A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa

Funeral Liturgies
Services in the
Time of Death

Concerning these Services

Of all human events, death concerns us the most deeply. When death approaches, whether it be our own or that of someone close to us, it immediately becomes our principal and overriding concern. When people die, their family and friends suffer loss, shock and grief. Grief is like a wound which requires time and care if it is to heal. Nevertheless, God's love continues through our loss and in our grieving. These services aim to strengthen our assurance of this.

On the one hand, Christians know that Christ has triumphed over death, and that therefore we need no longer fear it. The last event in our lives leads on to something richer. On the other hand, when we have loved deeply and received love, especially when this love has been lasting, the grief and pain suffered is extreme. The loved person will not be encountered again in this life. The future seems uncertain and forbidding. It can be almost impossible for the sufferer to accept the loss.

As death approaches, the person and immediate family require regular, loving support. At the time of and immediately after death the need for care is critical. People need to be strengthened by prayers at the time of death and their grieving before the funeral, whether prayer is offered at home, in church, or on the marae.

In these funeral services there is comfort for the mourners, the commendation to God of the person who has died, and the committal of the body for burial or cremation. After the funeral, there is provision in the home for beginning a new life; committal of ashes after a cremation; and prayers at the anniversary or the unveiling of a memorial.

The services in this book contain many options. There are also additional prayers, sentences and readings. The circumstances in which death occurs vary greatly, and material selected should reflect the particular needs. It is imperative therefore that the minister shall always prepare carefully, and use selections appropriate to the occasion.

Jesus said,
‘Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.’