Death is inevitable, it’s a natural part of the human life cycle and there is no escaping it. We come into this world, we are born into a loving family, we grow, we learn, we experience and we age. Life and death work together, they go hand in hand, one does not happen without the other, so it’s a natural expectation that life will cease, and death will be the outcome, it is the reality that all of us will face, and still, we are often unprepared for it.
When loved ones die, we can be overwhelmed with emotions that rise up from the stomach and target our heart where we feel the intensity of loss, sadness, and grief. Death can happen at any age and the circumstances can sometimes be difficult to come to terms with. A funeral ceremony is an important part of the death transition, not just for the love one now passed, but also for the family and friends still living. Grief is a natural response to the loss of someone you love and it’s a tough strong emotion. Life changes when a loved one dies, it’s like riding a tidal wave that feels like it could go on forever, except it doesn’t, grief is not a forever emotion. Changes are imminent and adapting to those changes is what everyone faces when loved ones die, and yes, life will be different.
As an Independent Funeral Celebrant, I work with you and alongside your chosen Funeral Director to create a ceremony that is meaningful, authentic, sincere and uplifting. Every ceremony is an individual and personal one that is specifically created for the person who has died, it is designed to reflect on how they lived their life whilst incorporating the memories of family and friends. I personally spend quite a lot of time with you, ideally in the home of where the deceased lived or in your home to find out as much as I possibly can about their life. We will talk about their wishes, their requests (if any) as well as those of family and friends, I will encourage the sharing of memories and life stories which will ultimately be the foundation of the funeral ceremony. I will coordinate contributions from those that I spend time with and I will go over the entire ceremony with you in advance, so you will know what will happen on the day and I will be there to support those that wish to speak and say a few words on the day. My time is YOUR time, and as your Celebrant, I will research, write, present and lead the ceremony from start to finish. Your Funeral Director will, of course, take care of other aspects as required.
Funerals and Memorial Services
The way I anticipate doing funerals and memorial ceremonies is an approach based on authenticity and full of creativity. The traditional somber type of funeral is not how I work, nor is it the way I envision formalising a final send-off for a loved one. I prefer to skip the church or the funeral home altogether, purely because I want your loved ones’ life’s story’ to be told in an authentic way. I want their ceremony to be about them and held in a place that means something to them. I want to involve family and friends so they can come together to give a final goodbye that they feel very much a part of.
Everyone holds close to their hearts stories about what they did and what they remember with the dearly departed, so why not share that memory. After all, they lived, they laughed, they cried, they celebrated and they even endured all kinds of situations on life’s journey and most of all they made some kind of impact.
Funerals and memorials can be held just about anywhere with a few guidelines. Memorials are generally ceremonies for memorialising someone who has died that generally takes place after the body has been buried or cremated, be it a few days, weeks or even years. However some memorials are held for other reasons such as tragic accidents whereby the body of the person now passed cannot be found, for missing persons, for death at sea or air and even for roadside shrines.
Below is a list of ideas that can be used as the foundation for either a funeral or memorial ceremony.
- Your House or garden
- The beach
- Onboard a boat
- Boat Harbour
- Local golf course
- Community center
- Sports oval
- Bush setting
- Steam train
- Favourite pub
- With a sunset or sunrise
Think about hosting a dinner party, a breakfast or lunch complete with your loved one’s favourite foods or have all the attendees wear a particular colour, come dressed in a style from some other era. The funeral cortege can also be led by someone in costume because the deceased loved one adored Star Wars. A convoy of vehicle types that mean something to your loved one is also an option. Coffins can also be hand decorated by family members or you can have the choice of no coffin at all, instead, a shroud can be a beautiful option. The possibilities really are endless.
By now you can no doubt see where I am going with this and obviously this not for everyone and that’s OK. My visions as a Celebrant for this concept is not new, in fact, many countries around the world have been offering these services for many years. Eulogies are not necessary if you don’t want them, instead, you can just open some space up for anyone to come forward to tell a story and share their memories.
So if you’re seeking a personal approach that takes ones thinking outside of the box for planning and creating, then I am the Celebrant for you. I’ll involve those that are willing to share the memories, I’ll hold sacred space for the loved one now passed and I’ll even help with creating the story. My approach is an informal kind of format that provides time for sharing that has been planned prior to the ceremony. The reason for doing this way is because grief is overwhelming and can often lead to people talking more about themselves not the deceased. When a ceremony is planned it flows, thus creating a beautiful atmosphere that everyone can share.
What I am proposing here is for families to really give their loved one a final send off that represents the life they lived filled with the memories of everything that made them who they are. In doing so, you become a part of their final goodbye, not just be there in attendance, it’s personalising the ceremony and putting the rich back into rituals because it’s about showing people possibilities they never knew about. Honouring and even celebrating life are as real as the person who lived and their life is important.
I will do the best of my abilities by the person now deceased by sharing the story of their life the way they lived it and I will work closely with the family to provide them with lasting memories of their final goodbye. I’ll advocate for you and work with Funeral Services and Funeral Directors of your choosing. Together we’ll create a ceremony that reflects the life of your loved one.
Celebrating The Life Of A Loved One – Before Death With A Living Funeral
Time is not on your side, in fact, your physical living life has a limited clock and it’s ticking away. Welcome to the stage, my friend, you are the honoree because this is your life. This is your grandest moment, it’s your celebration and you’re about to share it with family and friends. You’re still here, you’re alive and you’re about to be a witness to your very own final goodbye, yes that’s correct, this is your living funeral.
Family and friends have come together to share their eulogies, their stories, their memories and all the meaningful words with the full power of their heartfelt feelings of whom you have been in their lives, they’re about to bid you farewell and you’re physically going to hear all of it. Plus as the honoree, you too will also share your own heartfelt words and memories with them. This is about people coming together to fill you with love and wishes for a beautiful journey onwards. It’s an incredible opportunity to truly celebrate one’s life before physical death, and it gives everyone the chance to express love, gratitude and all those things that people often wish they could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve said if only they found the right time before the person died. Now that’s a privileged send-off!
A living funeral means no words are left unsaid nor are there any feelings left unexpressed, it’s a beautiful tribute to a life that lived, one that played a part in everyone’s world. It’s a life that existed and a life that made an impact. When the life clock stops ticking, it means that everyone was given the chance to unite and to celebrate the life of a person they loved, doing it this way is a remarkable gift that leaves an extraordinary memory with those still living. Tears will still flow, hearts will still feel the loss and sadness will still be expressed. The difference is that the loved one now passed leaves the physical world knowing how truly loved, appreciated, adored and cherished they were. It’s also a time when many of life’s’ ups and downs can be can be expressed and let go with a ritual that closes this chapter, it’s being able to move forward with love. All of this does make a difference in the way a person transitions from the physical life to the spiritual world.
When it comes to death & dying, I will assist you, your family and your friends to come together and to join hearts and minds for a celebration of life – your life. A time to open hearts and allow space for a rather powerful ceremony filled with love, it’s not just a goodbye, it’s a transition from one life to another.