Dear beloved,

In the weeks and months following the death of someone we have loved there are many different emotions that we can experience. Shock and disbelief can give way to sadness, anger, guilt or a strange kind of numbness which seems to make everything more difficult to face. Above all, there can be a real sense of loss and a desire to have something tangible to remember our loved one by.

After losing a loved one it can be challenging to comprehend the meaning and consequences of burial in a churchyard which is on consecrated ground. The nature of the rite of burial is to say 'farewell' to the deceased and to commend them to the mercy and love of God in Christ and to await the transformation of resurrection. This brings a theological finality to a burial, including those of cremated remains, into ground that is consecrated, and that upholds the rites of the Church of England.

Each person and family are unique, but there will come a time when the question of whether or not to erect a memorial or gravestone can arise. If there is already a stone marking a family grave then it may be a matter of adding a name to the existing inscription, but often it is a question of a new stone being erected. Memorial stones are expensive, and so it is important that whatever memorial is chosen is right for everyone concerned.

As in all churchyards in the Diocese of Leeds, there are regulations at Kirkburton Church about what kind of memorial stone might be appropriate. These regulations cover the size and shape of the stone, the material from which it is made, and the inscription. These regulations have been drawn up so as to make sure that whatever monuments are placed in a churchyard take account of certain important considerations of Kirkburton Church.

A churchyard, unlike a cemetery, is not only a place for burials. It is primarily the area around a Church which is a living place of worship, daily for some, weekly for others. A churchyard is thus concerned equally with the living as with the dead.

A churchyard is also a public place, and all that is erected in it must show sensitivity as to its context and to its neighbourhood. Beauty, harmony, grace and tranquility are important attributes of a churchyard.

The care of the churchyard embraces many of the factors which most closely touch our present generation… a concern for conservation, both of wildlife and of our artistic and architectural heritage; a concern for visual values and for good design; a need for solitude and quietness; and a desire for visual presentation of the interdependent mysteries of life and death.

Although local monumental masons may be generally aware of the regulations, and will be able to give advice about which stones are appropriate, it is vital that you and they submit a full description and application for a headstone and of the memorial to the church authorities BEFORE any work is begun. In this way possible disappointment or needless expense may be avoided.

Thank you,

May God show you his love, now and always,

Reverend Amanda Grant.
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