The heartbreak of loss, and The Great Certainty

The following is a message from local chaplain, Fr. Marcus, who many of you may know. This is a subject that we tend to avoid, but you might find the information helpful, Andrew

In my first parish, St Mary’s Eastbourne, my Training Vicar, Fr Cyril Bess, was a very large and lovely man. Full of wisdom, joy, humour and common sense. He taught me a great deal, often by letting me make the mistakes that he saw coming, and then guiding me through the confusion I had made for myself.

However he had this ‘interesting’ habit of always preaching about death and dying whenever he returned from holiday. He used to say, people want to hear about the glorious views of fishing boats bobbing about on the sea in Cornwall, but I want to talk to them about being ‘Glory bound’, and the wonder of heaven, and to remind them they are going to die before they get there!’

Well, sadly we need to talk about this now, and one reason is that I heard a story just a few days ago about a family not too far from here, who were not able to find an English Speaking priest / vicar / minister to conduct the funeral of their loved one. Sadly they didn’t understand enough Spanish for the service to mean anything for them, and they felt so unsure as to what had been included. They felt both lost, and had no sense of closure.

Of course there have been huge issues for folk dealing with loss due to Covid. The restrictions have meant that in some cases there was no funeral, at others, only 3 people being allowed to be present, so they chose to have no minister. On so many occasions family members from the UK have not been able to come, and of course so many missed the comfort that comes from hugging those who are there. It has been so tough for so many, and my heart goes out to all who have suffered in this way.

So maybe this is a good time to remind you of some of the options, and please feel free to share this far and wide. The following points are in no particular order.

If at all possible, take someone with you when you go to make plans for the funeral, or have someone if the funeral director comes to your house. You may feel under pressure to make decisions, and please be assured, you can take time, and get things right.
Most Tanatoria staff, and Funeral Plan advisors are brilliant, but if they don’t ask you the right questions, you may end up with something different from your ideal.

There is a tradition here that funerals happen very quickly. I have had calls from the Tanatoria to take a service later that day! Please try not to be bamboozled, you can certainly say you want more time, even if it may cost you a little more. Most funerals are planed for sometime in the next few days.

There are a range of people available to take the service, ranging from Humanist, Funeral Celebrants, Just having a friend to lead it, and a variety of Religious Ministers.
I can only speak with confidence about what we in the Anglican Chaplaincy can offer. I can assure you that we would do our best to make the service as personal, fitting and meaningful to you as possible. So let me lead you through how it works.

We are asked to take the service by the Tanatoria / Crematoria, rather than you asking us directly. (One of the things this means is that when we speak we do not have to deal with talking about fees and such like)
So, they will contact us if you say you would like an Anglican, or Church of England Minister or Priest. Don’t assume it would be us just because you said that you would like it in English.
We have a range clergy up and down the Costa Blanca and normally we would use the person nearest you. But if you know one of us, and would like that person, it is best to mention that when you are making plans. Our current staff members are Fr Marcus Ronchetti, Fr Jim Booker, Fr Rodney Middleton, Fr Robin Pettitt, Fr Paul David Dean, Stephen Carden (lay Reader). We also have some retired clergy who are here some parts of the year. So between us, we can cover every request, but if you want Fr X, then please ask for him if possible. If you want me, just ask for the good looking one!

Once we have been asked, one of us will contact you and arrange to come and see you, and we will talk everything through.
We will talk about your loved one, and get a clear picture of who they were, and what they were like. Don’t worry, they don’t have to have been particularly religious, or C of E. Most services we take are for people we have never met, and yet after we have spent time with you, it will seem as if we know them.

We will decide if we are going to give the eulogy, speak about the deceased, or you, or someone else will speak. It may well be more than one person. We often do this, as we are used to it, but by all means anyone can speak.

We will talk through the service, and agree what it should contain. Please feel free to say you don’t want it too churchy, or you would love such and such a poem / prayer / reading etc. We will make it perfect and personal for you.

We will get the balance right between honouring your grief, and celebrating the life of your loved one. We will also acknowledge the great mixture of emotions that everyone is going through, and most of all, we will listen to what you have to say. Some people talk about a Funeral Service, others  a Celebration of the life of……We will make it fit.

We will talk about music. Let me say that you can have whatever you want.
Most people have some music played on the way in, and on the way out. Anything from something classical, something stirring, beautiful or gentle, or great Rock ballads right through to ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ by Monty python. The choice really is yours, and is limitless.
You may want hymns as well, and we can provide for those, and produce either hymn books, or a service sheet with the hymn(s) printed on. We can provide music.  But don’t feel you have to have hymns. Some people choose to listen to a piece of music during the service, for example after the Eulogy, and just spend time reflecting.
If you want to provide your own music, CDs or downloading on to a stick are easiest. But we can do that for you.

We will make sure the service reflects the personality of your loved one, and we will guide you right the way through the process.

There is something very comforting having a professional leading the service who has the authority to Commend and entrust your loved one to God, and someone who understands where you are coming from. Also who can conclude, again with authority as they say ‘Go forth upon your journey from this world O Christian Soul…..

Please remember that we are happy to conduct the service in English for anyone who would like one. Our congregations are made up from folk from a huge variety of denominations, we happen to be C of E, but of course we happily engage with anyone who would like our services, and we make the service just right for you.

If there has been an occasion where you have not been able to have the funeral you wanted, for whatever reason we can hold a Remembrance Service, at a time and place of your choosing. This way, all your family and friends can be there to remember your loved one, and to Celebrate their life.

If you are thinking about a Funeral Plan, and they can be a great idea, then remember to include that you would like a Religious Minister if you would like one, and be specific if you want to.

To save your nearest and dearest extra heartache when they are grieving, it may be worth putting together your own ideas of what you would like at your funeral. This is not morbid, it is caring and helpful. You may include choices of music, hymns if you want them, readings or poems – even dress code for guests. Tell your family that you have done it, or even talk with them about it.

Just so that you know, the fees we charge are in line with that in the UK. €220.
(One of our new clergymen recently went and introduced himself to the Tanatoria, offering his services, and giving his contact details. They happily took them, and asked what his fees were. He said what do other people charge, and was told €400! But to be fair, there are others who will do it cheaper)

We have seven churches along the Costa Blanca, and I every one has members who have joined because they were so pleased with the service taken by one of our ministers.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Bless you, Bless you, Bless you,

As ever,

Fr Marcus

695 874 166   603 259 769

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