Approaching any milestone event such as Christmas or a birthday can be incredibly poignant when you have lost a loved one. In the first of our three part series asking, “What is grief?”, one brave Celebrant shares an intensely moving account of her own personal experience of grief twenty years on. This is my grief? Grief is described in the dictionary as intense sorrow especially caused by someone’s death.  That it may be but until it is your grief you have no idea of the intensity of grief, what it is or why it is happening.  Life is a blur.  Grief is an emotion – an emotion no one wants to choose. Grief is a place – it is a…

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In the final part of our trilogy considering different aspects of grief, one experienced funeral Celebrant in Spain looks at death and dying overseas. Read on for a very personal account full of advice on how to die well abroad. My reasons for becoming a funeral Celebrant In 2004 my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal Cancer.  She died aged 63 on 5 November 2005 at 11.55pm she loved fireworks and the noise outside the hospice in Hackney where she died was deafening.  To this day I still say she chose that day to die so we would remember – she knows how bad I am with dates! Whilst she was in the hospice we planned her funeral, she…

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WHAT IS A ‘CELEBRATION OF LIFE CEREMONY’? What does the phrase ‘Celebration of Life Ceremony’ mean exactly? Simply put, it’s a type of funeral ceremony which pays tribute to a loved one, acknowledges their death, but most importantly does what it says on the tin – it celebrates their life, their accomplishments, their achievements, their wins. What types of funeral are there? There are mainly three types of funeral services, which are usually officiated by a religious minister, a humanist, or a celebrant. A traditional funeral service is normally held in a church or religious building and is officiated by a religious minister.   Some religious ceremonies apply the rules of their religion to the letter, whereas some may be a…

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So what exactly does a Funeral Celebrant do? One Independent Celebrant gives a brief overview of what a Funeral Celebrant does and why they are such a valuable asset for families when facing what is undoubtedly the most difficult challenge anyone has to undertake; arrange a funeral. How do Families and Funeral Celebrants Connect? A lot of Celebrants will be introduced to families by the Funeral Director.  What is not so well known however, is families do not have to take the person recommended to them by the Funeral Director, they can choose whoever they feel will be most sympathetic to their wishes.  At the end of the day; when a couple are planning their wedding, they will decide who…

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Fall is a time of rebirth and reconnection. For many of us, the falling leaves and the transformation of colours are a soothing and welcome entry into the colder months. However, when faced with an autumn funeral, we can quickly forget all about these beautiful, tranquil features. Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration for funeral services. In this blog, Celebrant Rosalie shares her top five ideas to personalise an autumn funeral. Personalising a funeral can be a cathartic way to say goodbye to a loved one in a unique and meaningful way. There are many things we can take advantage from within the changing seasons to add to this gentle sense of personalisation. What unique ideas can you use…

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Why are more and more people attending their own funeral? The trend towards ‘Living Funerals’ speaks to our growing willingness to speak openly about death. One celebrant gives her advice and support for those of us looking to move away from tradition, actually attend our own funeral in order to celebrate our own life and achievements where death is no longer a prerequisite! Moving away from tradition Over the last few years both celebrants and funeral directors have seen more people moving away from traditional religious ceremonies towards the unconventional with funerals and memorial ceremonies conducted in woods, on beaches, in gardens and other more unconventional places. Simplicity Funerals Often individuals are choosing a lower cost option such as a…

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Part one of What is grief?  shared a very personal account of grief. In the second of our three part series investigating grief, one very experienced Celebrant looks at how children handle bereavement and explains how to be age appropriate when helping a grieving child. Golden rule of grief: be guided by the child Children differ in their capacity to understand grief depending on their age and maturity. Babies and small children lack the words for their grief but still feel it. Toddlers and the under 5s will take time to form a consistent understanding of death. This means that they may swing back and forth between understanding and not understanding. Be prepared for this, and to answer the same…

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‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.’ – C S Lewis Interview with David Linaker, a former Anglican priest who, having moved outside of the formal faith environment, offers families a powerful partnership in helping them to say their goodbyes in their way, with or without religious content. David is here to talk to us about how to get through the day of the funeral emotionally. He passes on his experience and knowledge as a long-serving Celebrant. So take it away David:  In nearly 53 years of attending or leading funeral services, I’ve experienced and witnessed the spectrum of human emotion. The death of someone close to us is bound to elicit all sorts of emotional…

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Deciding whether or not to take a child to a funeral service is an extremely personal decision. It’s only natural to be concerned that your child will become bored, restless or even disrupt others during the service. We understand there are often reservations about how to get them involved so our top funeral celebrants give you the ideas you need in order to understand the best ways to involve children into the funeral.   Involving children in a celebration of life There are plenty of ways in which a child can be involved during both the funeral preparations and the service itself. Even if you decide against bringing your child on the day, including them in any of these activities can…

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In the same way that wedding couples are increasingly looking to find more personal ways of tying the knot, families in the UK are also beginning to seek out alternative options for funerals. Handy resources such as ‘The Good Funeral Guide’ are helping people to better understand the choices they have available to them. Equipped with fresh knowledge, and a feeling of empowerment, people are beginning to realise that they can have the funeral they want, and in-fact, that they themselves can take on the role of ‘funeral director’. There is no law that requires us in the UK to use an undertaker, nor is there any legal obligation to hold a funeral. We have become accustomed, over many generations,…

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We don’t talk about death so it has become unfamiliar Funeral ceremonies can serve different purposes for those involved. One function of a ceremony is to contain (accept and help to manage) distress and insecurity, and to signal a change. But, who is the funeral for? The departed or those in mourning? Difficulties can be created when this becomes and either/or choice. In fact, funerals are for both the dead and for the living. Compromise can be key. If funerals are for the living as well as for the dead, what happens for the friends and family of the deceased at a funeral? In describing funerals, it is easy to airbrush out or to gloss over some of the difficulties that…

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“I am not sure if I should take my children to the funeral. What do you think?” It’s a question parents often ask me as a funeral celebrant. In this article, I will explain why attending a funeral can be a healthy, healing and positive experience for children. I will also provide some advice and ideas on how to prepare young children for a funeral and how to include them. Should children attend funerals? For many families, taking a child to a funeral is the natural thing to do.  However, according to the British Social Attitudes Survey 2017 26% of British people do not believe children should attend funerals. They believe children should not be exposed to a coffin, that…

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