When I first announced to the world that I was training to become a Funeral Celebrant, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A part of me wondered if I would be subjected to morbid jokes and asked why I would want to spend my days focusing on something as negative as death.
But I was pleasantly surprised by the kind words, support and encouragement that I received.
Those around me seemed to understand and value my desire to walk alongside families in their times of deep sorrow, grief and vulnerability and do all that I can to provide a good funeral for them. For their loved one.
You might wonder how a funeral could possibly be good. As described in a 2012 study by Olson Zaltman Associates, the words that often come to mind when we think of traditional funerals are words like lonely, cold, intimidating, just going through the motions, disconnected, depressing and dark.
This is not the kind of experience I want for the families I work with. Far from it in fact!
I experienced my first good funeral at my Grandpa’s celebration of life and it truly was a positive experience, even though we were all grieving his loss.
Although it was a time to say goodbye, this good funeral gave us permission to keep the memory of Grandpa alive. It shared his uniqueness and all that he meant to us and to others.
It celebrated the accomplishments and joys in his life. We laughed as well as cried.
It mourned the hardships and losses, and fostered support and a sense of togetherness among all those who were in attendance.
Close family and friends chose to participate in making his funeral extra special, from creating the program, to singing his favourite songs, designing the beautiful floral arrangement and even making a picture slideshow full of good memories. Some just said a few heartfelt words and others told some great stories.
My Grandpa’s good funeral also included meaningful faith elements that related to how he expressed his own personal beliefs, and the scriptures that were read reflected his life of farming, sowing and reaping.
We were reminded that his life mattered and he wouldn’t be forgotten.
My mom still says to this day that Grandpa would’ve loved his funeral. All the stories that were shared. All of his loved ones that he was so proud of, gathered together. Everything was just right - just the way he would’ve liked it.
This is my goal. And my passion. To help families in the midst of their grief and sorrow have a good funeral experience too.
A beautiful good-bye and yet a welcoming of treasured memories. Now that’s a good funeral.