What happens at a Church of England funeral?

Going to a funeral is not easy, especially for the first time. Whether you are worried about practical things or want to know what it’s for, this page will help to answer your questions.

A Church of England funeral might be in a church, a cemetery, a crematorium or a green burial ground. Wherever it takes place, there are some things that will always happen. There will always be a time to give thanks for the person you are remembering, there will a space to think and reflect, and the person will be trusted into God’s care.

There may also be hymns, music and other readings.

Sometimes the family ask for people to wear certain colours or bring certain things, but if there hasn’t been any advice, it’s still usual to wear smarter clothes in subdued colours.

Make sure you arrive in good time and follow the directions about when to go in to either the church or the crematorium chapel. The minister leading the service will tell you when to sit and to stand. It’s usual to stand as the coffin is brought in, to stand for hymns, and for the ending of the service.

People often cry at a funeral, so make sure you have some tissues with you. Even the most celebratory funerals feel sad, because someone we knew and loved is not with us anymore. It might also be that going to the funeral makes you think about others who you have loved but see no longer. It might also make you think about some of life’s big questions.

Further information

  • After a funeral

    Immediately after a funeral you’ll be with your family and friends. But as the days and weeks go by, the church will also be there for you. Your church can support you in lots of ways, even if the funeral did not take place where you live. Explore the links for ways we can help.

  • How can I decide on a Bible reading for a funeral?

    There are many Bible passages that offer a message of hope and comfort through difficult times. Your minister will help you choose, but visit this page for links to some popular choices.

  • Is it alright to take a child to a funeral?

    Children are welcome to funerals if they would like to go. Visit this page for some additional advice about taking children to funerals.