priority Areas Minister, Catherine Beattie, tells the story of helping a friend to plan a service for a young person. Watch this video here.
Ideas for services
These are samples of services taken by Priority Area Ministers:
- Crematorium Service for a baby
- Funeral of a young man (21) killed in a road traffic accident
- Funeral of a murdered 21-year-old-girl (a drug user and working latterly as a prostitute)
- Snowflake - An idea for a service where young children are present.
- Two funeral services for baby twins who died two weeks apart
- A funeral for a baby who died in the 14th week of its mothers' pregnancy
- Grief - private or public. Priority Areas Minister, Christopher Rowe, discusses the Communities role in Ritual and Remembrance. Watch this video here.
- A Military Death - A Chance To Mourn. Priority Areas Minister, Christopher Rowe, discusses the Military’s role in Ritual and Remembrance. Watch this video here.
- ‘Dealing with Suicide’. Church of Scotland Minister,Jayne Scott, discusses participation in traumatic funerals. Watch this video here
- ‘Turning to the Coffin’. A ministers experience of how small changes to the use of space can help those who are attending a funeral. Watch this video here.
- ‘Where is the Hope’. Looking for hope in the midst of bereavement ministry. Watch this video here.
- ’Fragility of Life’. Struggling to make sense of tragic circumstances. Watch this video here.
- Kaddish - A look into the Jewish faiths response to Ritual and Remembrance written by Paul Chapman
Articles written by a Priority Area Minister:
- Service for a women with special needs who died suddenly at the age of 34- Sample of a service taken by a Priority Area Minister
- Funeral Service for a 25 year old suicide - sample of a service taken by a Reader of the Church of Scotland.
- Healing Wounded History by Russ Parker - Available in print from Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd and available online.
- The Last Journey - Reflections for the Time of Grieving by John L Bell. Available in print from Wild Goose Publications (Feb 1997) and available online.
- 'After a Suicide' written by Scottish Association for Mental Health – Available to download here.
- ‘The Love which Heals’ by John L Bell - Available in print from Wild Goose Resources and available online. View Extracts.