Through our national network, Humanist Celebrants are to be found throughout the UK and, being part of an ever growing team, it’s a privilege to be able to conduct non-religious and personal ceremonies. My training was in-depth, and covered many different kinds of funerals, from burials to cremations and also the increasingly popular woodland or green funerals.
A ceremony is an occasion which may be formal, informal, solemn, spirited, conventional or otherwise. There is plenty of room for flexibility and, whatever the circumstances, the main thing is to provide what you ask for and that is what I’m here to do. Recently I have been asked to conduct some very unconventional ceremonies, all of which have been unique and at utterly different types of venues. Although exceptional in so many ways, it looks to me as if creative and non traditional ways of helping families through their grief will perhaps be more the ‘norm’ in times to come. Whether traditional or not, every situation is different and always interesting and rewarding too.
I was born and bought up in London within a traditional English family. Christened but not confirmed, my family was immersed in music, particularly through work, church choirs and school. Feeling atmospheres inside many beautiful churches in the City of London, even from an early age, I never felt comfortable reciting responses during a Service. The words bothered me and I felt uneasy saying things that I didn’t understand or that I just didn’t relate to.
As an adult, I was still unsure of where my convictions lay and so fell in with tradition when raising my children. We enjoyed the usual celebrations at Christmas and I was happy singing a good carol – but still wasn’t totally comfortable in a service and started to think much more about matters of belief and the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and equality. As well as this, thoughts on society’s influence over our personal codes of conduct, perceptions and consequent actions started to develop.
Decades later, I have arrived at a point where I simply believe in ‘Now’. What is important to me is being sensitive and caring to others, having respect for different views, and being a good listener. This last attribute is an essential aspect of a celebrant’s work. Tributes are usually within the central part of any funeral – they’re informative, and paint pictures that family and friends will recognise and appreciate. It’s a challenge to convert a long and often emotional conversation into appropriate words and, at family meetings, there is often plenty of participation. Each person is encouraged to contribute their own thoughts and together we build the best possible ceremony. On other occasions, where families feel less able to create the framework, I support them with appropriate suggestions. I am very open to your ideas on ceremony content and this means that if you remember special music, a hymn or something similar from other times that you might like to include, that’s just fine.
Please contact me either by email or phone. If I’m unable to answer do leave me a message and I’ll call you back.
What a great pleasure it was to meet you yesterday. I’ve been busy forwarding your attachment to all who knew and loved K!!!! It was really kind of you to send it to me. I had a beautiful evening at N’s house with the family. It was so nice and rounded off what had, in spite of the sadness, been a lovely day. You had a great deal to do with that. I told my few friends on Facebook what a lovely ceremony it had been, and the response has been a delight. I know I want a humanist ceremony when I go! P June 2017
I just wanted to write and say thank you for the lovely service that you conducted, in Aldershot on Wednesday, for my good friend L. You conducted things in such a lovely, quiet, calm and peaceful manner whilst interacting with the family and friends in a very human and caring manner. Thank you so much!. It gave me much to think about, going forward, and certainly helped me to get through a difficult day. D June 2017
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The Sustainability Centre has its natural burial ground near Petersfield in the Meon Valley.
Funeral Advisor is published by the Natural Death Centre and is useful in helping to find the right Funeral Director for you.