Life Events > Funerals

Bereavement, Loss & Funerals

From the moment you get in touch with us, throughout the funeral service, and for as long as you need us afterwards, we’re here for you!

Experiencing the death of a loved one, whether they are a parent, sibling, life partner or precious child, is probably one of the most difficult and emotional times in anyone’s life. It is therefore really important to be able to say our goodbyes well and to know that we are supported by those around us who care. 

A Church of Ireland funeral marks the close of a human life on earth. It is the opportunity for friends and family to express their grief, to give thanks for the life which has now completed its journey in this world and to commend the person into God’s keeping.

“Grant to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience, not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of thy great goodness in past years, and in the sure expectation of a joyful reunion in the heavenly places; and this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer).

Here at St Patrick’s & St John’s, our Rector, Canon Mark Taylor will help you to prepare for the funeral service itself, as well as providing pastoral care as you continue to grieve. We also hold a Memorial Service once a year at which we continue to remember those who have died.

If you are looking to arrange a funeral at St Patrick’s Church in Whitehead, or St John’s Church in Islandmagee, or if you prefer, at the Belfast Crematorium Chapel, this will normally be arranged through your Funeral Director, who will guide you through the various stages of organising a funeral. 

Arranging a Funeral

When someone dies, there’s so much to think about and so much to organise. We understand how difficult this can be, but we can help you say your final goodbye in a way that really helps.

If you would like help or advice from the church, just contact Canon Mark Taylor on Tel: 028 9337 3300. Mobile: 077 1961 9286 or email: and he will be happy to advise and help you with arrangements for the Funeral Service.

Refreshments following the Funeral?

If you wish to hold a reception with refreshments in the adjoining Parochial Hall at St Patrick’s Church, Whitehead, following the Funeral Service, please mention this to Canon Mark Taylor as above, for further details.

First steps in arranging a funeral

After the initial news of the death of someone you know and love, there are some important things that need to be done. These are two of the more immediate things:

Register the Death

Click on the link for helpful guidance regarding this:

Meet a Funeral Director

If you’re not yet sure which one to use, you can find one near to you on the Funeral Directory website or check out the local Funeral Directors listed below.

The Funeral Director will talk to you about what kind of funeral you would like.

One of the first questions they’ll ask is whether you’d like a burial or a cremation. You might like to discuss this with other family members if you’re not sure what the preference was of the person who died.

You’ll then be asked where you would like the funeral service to be held.

Does a funeral always take place in a Church?

Church of Ireland ministers can conduct funerals in four different venues:

  • A church – normally at the church building where they are based i.e., in Whitehead or Islandmagee.
  • At Belfast Crematorium Chapel.
  • A municipal or private cemetery – this might be in the cemetery chapel or just at the graveside.
  • A natural burial ground – the service here could be in the chapel or meeting room of the ground, or at the graveside.

The Funeral Director will ask about various other important details, including:

  • Whether the funeral should be civil, humanist or religious. Remember you don’t have to be religious or a churchgoer to have a Church of Ireland funeral – it is open to all.
  • Is there a particular minister or celebrant you have in mind to conduct the funeral service?
  • Whether you would like flowers or to request family and friends to donate to the church or a charity in lieu of buying flowers in memory of the deceased.
  • They might ask whether you have any thoughts on music or other special ideas to reflect the life of the person who has died.
  • Whoever you ask to lead the funeral service will also talk to you about this and will ask you if the deceased left any instructions concerning their funeral wishes or arrangements.

If you choose to have a funeral at St Patrick’s or St John’s Church, our Rector, Mark Taylor will arrange to visit you to listen to the story of the person you knew and will go through all the details in advance of the funeral service itself. Contact details for Canon Taylor are shown above under the heading ‘Arranging a Funeral’

We are here to offer ‘Hope’ as well as support!

The message at all our Church funeral services is one of ‘hope’!  We know there will be feelings of grief and sadness because someone you know and love has died, but we hold on to Christ’s message of hope, that there is life after death.

