This year has been especially tough for me, I have had to conduct two funerals. Not just two funerals, but funerals of two people who had an amazing impact on my life. The first was my step-father. My step-father was actually the ‘celebrant’ at my wedding. When I finished my celebrant training, he proceeded to ask me to conduct his funeral, me thinking that it would be years away agreed. When he passed away a large group of our family were all gathered together at the hospital and talk turned to the funeral. I remember thinking, ‘Oh no, I’m really going to have to do this’.
The more I thought about it the more I got used to the idea, and the thought of having someone else do it seemed wrong. One of my relatives asked if I thought that I should do it, because “you’re clearly very upset”, it made me more determined that I would do it and I would make him proud.
It was a healing time, to sit down and write about the life of someone you love, and it made me really look at what he stood for and the things that he was passionate about. I got to see what he meant to so many people and it made me see what he meant to me. Writing his funeral me see him in ways I hadn’t before and reminded me of all the things that I truly loved him for. It made me look at the qualities that I want to see in my own life and look at the lessons that he taught me over the years. It made me feel lucky to have had him in my life.
It was a really hard day, but I felt that it was the one last thing that I could do for him, and I was determined to do it well and make him proud of me.
More recently, my mother in law passed away and in her will she had requested that I be the celebrant at her funeral. This too was one of the toughest things that I have had to do. We had a private funeral with only family, this made things a little easier as I didn’t have to go into the story of her life and tell a lot of stories as everyone that was there knew these things about her. It was at the cemetery at the grave side, I had never been to a funeral like that before let alone performed one that way, but I think that she would have been happy with it. I think it would have been odd if someone else was talking about her, being the only person there who was not part of her family. It was a day that was filled with love and support, it made me more aware of the friends and family that surround us and that are there for us more than we can imagine.
For me she was always a problem solver and the person that I would call if there was a situation that I had where I needed advice, she would stop me doubting decisions that I had made. Just knowing that she was only a phone call away was always comforting and something that I greatly miss, I miss her smile and the sparkle in her eyes.
One thing that the day showed me was that not only was she a shining light to me, but to so many people around her.
For two funerals that were for people that were so close to me, they were both so different. I believe that the funeral should reflect the person, and should be written to reflect their life. The service is about telling the story of who they were and showing people the best of them. After all a funeral is about celebrating the life that they had, and really making sure that the people that are hurting and missing them can smile when they realise just how special the person was.