Here is a possibly inspiring tale from a celebrant in the south-east. She has asked me to withhold her name and email address because she simply won’t have time to correspond if lots of people want to contact her.
You have quite often written about celebrants and recently people who do not want a funeral and I thought you might like to know my news. I have been trying to widen my celebrancy base for some time, offering ceremonies for all the life events I can think of even a Coming out of Prison ceremony! Uptake has been abit slow though and as I was wondering how I could make a living as a fulltime celebrant it suddenly came to me when I was doing a funeral ceremony in the crem a about 8 months ago, a sudden out of the box leap of the imagination. This is how it happened, I was in the middle of a poem I have read so many times I can do it from memory, I was looking at the mourners doing my best to make eye contact and put across the meaning of the poem and as so often happens I was getting nothing back except for rather empty stares from rather hollow eyes, you know what I mean I’m sure!! At first I felt a bit miffed to put it frankly. I thought, “come on people I’m doing all the work here!!!” and then it struck me, THESE PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO BE HERE!! I went on thinking and pondering about this in the days afterwards. I pondered that as a celebrant what we try to do is to take all of the burden off of our families that we possibly can, what with all their grief that they have to struggle to contend with, this is where we as celebrants and funeral directors come in, make it as easy for them as we possibly can, lift the burden. “All you have to do is be there!” is something I often say to familys beforehand about the funeral because their so not looking forward to it. Infact so many don’t want to be there actually even though they want their loved one to have a good send off so, and this is my BIG NEWS, now I explore this with familys gently and tell them “you don’t have to be there if you don’t want you know, I’ll do it all” and if they want arrange for photo’s to be taken, audio recording, even a video, I can fix that for them. Of course most people feel after quite a big struggle they ought to go along and they do come but some decide not, its a weight off their mind and they are very grateful knowing that everything is going to be done with dignity and they will have a momento of the event of their choice. This does not I emphasise go down at all well with some of my Funeral Directors!! But I remind them that choice is everything these days isn’t it?!!
Again thinking outside the envelope (my big strength!) from this I thought about all those people that don’t just find funerals difficult they find looking after their elderly rellies difficult especially if their in a care home and perhaps a bit lacking in faculties. They dread that weekly visit!! So now I offer a service to these families, it goes like this. We have a weekly phone chat and they tell me all the news, they also give me a shopping list of everything I need to take up. I go up to the care home and I sit with the old person and tell them all the news slowly in their own time often using photo’s to link the news item to the person it applies to. The old folk really appreciate I think having someone talk to them who has time and is a bridge to their family, someone who doesn’t feel awkward and itchy to go, my professional detachment kicks in, we develop a real bond. Well two weeks ago one of my oldies died, a lady and here’s my big news, on Tuesday we had her funeral and the family entrusted everything to me, it was a huge privilege and gesture of trust, I was up there at the crem on my own representing them, just me and old Mum and it made such a difference actually knowing the deceased for once, it felt really lovely and I spoke some of the words to her and some to a video camera which the family now has as a momento. The family were so grateful and we all though we had done Mum proud.
So there we are, here’s a thought for all you celebrants out there, if you want to offer a joined up service to people consider offering this service, I can’t tell you want a difference it makes doing a funeral for someone you actually know!!
NOTE: This is satirical fiction. It was composed by the author in an uncharacteristically sardonic mood. He deeply regrets, if you have given the above any credence whatever, that we should have come to this.