Whether you are planning a funeral or memorial ceremony for yourself or someone dear to you; or getting your affairs in order, or wanting to engage in honest conversations about death and dying – there is something here for you.

Wendy offers funeral celebrant services and programs on ‘death and dying’.

Sitting with a family to discuss the funeral or memorial ceremony, while sharing stories, songs and photographs can be a ceremony in itself – a sacred place where the mourning and celebration of a beloved’s life can be expressed with laughter and tears.

Death is often a major transition within a family and community –  it can stir a deep sense of community and connection or, isolation, loss and despair – or an ever-changing blend of these qualities. Funerals can be a time of coming together, catching up with dear friends and loved ones or, it can be a time of falling apart with old ‘family wounds’ rising to the surface.

Creating a safe space where, in the conversation, everyone feels a sense of belonging, no matter what arises in the moment, can lead to a deeper connection and a clear direction forward for creating a heartfelt funeral ceremony.

“We all feel blessed that you came into our lives when you did. As you know we felt in shock, tired, in grief and a bit lost really. You just entered our home so gently and respectfully. It felt perfectly right for you to join us and direct us in what was required, now that we knew Phil was dying.

You prepared us for what might be ahead. We didn’t feel alone anymore. One thing we all agree upon is that with your support and guidance every action became a sacred ritual. Like the moving of Phil towards the end of his life, so that he could be in a more comfortable, practical space. It was transformative, at such a profound time, to have someone present who honours the passage of a Soul, who makes sacred the terrible loss that is the death of a loved one. It was so beautiful to witness you working with us that I remember thinking, “I want to do what she does!”. It is so important. So needed in our society.

Two rituals stand out for me-one where we all gathered around Phil, after he had died, and anointed him and spoke some words about our love. My granddaughter, Eliza, was included in this beautiful ceremony. I appreciated that inclusion so much.

And then, dear Wendy, when you sat with me to support me to bathe Phil’s body, that memory still brings me to tears. The questions you asked of me, the intimacy of that final touching of his body really helped me while, at the same time, being so raw and terrible.

On that last morning when we were to leave to go to the Hall for his service, your words, ‘I will be there waiting for you’, were so reassuring, enabling us to actually leave the house and go out into the day and face the world, after being enclosed for those last weeks. And having you standing there during that process was wonderful.

The liaising with the funeral director and afterwards the practical help with paper work was also very valuable when I could not think straight. With love and thanks, Marilyn, Ariel, Lia and Jai.”

Death within a family or community can produce heightened emotions and experiences which can be confusing and surreal.  Having a celebrant who can offer skilled guidance, empathy and an increased capacity to have difficult conversations and connect with people from all walks of life can help to meet the family’s needs for safety, ease and support at this challenging time.

What are the funeral ceremony options with restrictions due to the pandemic?

In most places, restrictions are lifting and more guests are able to participate in a funeral or memorial ceremony. However, travel restrictions can mean that some interstate and international family members and friends are still not able to attend.

  • Currently, most ceremony venues have the option for the funeral or memorial ceremony to be live streamed while observing the required physical distancing within the ceremony venue.
  • It is also possible to set up a ‘virtual gathering’ using a platform such as Zoom. You may choose to combine aspects of the online funeral ceremony and a face to face ceremony which is being live-streamed or, choose the more intimate, interactive online funeral ceremony followed by a live streaming of a more public funeral ceremony. Click here for a free comprehensive guide on how to conduct an interactive, online funeral ceremony.
  • In our community, a local GP died and, on the way to the private funeral ceremony, the family drove behind the hearse, taking the long route, through the seaside village where people lined the streets of the town, along the esplanade and up to the headland waving to the family as they passed.
  • Some people are opting for a small ceremony with immediate family and friends and plan to hold a memorial service once all restrictions are lifted.

Personal rituals from home

  • You might wish to set up a special table where you have a photograph of the deceased and/or candles, flowers, favourite objects of the deceased, a personal letter to them, a drink, food… whatever will honour their death and support remembrance of their gifts and legacy.
  • As in the story above, friends, family and community can form a guard of honour outside their own homes, or wave from their windows or workplace as the hearse drives past on the way to the ceremony. Flags, flowers or signs can be held.
  • Creating an online space for stories, photographs, blessings, poems dedicated to the deceased and their family.
  • Writing love letters – to the deceased that can be ritually placed in the coffin, or buried in the garden or placed in your journal. Or, a love letter can be written to the grieving family and friends offering empathy or comfort.
  • Creating an online ‘circle’ of friends – everyone could cook their favourite dish and then share an online dinner with everyone in their own homes – sharing stories, songs, photos.
  • Creating more space for the personal, quiet rituals, sitting quietly and letting the tears flow, (or the anger, numbness or whatever else is arising). Opening to take time to reflect, mourn and celebrate the things that have touched you, things that were said, allowing whatever is present to be felt, just as it is.
  • Call upon your family and friends and also community support groups or online services. Write down who are the support people you would feel comfortable to contact when it all gets too much. It can be hard to think of who to call when you are in need.

Intimate Rituals, Family Gatherings and Public Ceremonies

For stories and examples of small and intimate rituals, family gatherings and public ceremonies, Wendy’s book, How to Create Inspiring Funeral and Memorial Ceremonies has it all. This practical guide to creating heartfelt and personal funeral and memorial ceremonies has real life ceremony contributions from Wendy, Faridah Cameron, Catherine Campbell, Janice Crawford and Robyn Mills. It covers:

  • Planning and writing a funeral ceremony
  • How to write an uplifting and inspiring eulogy
  • Selecting and supporting speakers
  • How to choose a funeral director or celebrant
  • Dealing with challenges
  • A wealth of inspiring words and stories
  • Examples of actual ceremonies

Inspiring Funeral and Memorial Services o

Getting Your Affairs in Order Before You Die

Click here for a comprehensive checklist to support you ‘getting your affairs in order’ whether you are young, old, healthy or been given a terminal diagnosis – there is no time like now to give consideration to some very important questions and in doing so, live more fully.

An experienced celebrant can work with an individual or the whole family at any stage to make plans, discuss options and create an outline for the ceremony, even well before it may be needed.

To connect with Wendy and an amazing group of people who love to talk on this topic, you may also wish to join her program, Celebrating This Precious Life – Honest Conversations about Death and Dying.

Celebrating This Precious Life

If you’d like to cover a broader range of topics relating to Death and Dying, then you may want to join Wendy’s six month program which is for celebrants, family, friends, health care workers, social workers.  The program is monthly sessions where we meet to talk about ‘Death and Dying’.  Come to one or come to them all.  Join in with a group of honest, friendly people who are insightful and engaging. For more detailed information click HERE.

“Wendy’s course is so full and rich. There’s so much to learn about the practicals of the life journey, and to uncover the deep learnings that come from within. All in all – a very special uncovering of how it just might feel if you are given an ‘end date’. I’m so grateful to be part of this group.” Julie Weston – Celebrant, Australia

“The program and Wendys presence and guidance have benefited my life, relationships and decisions profoundly! I am 22 years old  and I have learned so much about myself and my desires, perceptions and deepened the connection with myself and others. Because I started talking about death, suffering and disconnection with my family, friends and colleagues they got really curious and also inspired. I love the gatherings and practices that brought me back to myself and supported me to speak and listen from my heart – being authentic and present. Talking about death during the sessions, I have started feeling more and more alive and intensified my relationships.” (Elisa, Student, Germany)

 

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