Celebrant-led funeral services
Whilst the majority of my celebrancy work to date has been for weddings, I have recently begun to focus my energy into funerals too. Working with families in their time of grief, and being able to help in some small way, is for me, the greatest privilege.
Giving families choice
In the same way that many couples are choosing to use a celebrant for their wedding day, to enable them to have exactly the service they want, many individuals are also requesting a celebrant-led service for their funeral.
Having the opportunity to celebrate the life of a loved one, and to come together with friends, family and colleagues in remembrance, is an incredibly important factor of the grief process, and a deeply personal experience. It’s only right that people can choose to mark this occasion in the way they feel best reflects the life of the one they loved.
Honouring a loved-one’s final wishes
Where individuals have been ill for some time, they will likely have thought about their funeral, and left guidance around their wishes. This can be very comforting for the immediate family, as they can be sure they are carrying out their duties just as their loved one would have wanted. Where death happens suddenly, the family will do the very best they can to honour the departed in the way they feel that person would have wished. What has struck me when I am working with families following the passing of a relative, is how very important it is for them that they feel they get this ‘right’. A final gift to their Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother, Grand-Parent, Son, Daughter, or whomever it is that has died.
Woodland burial, cremation and/or a Celebration of Life Event
Whether it be a burial, or a cremation, the coming together of people in sorrow to pay their respects is a tradition that has happened for thousands of years. Now, once again, as before, individuals and their families are beginning to have more say about how this happens. As an independent celebrant un-bound by particular viewpoints, I am able to incorporate whatever wishes one may have. Maybe the individual who died was religious but the family are not. It is my role to create a ceremony that can be respectful to both.
Many families are choosing to celebrate the life of their loved one. This may be as part of a cremation or burial service, or may involve holding a separate Celebration of Life following on from the service at the crematorium or burial ground. This may take place in a local village hall, a favourite pub/restaurant, or outside in a park or in the gardens of a family home. A Celebrant-led Celebration of Life event gives family and friends a chance to reflect on someone’s life, and to give thanks for all the happiness they have brought during their lifetime.
Any religion or none….what really makes a funeral special?
In the end though, whatever people’s religion, philosophy, or background, there are simple gestures that touch us all. A favoured poem or a piece of music. Time for quiet reflection. An observance of our true nature. An invitation to remember and give thanks. These modest elements take on great power in moments like this. The poignancy of silence. The strength of small words with heartfelt meaning.
Love. Sorrow. Grief. They touch us all.