When asked what my favourite type of ceremony is I usually reply, funerals. Mostly people are surprised at this answer, but a ‘good’ funeral is something very special.
Personally, I think that to say good bye to someone who has died is important, a form of courtesy. As well as saying good bye funerals also provide a space to acknowledge that someone has died, to bring ourselves together in community to share our grief and to celebrate that person. It is a chance to reflect on the meaning of life and death and to welcome the continuity of life for those remaining. And the stories that we get to share … part of our history, unknown aspects of a full life, dreams realised and dreams that will go unrealised.
And, of course, there are many ways, private and public, that we can do this.
And a variety of ways that I, as a Celebrant, can be of support.
Funeral Service: The most common way is to be the Celebrant at a funeral, working with the family and the funeral company.
Pre-planning: is becoming more common and with my experience I can partner you to leave a framework of requests and ideas for your funeral. Often these include favourite songs or readings but may include personal reflections on dying and death. Many leave room for those planning their funeral to have input as well.
Behind the scenes: On occasion I have worked behind the scenes to help design a ceremony that is then delivered by a friend or family member, with me in attendance just in case I am needed. For example, a granddaughter was very keen to do her grandmother’s funeral but was nervous about what was needed and how she might be on the day emotionally. We worked together before hand and designed who would do which sections of the funeral. This worked well with the granddaughter having the ‘lead’ role.
At whatever stage of the funeral process I am engaged, most of the work is done beforehand.
What makes a ‘good’ funeral? I mentioned ‘good’ funerals earlier on. Whether for a baby, a middle-aged man or an elder, ‘good’ funerals have some elements in common:
- They are ‘true’ to the deceased, in the words used and the use of symbols and rituals.
- They are a length that works for the family, friends & community
- They acknowledge the range of feelings and emotions present
- Like a good story they provide a beginning, a middle and an end, a pathway of ‘marking’ that life
Some of the practicalities to consider:
I suggest you have a read of Te Hokinga ā Wairua – End of Life Service, https://endoflife.services.govt.nz/welcome
This is a public site with two key functions:
- Someone’s died and I need information. Find information about what to do, and services that might be available to you, following the death of a loved one.
- I want to plan and share my wishes and information. Find information to help you create and share a personalised plan of what you want to happen when you die.