Care of the Dying and Catholic Funerals

Our simplest and most practical piece of advice to you is that when you know someone you care for is dying call Fr Basil on 0131 665 2137. In danger of death, he will come out immediately and administer the ‘Last Rites’. Every Catholic, no matter how long it has been since they have had contact with the Church has the right to receive the assurance of God’s mercy and love.

Equally if the person you care for has died then they too (again no matter what their relationship to the Catholic Church) has the right to a Catholic funeral where they will be prayed for and God’s love and mercy sought. When in doubt call the priest.

If in the first instance you have contacted a Funeral Director, they will get in contact and give your details and then contact will be made.

Approaching Death

Once a person (or their family) know they are dying then they should call for a priest. While it can be hard to face the fact of approaching death, nevertheless it is not a kindness to be left in the dark. God, through his Church, offers a means of approaching death: The Last Rites or Last Sacraments.

The last sacraments are God reiterating his promises to us:

  • Anointing assures us of healing and forgiveness.
  • Reconciliation allows us to know peace.
  • Communion feeds us for the journey.

Clearly for these to offer the most they can, then it is better that they are not a last minute thing. However even at the last, the sacrament of the ‘final anointing’ assures the soul of God’s mercy.

Even if none of these actions have taken place then a Catholic funeral is available. Again once the person has died call the priest.

When a loved one dies

After death (and even where the person has been estranged from the Church for many years) the Church offers various funeral services. Now a thing to note is that a Catholic funeral service is first and foremost offered for the person who has died – they are the focus of our thoughts and prayers. Secondly, this is always done in the context of worship, it is to God that we are commending those who have died, we are seeking to place them at the foot of Jesus’ cross that they may be forgiven and at the door of his empty tomb that they might rise with him. In a Catholic Funeral Good Friday and Easter Sunday come together for the person who has died.


Catholic Funerals are most normally Funeral Masses held in Church. These may be preceded by a Vigil Service the night before the Mass. The Mass is then followed by a short graveside service or cremation.

A simpler Funeral Service can be held in Church, a funeral parlour, at the graveside or in a crematorium. When a service is held in Church or funeral parlour a short grave side or cremation service is then held afterwards.

After a cremation service ashes may be buried or scattered.


Music at a Catholic funeral should be appropriate to worship, especially so if the service is in the church. Some simple rules apply.

During a Funeral Mass or during a Funeral Service in church only sacred music is permitted, however before or after the funeral, appropriate personal music may be played.

During a service in the funeral parlour or crematorium there is more flexibility but again music chosen should be appropriate to prayer and Christian worship. Again however as the family gather personal music can help bring the person to mind and so that may be the best time for this.


Again during Mass or a Service in church these need to be from the Bible. Help will be given in selecting these, family members can read or the church will provide readers.

Other readings such as poems can be read near the end of the funeral.


A short eulogy may be given, by a family member, at the start of the funeral. Alternatively, a text can be given to the priest to read on behalf of the family or again information can be given to the priest to include in his reflection after the readings.

Charity Collections

Such collections are allowed but they must be arranged with the Funeral Director and the Parish Priest must be notified as to what charity the collection is for.


It is difficult to fix a fee for use of the Church. We recommend a total of £150.00 payable through the Funeral Director this covers all costs associated with the service.

We are here to help and support, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or simply wish further information.