The Good Funeral Awards opening ceremony comprised a cavalcade of alternative hearses, a flower arranging contest, a dove release and a performance by the green fuse choir. It culminated in this address by funeral celebrant Belinda Forbes. You had to be there, of course, to get the full 120% because Belinda’s delivery is very compelling. But the 100% version still says it all.
Looking around tonight, I think it’s fairly safe to say that we’re a mixed bunch. But, as well as our funeral work, we do have something else in common…
We worry. And it’s not surprising. With funerals, there’s only ONE chance to get it right. No re-takes.
I worry about everything. As the hollow-eyed man who is my husband will tell you. However, most things are in our control so, it’s the day of the funeral when I do most of my worrying. On one occasion I was so worried that the family bearers were going to drop the coffin that I did the only thing a celebrant can do in a situation like this.
I shut my eyes.
But whenever I’m worrying, there’s one thing I know I can depend on – all the people around me who care as well, wanting THIS funeral to be best it can be. And to everyone I work with and the staff at my local crematorium in Bracknell: THANK YOU for looking after me and making me smile.
And so, despite the worry, I can truthfully say…
I love my job.
But I don’t make a habit of telling people this. Because they might think I’m saying, ‘I love death.’ Or worse, ‘I love it when people die.’
When we say what we do for a living, some people are fascinated and want to know more. Others are so desperate to escape, SO determined NOT to know more, that they’ll put their hands up as if trying to protect themselves from what we might reveal!
Part of the shock is our fault of course. Because we cunningly disguise ourselves to look like normal people.
But tonight, thanks to a slightly bonkers yet wonderfully brilliant idea by those visionaries, Brian Jenner and Charles Cowling, we can reveal ourselves. IN ALL OUR GLORY.
Instead of words like dismal, unpleasant, sombre and depressing we can UNASHAMEDLY use words like devoted, enthusiastic, dedicated and inspirational.
And one day we’ll be able to tell everyone what we do for a living without apologising and saying, ‘It’s not as bad as it sounds…’
Finally, some advice from a lady who writes posts for the Good Funeral Guide Blog: that wise and fearless funeral-goer Lyra Mollington.
‘To the finalists: well done and my very best wishes. And, if you win one of the awards, try not to look too elated or smug: just a serene acceptance that your brilliance has at last been recognised.’
And I now hand you back to the force of nature that is our host this evening. The loveliest and most generous man in the land of funerals, Mr Charles Cowling.
ED’S NOTE: It was an inviolable condition of publishing this that the nice bits about me stayed in. Pass over them. Brian is justly garlanded.