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.