Funerals and memorials
We offer bereavement support to students and staff from Imperial, RCA and RCM. This includes space to talk when bereaved, hosting a reflection for a group of colleagues or student cohort, as well as advice on practical issues as well as arranging and leading memorials and funerals. You can email us for more details.
Talking about loss
During the pandemic many of us are having to face the deaths of people we knew and loved. Some of us are far away from the people we love when they are sick or dying. We might not be able to say good bye in the ways we would wish. The isolation also places limitations on attending the funerals of family, friends and colleagues or physically accompanying others who share our grief. These situations can add to the strong emotions we feel when someone close to us dies. We may feel sadness and anger. We may also feel confused, lost, or uncertain about our future.
We all deal with loss and grief in our own way. Mourning is also a shared experience. If there were familiar routines, places and rituals for when someone dies in our family these might no longer be available to us. We might need to find new ways to mourn individually and with others. The experience of loss can itself be traumatic, particularly if a death is unexpected, disturbing and/or if we feel we haven’t had the chance to say goodbye in person or virtually.
If you are planning a funeral for someone you love.
Before a funeral there are usually meetings with the Funeral Director and the person leading the service. It is now likely that these will happen via video link or telephone. To prepare for these conversations you might like to talk with family and friends about your shared and personal memories of the person, how you would like to remember them and what you would like to have said about them at the service. Some people like to write a short biography of the person, and add photographs. This could be used in the service and shared with those who are unable to attend.
If you are unable to attend a funeral.
Before the pandemic when people were unable to attend a funeral, they often found ways to keep a special time when the funeral was taking place. It could be sitting quietly, or listening to music with special memories, reading a poem or saying prayers. If you cannot attend a funeral, think about what do you need to do for yourself to mark the time, and what would be fitting for the person you are saying goodbye to? How will you remember them, and what do you treasure most about what you shared? And then organise to make space for that, taking the time you need and communicating it to others, so that you feel comfortable taking that time and space.
Memorials usually happen sometime after a funeral. It maybe that you would like to hold a memorial to remember and give thanks for someone you know who has died. This might be especially important at these times of separation. We do not know at present when this will be possible. But you can have some initial conversations with the Chaplaincy team now if you would find that helpful.
A memorial reminds us that grieving is a long process that has different dimensions and stages over the months and years. Many cultures and traditions have a range of grief rituals at the point when someone dies, before and after the funeral, or at periods of a month, forty days, several months and the anniversary of death. You can take part in those paths or create your own ones, based on the special dates or time periods that you feel appropriate.
We have experience of working with students and staff to prepare memorial services and events for peers and colleagues. In our international academic community, we have found ways in which different religious and secular beliefs can be acknowledged when we gather together to remember and give thanks for someone we have known and loved who has died.
Our annual events to remember those who have died.
We will use our annual events to remember those who have died during the pandemic.
As a Chaplaincy team each year we rememberthe people whose funerals and memorials we have taken. We use the period in early November (Around All Souls Day/ The Day of the Dead) to remember by name people from the Imperial, RCA and RCM communities whose memorials or funerals were taken by chaplains over the last twenty years.
This happens in both a non-religious meditation-led event and in the service of College Evensong with the Imperial Chamber Choir in Holy Trinity Church, next to Beit Quad.
At our Carol Service in December we remember in the prayer sstudents and staff from Imperial, RCA and RCM who have died in the past year.
If you would like us to remember someone by name at these events, either from the Imperial. RCA or RCM communities, or known to you (if you are part of these communities) then please email us.
Resources and Links
If you are struggling or your bereavement feels more difficult to manage due to mental health issues, please contact Imperial College Counselling and Mental Health Services for students or the staff well being pages.
Cruse Bereavement Care; dealing with bereavement and grief
Coronavirus Pandemic Bereavement
The Good Grief Trust - Coronavirus Bereavement Advice
Keeping in touch when you can’t be with someone who is so ill that they might die