Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve just died and, because you’ve died, you discover you’ve developed the ability to ‘hover’ around, watching what’s going on ‘below’ (I have no way of knowing whether this actually happens, but it’s a nice idea)
Now imagine that it’s the day of your funeral;
You note that hovering around, unobserved, isn’t as interesting as you thought it might be, but you console yourself with the thought that, for the next 30 minutes (or more – if your family has booked a double session – fingers crossed!) everything is going to totally be about YOU!
Imagine now that the bearers have done their funny little shuffle to get aligned with the crematorium doors and the opening strains of ‘Amazing Grace’ have just started up. You look surprised (for some reason, you can still do ‘expressions’ –who knew!)
You think to yourself; ‘hang on a minute, I’ve always hated this song’
‘They played this at my funeral as well’ says an elderly woman, dressed in what looks like, a floor length white nighty. I say, ‘floor length’, but of course you can’t actually see her feet, because she appears to be floating as well.
‘Apparently it’s very popular. I wanted to come in to ‘Love Shack, but they didn’t want to talk about it, and I suppose I just thought that once the time came, they’d know me better’
You get the sinking feeling that no one in your family appears to know the first thing about you either – imagine your disappointment as the funeral draws to a close;
‘Who was that about – and where was I in all of that?’
How many times have you attended a funeral, listened to the eulogy, looked around and wondered whether you had inadvertently wandered into the wrong service? Who on earth are they talking about and how do these words bear any relation to the person you knew and loved?
While it is sad to lose someone close, I believe that a funeral service should also embrace the act of celebrating that person’s life, in whatever way seems appropriate to them. I don’t mean celebrating with a large, noisy party – although why not, if that is how they lived their life – but celebrating through shared memories and feelings, laughter, smiles and tears.
The most memorable funerals are the ones where family and friends have played an important role in contributing to a service which celebrates the life of the individual.
Saying a final goodbye to someone you love, is a terribly hard thing, without factoring in society’s ‘expectations’ about how you should respond, making it a great deal harder. We all react to death in different ways and no one should be able to judge what is the correct or incorrect way, least of all the person experiencing it.
Arranging a loved one’s funeral will be one of the last things you are able to do for them, so it seems to me that your chosen service or ceremony should reflect who they were, the impact they made and what they meant to the people gathering to say goodbye.
If I can help you to create a Unique2u service that allows everyone present to mourn in their own way, whether through tears, laughter, sharing memories or even by sitting quietly and reflecting, I will have done my job.
WHY DO WE HAVE FUNERALS?
Afuneral marks the change in our relationship with our loved one, from a relationship with a physical presence, to a relationship with someone who is no longer there. It is an opportunity for friends and family to process what has happened, to acknowledge their death and to say goodbye in a safe and supportive environment. It is also of course, the time for the dignified disposal of the physical remains and an acknowledgement of their final resting place.
I believe that a ‘good’ funeral should help to facilitate healing by helping family and friends to pay tribute to the significance of the life of their loved one, not only on their own individual lives but also their impact on the lives of others; during a funeral it is possible to discover all sorts of things you didn’t know about the deceased.
WHAT DOES A FUNERAL CELEBRANT DO?
Unique2u & Unique2 them
A Funeral Celebrant’s job is to provide a suitable and personal tribute to the life that was lived, in order to provide the necessary emotional support and a cathartic experience to the deceased’s loved ones.
Death, whether sudden or unexpected is always surrounded by the complex emotions of those left behind. You may feel a desire to protect the feelings of others by holding back on your own grief, for example. You may have fears about the funeral itself and about your role within it – ‘how am I supposed to behave?’ Your emotions may conspire to hinder your ability to make quick decisions and you may feel overwhelmed by the practicalities.
An Independent Celebrant is not bound by any restrictions on the type of material used, so the content of your Order of Service can be a mixture of religious and secular.
In consultation with family and friends, I will marry together the different aspects and perspectives of your loved one, tying together the different strands of their life so that we can present a complete picture of their life and how they lived it: their experiences, their personality, their loves and their character – their story, as told through the eulogy or tribute.
I can deliver the eulogy/tribute on the day, if that is what you want, or it can be edited, adapted and spoken by someone else or broken down to be spoken by several people. The choice is yours and my job is to facilitate what you want within a service that is Unique2u.
Having listened to and interpreted the wishes of family and friends, while taking into account family and cultural traditions, I can create a cohesive and inclusive order of service for your event which will reflect the life journey of your loved one.
In short, I can put your loved one’s life into context and give them their legacy by creating a ceremony that is Unique2 them.
CAN FAMILY & FRIENDS PARTICIPATE IN THE SERVICE?
Yes, of course! The more contributions from other people, the more Unique the Order of Service will be.
Below are some of the ways in which Family & Friends can contribute….
- Make a musical contribution – depending upon where you are holding your service, these can be recordings or live
- Do a reading – either of something pre-existing, or write something yourself
- Write and speak a eulogy or tribute – or ask me to write or speak it for you, on your behalf
- Contribute ideas for the Order of Service
- Share a memory of the deceased – either speak yourself or ask for it to be included in a tribute
- Create a visual tribute – or contribute photos towards one
- Help to decorate your loved one’s coffin
- Help to decorate the ceremony venue
- Contribute a specific ritual or symbolic ceremony
- Contribute art work – to a visual tribute or as part of the Order of Service
- Planting or giving flowers
- Offer to help with ushering
- Co-ordinate themed clothing (or colours)
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM ME?
I will contact you to arrange an initial meeting during which I will listen to your ideas for your Service and talk to you about your loved one; their life, their achievements, their role within your family, the people who were important to them; their story.
I will create a draft Eulogy/Tribute based upon the shared information of family and friends – a tribute that is Unique2 your loved one. Once approved, this can be spoken entirely by myself or by a family member, or it can be divided up between several people. You are free to make your own additions or alterations – the choice is entirely yours.
I will liaise with your chosen Funeral Director about your Order of Service, and choice of music. I will gather, edit as required and then add any further tributes and readings (poems, prose, songs etc) to the final Order of Service. Once approved by you, the Funeral Director will arrange for the Order of Service to be printed. I will present you with a hard copy of the complete Order of Service after the funeral.
I will deliver the Ceremony, on the day at a venue of your choice
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT FUNERALS
You do not have to have your ceremony at a Crematorium, Chapel or Church. You can elect to have your ceremony anywhere you like
You can hold a funeral ceremony with the coffin present anywhere that will agree to have it. There is no licence needed.
If you do not wish the ceremony to be held in a religious place of worship or a crematorium, you could try….
- A village or local hall
- A function room in a hotel or pub
- A boat usually hired for parties
- The register office (purely secular ceremonies only)
A funeral can also be held
- At your home
- In your garden
- If you want the funeral and the burial to take place together
- At the graveside
- At a woodland burial ground
- On your own land or other private land
When choosing a place you need to consider:
- The permission of the owner: you must have this and you may be refused permission
- Privacy – you do not want members of the public to walk in on the funeral inadvertently.
- If in a public building being used for other things at the time, ideally the room will have its own separate entrance to the outside.
- Good access to carry a coffin in and out, so look out for narrow entrances, tight corners and stairs.
- Adequate parking.
- Sufficient seating.
- Easy access for the elderly and disabled.
- Availability of toilets and refreshments on the premises or nearby