Funeral service held via Zoom video conferencing: “Our choice of a Humanist celebration was not difficult to make, but in circumstances of lockdown we weren’t sure about the idea of an online celebration to commemorate our father’s passing, and felt that it might be something that was second best to having a ceremony in person. It took us all – family and celebrant Hannah – into new territory.
If there was any apprehension, none showed as Hannah was quietly assured in offering her support to give life to our idea. She is warm, personable and empathetic. During the four preparatory Zoom sessions between us three brothers and her, she listened closely, carefully shaping the celebration of our late Dad’s life, in line with who he was and our wishes.
Hannah was accessible throughout our time together, receiving drafts of tributes, reading people’s memories for her background information, and updating the running order for the celebration. She was sensitive to cultural and political nuances, which comes from extensive knowledge as well as experience of supporting people through life events. Hannah researched pronunciations of names, places and expressions. She expertly selected key moments to include in her introduction. The understatement of the setting from which Hannah facilitated the celebration, her outfit, the expression and manner of delivery belied a very strong professionalism, never impersonal but utterly competent.
You brought such dignity to the celebration and you made it so much better. You held the audience gently and so well, and made them feel part of everything that was going on whether they spoke or not. Moreover, you did a simply amazing job of speaking to the audience through the tribute. Your cadence and emphasis matched the emotional tenor of the meeting and given the events spoken about may have been new to you, we think that was such an achievement!
A former colleague of our Dad’s late into their eighties taking part from her lounge in Rotherham said Hannah did extraordinarily well facilitating the online celebration. Another in Huddersfield said the celebration was the “next best thing” to a personal farewell. In Rochester, USA a niece said: “That service will stay with me for a really long time as it truly touched me profoundly.” From Belgium, a relative said: “Thank you so much for making it possible for me to attend the beautiful celebration of your Dad’s life”. A family friend in Johannesburg said: “It was a beautiful celebration”. From Cambridge: “a moving tribute”. His former senior medical officer: “… a perfect tribute and a privilege to attend.” Our Dad’s sister in law and brother in Cape Town: “warmest appreciation to you for the outstanding memorial tribute programme”.
At intense life moments like the birth of a child, one forms a strong bond with a stranger such as the midwife. So it was with Hannah, who perhaps subconsciously for us, helped us grieve by framing memories which have helped understand and accept our loss. We are going to miss her.
We are thankful to Hannah for making such a difference to the celebration of our Dad’s life.”
“On behalf of my wife and the rest of my family we were so taken with the very personal approach you took when conducting the ceremony for our much loved son last Thursday. Without exception everyone was saying how moving it was and how genuine you came across, especially when reading the tributes from family and friends.
Also, we appreciated the time you spent with us prior to the funeral in doing your preparation and I guess this is what makes your words so personal. You were so careful in preparing your individual script and emailing back our draft versions to make sure it was just right.
We appreciate so much receiving a copy of the service too, this will be a great comfort in the future as we miss R— so much, it will help to keep our memories of him alive.”
“Dear Hannah, on behalf of Dad’s family and friends I want to thank you for the lovely service you conducted for us. Everyone commented on the personal content and how appropriate the readings were. Your delivery and how you paced it was excellent and contributed to the send off we wanted for Dad.”
“Thank you so much Hannah. You were absolutely wonderful. You spoke with such clarity and feeling and with just the right amount of emotion. R— would have loved it. So many people came up to me to say what a wonderful service it was.”
“Thank you for the beautiful service you did for my Mum.
Without exception all there thought it great and that it was just what Mum would have loved. Most also said that it was exactly the kind of service that they wanted (I will point them in your direction).
It was a day I was not looking forward to and anticipated, prior to meeting your good self, a boring and upsetting service. It was not. I cannot thank you enough for Mum’s send off.”
“Thank you Hannah. The service was perfect. It summed B— up completely. Everyone in that room could take something from it and think yes, that was B—. I’m so glad that this type of service was brought to our attention, and so happy that you delivered it for us.”
“Hannah conducted my son’s memorial and burial services in May 2015. She carefully noted all of the information that was provided to her – in order to ensure the services that she delivered provided a wonderful; insightful; accurate and appropriate tribute to my son – in fact I felt as if she had actually known him personally.
Hannah’s qualities include: compassion; empathy; understanding and a genuine desire to always do the very best that she can and she certainly went the extra mile or two in order to ensure that she fully met our wishes, at very short notice.Many service attendees have commented that, like me, they found Hannah’s services to be very uplifting and a source of great comfort.
I have no hesitation in recommending Hannah to anyone seeking a Humanist funeral service for a loved one.”
“Thank you for the wonderful service on Monday. There were so many comments about how well you conducted the service and how everything was in keeping with my dad. It was exactly as I wanted his last farewell to be. I’m sure that he would have been very pleased.”
“Hannah, I want to thank you for a lovely service for my dad, some of the people who attended also commented on how it was really personal and not like a sad event. This is what I wanted for Dad, happy memories. I feel like I’ve handed Dad over to Mam and they have danced off into the sunset.”
“Thank you Hannah. Everyone at the funeral tea commented on your tribute, about how special and uplifting it was and how well you presented it. It’s impossible in the re-telling to let you know how much warmth and feeling came through whilst you were speaking. It felt as though you had known him. This all seems rather gushy and I’m not normally that kind of person but it’s a true reflection of how you made us all feel and made a very sad day more easy to deal with.”
“I would like to say a very big thank you for the service you conducted for Mum, it really felt personal and certainly brought about a few tears which I think were more happy ones than sad.”
“On behalf of all of us I cannot thank you enough for today as you made what could have been such a sombre day, a special one and we will, I’m sure, look back on it with fond memories. At the risk of embarrassing you I can’t count the number of people who commented on the excellent service and particularly the care and warmth in your delivery which reflected how my Dad will be remembered. True there were tears, only natural for someone so loved, but they were tempered by some laughs too at some memories of his past that many people weren’t aware of. Once again thank you.”
“It was a pleasure to have met you and to have you carry out the ceremony for my father. I appreciate very much your professionalism but also the way you approached the whole occasion with sensitivity and thoughtfulness.”
“Just another word of thanks for your warmth, understanding and compassion at M—‘s funeral service. Very many people commented to me what a wonderful service it was reflecting her in all the aspects of her life. So ‘thank you’. Several people even commented, “Maybe I’ll have a Humanist service, one like that would be good.” So it has also proved to be some food for thought for the future.”