When someone dies, although we can’t see the person we love anymore, Christians believe that through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will see that person again. It might be in a very different form, in a very different way, but that is the Christian hope, and that is the message everyone will hear when they come to a Church of Ireland funeral.

Christians believe that when we die, God promises that we will be with him in a wonderful place where death and pain are gone forever. Whatever the circumstances of death, these words of hope are a great comfort to those who attend a funeral. 

Ongoing support after the funeral is over

Immediately after a funeral, you’ll probably be surrounded by your family and friends. But as the days and weeks go by, our church will also be there for you. We can support you in lots of ways, even if the funeral did not take place here in the Parish of Whitehead & Islandmagee. 

If you are feeling lonely, or sad and looking for someone to talk to, call our Pastoral Care Helpline on 077 0776 8058 or email  At St Patrick’s & St John’s Church, we have a trained and experienced Pastoral Care Team who are here to offer support when you most need it. 

Whether the funeral has happened recently or many years ago, discover the many ways in which we can be there as a church community to help and support you.

Memorial Services

Sadly, during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, attendances at funeral services have had to be greatly restricted, which has caused great sadness and distress for many people affected by a personal bereavement, as well as to the wider circle of family and friends who have not been permitted to attend the funeral in person to say a proper farewell.

For some who have been bereaved during this particularly difficult time, the option of holding a Memorial Service at a later date when restrictions on meeting together are lifted, offers a positive way of bringing family and friends together to remember and celebrate the life of the deceased and to thank God for the life of that person.

A memorial service is about celebrating someone’s life, now ended. It is not the same as a funeral, as it takes place after the body has been buried or cremated, so there will be no body at the service (though cremated remains may be present).

A memorial service held in the Church of Ireland will usually include elements of a traditional service, such as music, flower, prayers, readings, eulogies and a sermon or reflection. Frequently a photograph of the person being remembered will be displayed prominently.

A memorial service held at a later date, is also of particular benefit when an individual, or family feel unable to face a large number of people so soon after the death of a loved one and simply desire a quiet funeral where they might grieve.

Because a memorial service occurs sometime after the day of the funeral and can be planned well in advance, there is often more room for creativity. This is because your family can take more time to plan a ceremony and decide how you want to pay tribute to the memory of your loved one.

If you would like help or advice from the church to organise a Memorial Service, contact Canon Mark Taylor on Tel: 028 9337 3300. Mobile: 077 1961 9286 or email and he will be happy to advise and help with arrangements.

Local Funeral Directors - Carrickfergus

McConnell’s Funeral Directors
14 Scotch Quarter Carrickfergus 
BT38 7DP
Tel 028 93 362321
Open 24 hours   

Mulhollands Funeral Directors
39-41 Irish Quarter South
Tel 028 9343 8502
Open 24 hours 

LYLES Funeral Directors
11, Market Place
Tel 028 9335 9425
Open 24 hours

Samuel Irvine Funeral Directors
31-35 Irish Quarter South
BT38 8BL
Tel 028 93351540

Local Funeral Directors - Larne

Mulhollands Funeral Directors
1 Exchange Rd
Larne BT40 1R
Tel 028 2889 8115
Open 24 hours

Fleming & Cuthbert Funeral Directors
102 Carrickfergus Rd
Larne BT40 3JX

141 Mill Road Ballyclare
BT39 9DZ
Tel 028 9334 4242

Michael McSparron Funeral Directors
The Cottage Funeral Home
49 Victoria Rd
Tel 028 2827 5255
Open 24 hours 

McConnell Funeral Services
1 Exchange Rd
BT40 1RX
Tel 028 2827 3333

E W Ramsey & Son Funeral Directors
5 Upper Main Street
BT40 1SY
Tel 028 2826 0189

Local Funeral Directors - Ballyclare

The Co-operative Funeralcare
2 Ballynure Rd
BT39 9AG
Tel 028 9335 2228
Available 24 hours on Tel 0808 239 9031