Death is an unavoidable part of life. But our Christian hope is that this is not the end. There is life beyond our earthly experience. Throughout the Bible we are assured of this. In his encounter with Mary following the death of Lazarus, Jesus reassures her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live…’ (John 11:17-27). And later, in John’s account of the last supper, Jesus tells his disciples, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?’ (John 14:1-7).
Christians believe that physical death opens the way to a new life in God’s presence. We can have confidence in a bigger story, because Jesus has gone through it before us.
John’s vision in the book of Revelation points us towards God’s new heaven and earth, where death and mourning, crying and pain will be no more (Revelation 21:1-4). The confusion, sorrow and even anger which we feel in response to death will not be part of our new life in God’s presence.
In the midst of grief our Christian faith gives us hope and assurance that this is not the end. Through Jesus, God promises us life beyond our earthly experience.
All of us will have experienced the death of a loved one and experienced the pain of grief first-hand or in supporting others close to us. For a long time our society has somehow conspired to silence talk about death or about dying; it has been a closed subject which many are frightened to broach but long to talk about.
Currently, there are a variety of ways to reach out with prayer to our loved ones completely online:
Time to Pray - The Church of England App 'Time to Pray' presents everything you need for prayer during the day, with variations according to the day of the week and the season of the Church’s year. You can use app on its own, as your sole act of prayer and praise, or you can use it alongside Night Prayer in a pattern of prayer at the beginning and end of the day. Time to Pray is free to use and available to download here.
Light a candle - By lighting a virtual candle, you're making space to pray. You can light a candle online to pray for yourself, for a loved one or for a situation on the Church of England website here.
Prayer Wall - St Edmundsbury Cathedral offers an online Prayer Wall where you can choose to light an online candle. Each day one of the Cathedral Clergy will pray these prayers. For details please visit here.
Supporting those who can't attend a funeral - if you are looking for resources to help those who can't attend a funeral do visit the Church of England Life Events page here. Offering videos, prayer cards and poems as well as online support and links to charities supporting the bereaved.
For further information
Schools bereavement support | Weblink
Lastwords.uk | Weblink
Suffolk Cruse | Weblink - Suffolk Cruse offers a Bereavement Care Line available on 01473 230888 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grave Tending by Jo | Weblink - Jo offers a bespoke service tending graves in Suffolk to those who may not be able to visit their loved one's grave themselves.