Several weeks ago I had the privilege to do a graveside ceremony for a person for whom I knew almost nothing about. The only information I was given ahead of time was the name and age of the deceased. No other details. No family members or friends sharing fond memories or the telling me the story of his life.
You see, the body of this individual had not been claimed. In Ontario, Social Services agencies refer these cases to a local funeral provider and arrangements are made to care for placing the body in its final resting place. Whether there was simply no family left, or the family was not financially able to handle the arrangements I don’t know.
I wondered about the life this person lived - about his childhood, his first romance. Was his life filled with adventure or did he stay close to home? Did he have friends that drifted apart as the years went by? Did he suffer? Was he lonely? What made him laugh?
These are things that I will likely never find out. I will never know the story of this life and all the other lives that may have been touched through this individual.
But it was truly an honour and a privilege to give this person the dignity of a beautiful graveside ceremony and a proper burial.
There were only five of us gathered around the grave - the Funeral Director, his assistants and myself, as we said farewell to the friend we never knew.
It's funny how something as simple as a pair of rubber boots can cause a moment of reflection. I picked up a shiny new pair just the other day - they are out in stores in abundance now. 'Tis the season of gardening and jumping in rain puddles. Or it soon will be.
But I did not purchase these boots for any of those reasons. I will be wearing these boots to a place no one wants to be - the cemetery.
As funny as it may sound, I consider It an honour to wear these boots and to go where not many others want to be. To be with families and share a moment of reflection before their loved one is laid to rest.
I can't share much about what I do. The details belong to the families I serve. But I can say that I love what I do. I am humbled and amazed and blessed in so many ways.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey!
Did you know...
There are many beautiful and environmentally friendly ways to say goodbye?
It is never easy to say a final farewell to a loved one or friend. Having something visual that inspires a time of peaceful reflection can help, whether you take a private moment all on your own or whether you choose to include it as part of the funeral or celebration of life.
Here are some ideas that are beautiful, as well as environmentally and budget friendly.
Hanging coloured lights
Lighting a beautiful lantern or candle
Releasing flowers or flower petals into a stream or lake
Flying a kite, or creating a streamer or banner
Planting a tree or a flower
Creating flying wish papers
Painting a rock or stepping stone for your garden
Feeding the birds
Building a cairn (a stack of stones built as a memorial)
Feel free to comment below with ideas of your own.
He made your world go round... his funeral should be just as legendary.
As a Funeral Celebrant, the end-of-life ceremonies I create are uniquely personal, meaningful and memorable.
Every part of the ceremony will reflect your loved one - the life they lived, the things that were important to them, their personality, passions, hobbies and beliefs.
The words I write for the ceremony will be combined with thoughtfully chosen music, poetry and visual displays.
The end result will be a fitting tribute that is both personal and meaningful.
A one-of-a-kind ceremony for the one who made your world go round.
Did You Know...
You can choose a meaningful place for the funeral of your loved one?
When we think of attending a funeral, we often assume it will be held in a funeral home or church. These choices can be suitable if there will be a viewing of the body or a more traditional style of ceremony.
But most people do not know that funerals can be held just about anywhere.
The key is to select a location that is meaningful to your family and symbolic of your loved one.
Keep in mind how many people you expect to attend as well as whether you want the event to be formal or informal.
Cost may also be a factor, as well as the length of time you have available to plan before the date of the funeral.
There are many beautiful facilities to choose from, including:
parks, gardens & wineries,
restaurants, patios & your local legion,
museums, theatres & aquariums,
clubhouses, arenas & halls,
a church, the family farm or even your own backyard.
Did you know...
As a Funeral Celebrant, I spend my days writing stories, creating meaningful and memorable end-of-life ceremonies.
I spend hours researching, writing and arranging the ceremony; weaving the story of your loved one's life together with elements such as poetry and music.
The result is a one-of-a-kind tribute to their life journey. It's personal, meaningful and memorable and a fitting way to say good-bye.
She was one-of-a-kind. Her funeral should be just as unique.
As a Funeral Celebrant, I spend time getting to know who your loved one was, so that the ceremony is personal and meaningful.
Elements such as music, poetry and special tributes will be carefully chosen to reflect your loved one's personality, beliefs and interests.
There is no one size fits all for ceremonies I perform. Each one is unique as the life that was lived. Just as it should be.
Did you know...
As a Funeral Celebrant, I spend time connecting with families just like yours.
I will make arrangements to meet with you in your home or wherever is right for you.
During our time together, you will have the opportunity to share your memories, stories and photos. Other members of the family and close friends are also welcome to take part.
I want to get to know who your loved one was and discover what made them so unique.
The one-of-a-kind ceremony I create will honour your loved one and those special memories.
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.