Funeral Service after a Death by Suicide

The sudden, traumatic or violent death of someone is an enormous shock, especially if it is caused by someone committing suicide. The feelings that loved ones and friends have to suddenly confront are in addition to all the more normal and expected grief feelings that are experienced when someone dies from a more natural or expected cause.  There are so many ‘if onlys’ and ‘what ifs’ to deal with.  So many feelings of regret, and of wishing to turn the clock back, and of being unable to do something to prevent what has happened.  Feelings of anger and guilt are often present – either directed towards oneself, or directed at someone else, or the person who has committed suicide. Planning a funeral in this case is a particularly sensitive task and requires very careful thought.   

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE LITURGY

The Gathering

Everyone is given a candle and a drip shield as they arrive. 

Opening Responses        

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid? 

Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call;
have mercy upon me and answer me. 

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and he shall comfort your heart;
wait patiently for the Lord. 
The Lord is my light and my salvation. 

Bible Readings                  

Isaiah 43.1-4 Do not be afraid
Wisdom of Solomon 3.1-9 The souls of the righteous
Romans 8.31-35, 37-39 Nothing can separate us from the love of God
Philippians 4.5b-7 Do not be anxious
Revelation 21.1-5a He will wipe away all tears

Other Readings – see Readings and Reflections for Funerals    

Your pain is the breaking of the shell
from The Prophet Kahlil Gibran
 

From Revelation of Divine Love – daily readings with Julian of Norwich
Because of the tender love which our good Lord feels for all who shall be saved, he supports us willingly and sweetly, meaning this: ‘It is true that sin is the cause of all this suffering, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’ 

Prayers                                

For sunshine and rainbows,
for laughter and tears,
for treasured memories – good and difficult,
and for the gift of N and for all that N meant to us,
we thank you, good Lord.
Lord, have mercy.  

For the family of N and those who mourn,  
in this time, suspended and unreal,
in our raw emotions and muddled thoughts,
and in our listening and in our words,
be present, good Lord.
Lord, have mercy. 

In our searching to make sense of this,
in our regrets and for words unsaid,
in the blame and forgiveness we seek,
and in your compassion,
hear us, good Lord.
Lord, have mercy.                                      

That we may grow in understanding,
that we may trust in the love of God,
that we may believe that all shall be well,
and that we may, at the end, be reunited with the saints in heaven,
we pray to you, good Lord.
Lord, have mercy. 

A taper is lit from the paschal candle and then the candle flame is spread to all the people present until all the candles are lit – the people are then invited to keep a short time of silence when they can offer painful feelings and thoughts to God in the silence of their hearts.

Responses                         

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear? 

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and he shall comfort your heart;
wait patiently for the Lord. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Thanks be to God. 

Commendation and Farewell     

The candles remain lit during the Commendation and Farewell and are then extinguished – they can be taken home and lit at difficult times.

The Dismissal                    

May the light of Christ shine in our darkness,
may the love of Christ comfort and heal us,
may the hope of Christ fill us with courage now and in the difficult days ahead,
and may the blessing…

Hymns and Songs – see Hymns and Songs for Funerals

Recorded Music – see Hymns and Songs for Funerals

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