Setting time aside to remember someone who has left those footprints on your heart and changed your life forever is so important.
Although we can be tempted to put things off, especially during this pandemic, there are many ways to honour someone's life that will provide that much needed time of reflection and remembrance.
Many families are choosing smaller, intimate gatherings now, with plans for something larger at a later date.
Others are choosing to utilize technology to include those who are not able to attend a gathering, whether it is due to restrictions on numbers, travel distance or health concerns.
I am always here to help guide any family who is wondering what options are available to them and will create a ceremony that is meaningful and suitable for the type of gathering they wish to have.
Although the way we have been able to gather and honour our loved ones has been very different this year, it hasn't changed our need to set aside time to remember and reflect.
Many of the ceremonies I've conducted over the past few months were intimate gatherings of the closest family members and friends. They often took place at the graveside or at a meaningful location.
While they did not resemble traditional gatherings of the past, they did offer a very special time of sharing memories and reflecting on the love and friendship that had been shared through the years.
Some may think that there is nothing more opposite than a funeral and a celebration. However, as a Funeral Celebrant, the ceremonies I write honour and celebrate the life that was lived.
While it is true that the ceremony will acknowledge the deep loss that has occurred, the focus is not so much on death, but on life and all that it encompassed. The treasured moments and memories, the adventures, the personality, the love and family and friendships and so much more.
Each life is special, and what an honour it is to be able to write and officiate a ceremony of celebration that is both personal and meaningful.
One of the most frequent requests I receive are for graveside ceremonies, also called interments. Intimate gatherings of close family and friends, graveside ceremonies are shorter than a traditional funeral service and can usually be held within a few days.
Interments require much less planning than a celebration of life or traditional funeral, but still provide that special time to honour, reflect and remember. Many times, immediately following the interment, families and friends will gather at a favourite restaurant or at someone's home to continue sharing memories.
Or some families plan to have a celebration of life at another date in the future, giving themselves more time to plan a larger event, perhaps at a time when more people are able to attend.
When cremation has taken place, it can also be done the other way around, where a celebration of life occurs first and then a graveside or ash scattering ceremony is planned at a later date.
There are so many options available to celebrate your loved one's life in a way that is suitable and meaningful for your family.
I'm always here to help you, writing and officiating a special ceremony that is tailored to the event you have planned.
1. One-of-a-Kind Ceremonies
Each ceremony I write is completely unique and personal. No two ceremonies are the same. Your loved one will have a ceremony that is specifically created for them.
2. Time Spent to Get it Just Right
I spend as much time as is needed to really learn about your loved one. I then spend hours writing a ceremony that truly reflects their personality, beliefs and what they meant to you.
The ceremony I write can be spiritual, non-denominational, or completely non-religious. It can be held at a location that is meaningful to your family and can be meant for a large or small gathering. It can be formal or more casual, and there is no pressure to conform to anything that is not meaningful to your family.
4. Experience to Guide You
I am here to offer my assistance and experience as you plan the special event to honour your loved one. As a Funeral Celebrant, my focus is completely on end-of-life ceremonies and I will work together with you to get your final goodbye just right.
I have been asked why I only officiate funeral ceremonies and don’t do weddings or something more “positive” as well. Isn’t it so negative? Being surrounded by death and grieving all the time?
Actually it’s not. There are certainly times and situations that are more heavy with grief and sadness than others. And my heart always goes out to each family I speak with no matter the circumstances.
But the time I spend with families is often filled with moments of laughter as well as tears as our discussion focuses on more than just the loss. There are often beautiful, happy, poignant or even silly memories that come up. Memories of the good times and how special that person really was.
I find it so fulfilling to write a ceremony that truly honours that life - the personality, beliefs, struggles and triumphs of that person - and to give the family the opportunity for a beautiful and meaningful goodbye.
Often the family remains in my thoughts and prayers for long after my time with them is done.
Negative? No. Difficult? Sometimes, yes. But fulfilling? 100% yes!
From day to day, and even sometimes minute to minute, things have been drastically changing around us due to COVID-19 and it has been so difficult for everyone.
For those who have lost someone they love, these times are even more challenging - even more lonely, confusing and filled with anxiety.
Every life deserves to be honoured and remembered and yet many are wondering exactly how to do that with social distancing and the health and safety measures that have been put into place.
