A 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.
As far back into history as we can penetrate, human beings seem to have felt the need for a ceremonial leave-taking of those who have died.
A funeral service in the Church of England - whether in a parish church or a crematorium chapel - may be very short and quiet with only a few members of the family present, or an occasion of great solemnity with music, hymns and a packed church. A funeral may also be set within a celebration of Holy Communion.
Whatever the pattern of service, the words and actions all speak of a loving God and the preciousness to him of every human being.