Celebration of a Life
A funeral is a sad and emotional event but it is also a celebration of someone’s life and of the joy and happiness that knowing them brought – someone who was special to those around them. That celebration should acknowledge the sad side of the funeral but also be focussed on the person who lived – who they were and what they meant to the people who knew them.
I work with you to create and deliver meaningful and worthwhile non-religious funeral ceremonies that celebrate and remember a person’s life; of the life they lived, the things they did and the people who loved them.
Working with you and listening to you, I find out about the way you would like the funeral of your loved one to be and the way that you would like to remember them.
I talk to you; the family, or those arranging the funeral to find out about the deceased person and your wishes for the funeral. I write the ceremony, liaise with the funeral director and keep you informed, then on the day, I take the funeral at the crematorium, burial place, or wherever has been arranged.
The ceremony centres around the Tribute – the story of the deceased person. It forms the core of the funeral ceremony. This is the part that I write first, from all that you have told me. The other parts of the ceremony are written around this.
In order to ensure that the ceremony is exactly what you want, I share the significant parts, especially the Tribute, with you to enable your comments and amendments.
At the same time, I liaise with the funeral director to ensure that everything is ready and prepared as you wish. Then, on the day, I deliver the funeral at the crematorium or burial ground, or wherever it is arranged.
Further details of the process are covered in more detail on other pages of this website – please click on the appropriate tab in the green section above this text.
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You may wish to contact me directly, using the details on these pages. I will liaise with the funeral director that you have chosen. Alternatively, you may tell the funeral director that would like me to work with you and they will contact me.
It may be that I have been recommended to you by the funeral director and you have looked at this website to find out a little more about me before you agree to their recommendation – I hope that you are reassured by what you see!
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What Happens Next
When I speak to you first, we can arrange a longer meeting, either face to face* or via Zoom, etc. If that is not possible, we may be able to complete the details with a longer telephone call – whichever you find most suitable. This is usually referred to as the Family Meeting – it is a special time and one which I value.
You may not feel at your best if you have just lost someone close but I am happy to give as much time as is needed to chat to you and learn about you and the person who has died.
I want to find out about you and you will want to know a little about me. Most of all, I want you to feel that I am going to take the funeral in the way that you want it to be.
More details can be found on other pages on this site.
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The Wider Role of the Celebrant
The second role of a celebrant, which is not usually highlighted, is to give families and those who are grieving, time and support. The celebration of a life – the funeral – is an important but difficult event for anyone to go through. It is a time of very mixed emotions and it is probably a time when you will need guidance and reassurance.
I’m not a trained counsellor but some of what I do has elements of counselling. Many people find that the process of talking to the celebrant, through to the funeral and the days afterwards are a great help in the grieving. I would hope that by working with you, I can help a little at a very difficult time. I think I’m easy to talk to – at least, that’s what I hope!
If nothing else, I want to give to the family, the reassurance they need; that the funeral will be taken in the way they want, so that they can feel they have done the right thing by the deceased person.
I am happy to spend as much or as little time as you wish, talking through the person’s life, or just talking.
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*Please see the notes under the Coronavirus – Covid-19 tab. Actual visits may not be possible at present due to Coronavirus regulations.
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Funerals without Religion – Why I Take Funerals
The death of a loved one or close friend is a difficult time and, unfortunately it is one that most of us will have to experience at some time. We are sad and we grieve. We may never stop grieving, but life also goes on and, over time, we adjust to that loss.
There seems to be a common desire amongst all humans to mark major life events; birth, marriage, birthdays, retirement and more.
A ceremony to mark the death of someone and to celebrate their life is important, often regarded as a necessity, not just for the family but for the wider community of relations, friends and colleagues. It is part of the process of adjusting to our continuing lives without that person.
Whilst being sad events, funerals can also be an expression of the joy that people feel from having been a part of a someone’s life. A funeral may contain both tears and laughter because they are about the life of someone special and of the things they did; good, bad and often funny. A ceremony should focus on the person and the story of their life, and how they will be remembered.
Everyone’s life is unique and everyone has a story to tell.
In the past, the standard was a church funeral, often there was no other choice. For many people, a religious funeral ceremony is neither appropriate nor meaningful. Religious ceremonies may focus more on doctrine and ritual than on the deceased person, which may leave those attending feeling unfulfilled and disappointed. I have been at some church funerals and thought; where was Uncle George in all of that? (Insert the relative of your choice!)
Some funerals that I have attended; whether religious or not, have been very good, but there have been some which were very disappointing. I have come away feeling that the person deserved better. After a career in education, which inevitably involves talking to a lot of different people and a certain amount of performance, I knew that I could spend time with people then write and deliver a good funeral.
That is why I always do my best to create and deliver ceremonies which mark a person’s death in a way that is meaningful for those attending, reflecting their full value to families and friends, and the wider community of which they were a part.
I chose to train with Humanists UK, partly because the Humanist approach to life was in accord with my way of thinking but also because of the style of funeral ceremonies that they encourage its celebrants to take. Humanists UK approve and monitor the celebrants who work through their organisation in order to ensure that only high quality and worthwhile ceremonies are created; which is exactly as it should be.
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Ask me for advice or assistance
Please contact me by telephone or email. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about ceremonies or arrangements – I will do my best to help and advise. I don’t mind what you want to ask me about – I have been asked some strange and interesting questions over the years and I always do my best to answer them.
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