You have not been forgotten and your questions are valid.
As a Funeral Celebrant, I can help. There are a number of options which may suit you and your family during these trying times.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. An intimate graveside ceremony with close family
2. A private ash scattering ceremony
3. Any of the above options with a larger Celebration of Life at a later date.
4. Waiting and having a Celebration of Life at a later date.
5. An online ceremony (for private or public viewing). It can be broadcast live online, or recorded and then shared and viewed later.
An online ceremony can be made as elaborate or simple as you wish. As simple as having your Funeral Celebrant officiating a ceremony just to the video camera, to having a ceremony with a small group of people and sharing it with everyone who is not able to come.
There is also the opportunity to include music, picture slideshows and even other pre-recorded content (such as a eulogy or special tribute from a family member or friend).
Each family is different and each set of circumstances is unique.
I am here to work with you, finding that very special and meaningful way to honour your loved one.
You are not alone. Please feel free to connect with me via email, phone, text or even Facebook. I'd love to hear from you.
Casual. Laid back. Not too formal. These are words I hear more and more from families when I ask what type of atmosphere they envision for honouring and celebrating the life of their loved one.
The way you choose to remember a loved one should suit your family - it does not have to be traditional, formal or be the same as a funeral you have attended in the past.
As your Funeral Celebrant, the ceremony I write and officiate will be personal, meaningful and suit the type of event that you have in mind.
Whether it is casual or formal. A large gathering or small.
The important thing is that you take time to honour your loved one in a meaningful way.
How you do it - well that's up to you.
If you have lost a loved one, you may be feeling very disconnected from the hustle and bustle and this season of holiday cheer.
You may have been dreading the holidays, knowing that this year will be different.
And it will be different. There is no denying it. Yet there is a special gift that we can chose to open this year.
A gift that cannot be taken away from us.
It is the gift of our memories.
You see, each time we embrace a memory we meet again with those we love. For the heart never forgets.
Each memory is a gift that we can unwrap.
Whether you tear off the paper in a hurry to see what’s inside.
Or whether you savour each moment, carefully peeling off each piece of tape until you can fold back the brightly coloured paper.
You may want to set aside a quiet time to unwrap the gift of your memories. Or you may wish to do it as part of a boisterous, noisy family gathering, with each one adding the gift of their own memories to the pile.
Some memories will bring laughter. Some tears. Some will be bitter sweet. But it is these memories that keep our loved ones alive in our hearts.
So this Christmas season, take some time to unwrap and savour the memories. You can treasure them for years to come.
Has your loved one told you they don't want a funeral?
The reasons for not desiring a funeral vary, but often include:
- they don't connect to the traditional or religious way of doing things
- concerns about being a financial burden
- not wanting to be the center of attention, even in death
But what they don't realize is how valuable a meaningful funeral is to their family. Although a funeral honours and remembers the life of the deceased, it is actually beneficial for the living.
A funeral gives the living an opportunity for a purposeful and meaningful experience, providing a focal point to remember all that their loved one meant to them.
It often brings a sense of completeness, like the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one.
Through our lives we acknowledge the birth of a baby, our subsequent birthdays, graduations, marriages, retirements and other milestones, and families whose loved one has requested no funeral often tell me that they continue to feel like something was left undone or unfinished for years to come.
So what do you do if your loved one has requested no funeral?
Have a conversation with them if it is still possible. There are many ways to make a funeral very meaningful without being traditional, religious, costly or uncomfortable.
Here are some simple suggestions that I have found that work for many of the families I work with:
1. Having a small graveside ceremony with just close family and friends, meeting at a favourite restaurant afterwards.
2. Finding a cozy location to have a casual gathering where the focus is celebrating the life of your loved one and who they were. There does not even have to be an urn or a casket of any kind present.
3. Doing something as a family in your loved one's honour. For instance, going to one last hockey game together, volunteering at a local charity that was meaningful to your loved one, or even going on a family trip together. Then following it up with a gathering in someone's home or a local hall or pub.
The options are endless. And as your Funeral Celebrant, I will create a ceremony that is fitting for what your loved one wants and the event you wish to have.
The key is to do something meaningful, and to avoid doing nothing.
Your loved one lived. They were loved. And they are worth honouring.
Take time to remember.