Journey through life quote

Thursday 6th April 2017. Today is quite a milestone.  I have just officiated my 300th funeral service, or a ‘Celebration of Life’ as I prefer to call it.    So how does it feel?  A bit surreal, if I’m honest.  There’s a mix of emotions. Certainly I feel genuine empathy and sorrow for those 300 families who have lost their loved ones, yet at the same time I feel incredibly proud and privileged. Why?  Because that’s 300 instances where families have entrusted their loved ones memories to me and a job that I love with an absolute passion. I really do pride myself in making sure that the Final Farewell is the best send off it can be.

Sometimes they can be really tough. Make no mistake, whether the service is for a great-great grandad who has lived a full and fulfilling 96 years of life, or a young girl who has taken her own life, or a middle-aged person who has become lost along life’s twisted pathway, or a child who has not had the chance to fully bloom; each and every one has a special place in my own Book of Life, and some have left footprints on my heart…

There have been services with 3 people in the congregation (at the request of the deceased) to funerals of 300+ people and a representative sent by the Dalai Lama.   There have been services that have included a tot of whisky on the coffin, services that have included a Duran-Duran flag, a motorcycle hearse, horse drawn carriages, and wonderful British Legion flagbearers.   The Last Post gets me every time.  One of my highlights, and one that reminded us all there that is a Circle of Life – is when an 8 month old baby blew raspberries and waved at her 90+ year old great grandmother as we lowered her coffin.

There have been some incredible flower tributes.  I have huge respect for some of the amazing creations that I have seen!  There has been a milk bottle for a milkman, a Gameboy, a cowboy boot, vegetables from the allotment, lorries and forklift trucks to mention just a few.

My job is so much more than standing in front of a chapel of people and reading a script.  Yes I can deliver a script well; yes I can project my voice and speak clearly (and it is a huge compliment when the feedback is as such!)  but that is only one very small part of what we as Celebrants do. The best compliment has to be when someone comes up to you afterwards and says, “gosh – I didn’t know that [name] knew a Minister? How long have you’ve known her – you captured her perfectly? THAT’s what is important.  To capture the character, the essence of the person – in the right way.  You know you’ve done a good job when you get that text or phone call from the family, or the thank you card and flowers that may follow days or weeks after the service – such kind gestures and generosity from people in their own time of need…

Yup – I’ve been called a Minister, a Vicar, a Priest, ‘one of those Humanitarians,’ and a few other things in between.  It makes me laugh out loud and it does break the ice when I arrive at a home and am met with bursts of disbelief: “You’re the minister?-But you’re so young!” (Thanks by the way!) I’m a Civil Celebrant but I don’t mind what you call me, it’s never about me – it’s about the person we are saying goodbye to, their legacy and your memories. What I want is for you to remember the Final Farewell for all the right reasons….

Photos of floral tributes below are taken with the permission from all families.

Funeral flower tributes
Funeral flower tributes
Funeral flower tributes
Funeral flower tributes

And then from the internet for a laugh…

Stay humble funeral quote