Caroline provides tailored Funeral Services, both semi-religious and non-religious, or those with a more spiritual nature, that are in keeping with the bereaved family's beliefs and ideals. I came across this remarkable young lady on social media...and am frequently deeply moved by her inspiring comments.
With such a caring nature, which comes through in abundance in her article below, Caroline is perfectly suited for the celebrant's role. Caroline...over to you.
It is not enough to write and deliver a funeral service for a grieving family…you must love them too. This is my philosophy and that is how I approach my work and vocation as a Funeral Celebrant.
When I was 23 years old my mother died. My beautiful, strong, gentle, wise universe of a mother and I was the one whose arms she died in when she collapsed at home in the middle of the night.
She’d been diagnosed with cancer three months before and I had been in denial until that moment; until I had to be gentle and calm; acknowledging that she was about to die and all I could do was love her through it.
My intention is that every single family I serve is held softly and with empathy. I may not understand ‘their’ grief but I do know how crushing grief is and I care very, very deeply about their pain. I offer guidance and strength but allow them to have as much creative control as they need because I truly believe that the ceremony belongs to them. I am simply the middle ground, the one who is there to shape this goodbye into one that they want and do not wish to take possession of it.
Beliefs And Wishes Of The Family
The services I offer therefore are centred around the beliefs and wishes of the family. My beliefs don’t come into it because it’s not about me. This then enables me to write and lead a service that has no reference to religion or spirituality whatsoever. I am happy too to write and lead a service with more of a spiritual nature woven throughout, to also speak of God, say prayers and hold the image of heaven for the family. Either way, I ensure that each service is written individually and is as unique as the life it is celebrating and remembering; each one being filled with care. Equally, they will reflect the life and character of the loved one and there’s no reason why their funniest stories can’t be shared, with laughter just a much a part of their goodbye as tears.
But being a celebrant is not as simple as writing a few words and delivering them with fluidity to a congregation of mourners. It goes much deeper than that and it begins at the first meeting with the family. This first step requires intuition without assumption and an ability to listen to what is not being said as much as what is. The celebrant also must be able to sit with all different types of loss and grief, holding the family in whatever way they need to be held, through whatever bereavement they are having to endure. It could be the expected loss of an elderly parent, a son killed suddenly on his motorbike, a suicide, a baby. All are incredibly different and each will hold their own challenges.
Opportunity For Healing
Especially when you find yourself in the middle of a domestic warzone where no one agrees and you are having to be the mediator and diplomat amongst a bitter estrangement. There could potentially be years of bad feeling and hurt held within a family’s history and during a time like this it can all erupt. Yet you must treat all with care, all with understanding and try to find ways to ensure the service is, if anything, an opportunity for healing. Sometimes it’s not possible.
This is why a celebrant must work from the heart first and foremost, and be a good public speaker second. Whilst delivering the service, to rely on public speaking skills alone – without use of empathic tone or expression – will make the service feel insincere or scripted. Yet sounding over familiar about a person you have never met can be just as insincere. It’s all about balance and knowing when to perhaps lift the mood with a humorous memory the family has asked to be shared whilst maintaining the undercurrent of a very heartfelt reverence for what it is you are doing.
There is heartbreak, pain and hurt always, and this must be met and acknowledged in a way that is right for the individual family.
My approach to this work and vocation as a celebrant and as a member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants, is always very much heart-based and I feel truly blessed to be able to help others in this way. In fact it has helped to heal my own grief. If I can stop one bereaved individual from ever having to wish that their loved one’s goodbye was different, then there is my purpose. And my beautiful mother didn’t die in vain.
Caroline's Family Celebrant website: http://www.westmidlandcelebrant.co.uk/