Finding a loved one’s religious clergy

4 min read

Locating your loved one’s religious community and leader

  • If you know what house of worship they attended, get in touch with that institution as soon as possible.

  • Try contacting houses of worship from their religion in their area; they can help you in your search.

  • Funeral homes can help you find a leader from the right religion for the service.

  • A clergyperson can provide practical and spiritual guidance, and generally serve as a source of support and comfort.

Many people find that after they lose a loved one, spirituality and religion can ease some of their pain. Rituals and rites, as well as belief in a soul or an afterlife, can provide comfort both for the person passing away in their final moments and for the mourners that they leave behind. Whether these were your own beliefs or those of your loved one, you may discover that they help you get through this difficult time. And organized religion often also provides community that a person in grief can turn to for solace, understanding, and support. 

If your loved one was a member of such a community, therefore, finding their clergyperson is an important step in making sure they have the religious ceremony they would have wanted. This religious leader can offer guidance, as well as a shoulder you can lean on if you need spiritual or emotional support.

However, not everyone may know what parish, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship their loved one belonged to, or who they went to for religious guidance. If you do a bit of searching, it shouldn’t be very hard to find the right one.

Locating and contacting your loved one’s religious leader

If you already know which house of worship the person attended, then get in touch with them as soon as possible to tell them of your loved one’s passing. Even if you only talk to office staff, they will want to know so that they can inform their community.

They will likely offer you immediate guidance as to how to contact the right clergyperson, along with other useful information like any funeral home they often work with, or they will put you in touch with a member of the community who can help you with all of these details.

If you don’t know the exact place they attended services, begin contacting their faith’s local houses of worship. If your loved one was Catholic and regularly attended mass, start with the largest Catholic church in the area where they lived. If they were Muslim, get in touch with the closest mosque. Even if they do not know your loved one, they will often be helpful in figuring out who else you should contact. The search may take some trial and error, but it will be worth it when you find the right community to mourn and honor your loved one with.

If you’re ultimately unable to locate the exact place of worship they attended, then it’s best to find a religious leader of your loved one’s faith and let them help. Most funeral homes have clergy they work with, and they can help you find an appropriate person to perform the funeral or any other religious ceremonies.

Funeral homes can also take the reins, if you wish, and make all the arrangements with the officiant and schedule when the funeral will take place, whether at their house of worship or at the funeral home. It’s also worth noting that funeral directors can perform all the same duties as clergy when it comes to funerals. There are also online directories that can help you find an officiant if your funeral director is unable to help. 

 Benefits of involving a clergyperson

Whether someone has been religious their whole life or turned to religion later on, their faith is often a source of comfort and joy. Belief in something higher than ourselves can help give life meaning and make sense of things that often feel senseless. While every religion is unique, all faiths offer their believers hope, redemption, and peace, especially when someone has died.

A religious leader can console with scriptures or readings, guide you through the mourning traditions of their faith, and be a source of strength to help you find closure.

Having a clergyperson involved in the process of saying goodbye to your loved one, even if it’s not the specific religious leader the person knew in life, can offer you a space in which to grieve. They can console with scriptures or readings, guide you through the mourning traditions of their faith, and be a source of strength so you and everyone who loved the person can feel a sense of closure. A clergyperson can also help relieve concerns about what happens now that your loved one is gone.

While not everyone in your circle will necessarily need support from a religious leader, having one involved in the funeral can be beneficial for those who need guidance and consolation. It will also ease your mind to know that you gave your loved one the sendoff they would have wanted. Honoring their religious beliefs after they’ve passed away is one of the most respectful and important things you can do.

You may be eligible for free bereavement support. Empathy can help with everything from funeral planning to estate administration, with step-by-step guidance and real-time expert support. Many people get free premium access to Empathy as a benefit with their life insurance claim. We partner with New York Life, Guardian Life Insurance Company, Bestow, Lemonade, and other leading carriers. When you make your life insurance claim, talk to your representative about whether Empathy is a benefit they offer.