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.
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.
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:
Inspiring Funeral and Memorial Services o
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.
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)