In the last year I have conducted all manner of funerals.
There have been the timely deaths of beloved people where the ceremony has been one of quiet, or raucous, celebration of a life lived to the full and ended peacefully.
There have been tragic deaths through suicide and illness, where the person has been snatched from those that love them in a way that is cruel and heartless. A cold, bleak time when all you can do is hug the pain into some sort of temporary submission.
There have been slow lingering departures where there has been time to prepare and say goodbye, to plan the ending and to tie up all the loose ends, so to speak.
I have been in awe of the dignity and composure of both those leaving and those being left. The stories that I have had the honour of retelling. The poignant words written by children about their Grandparents. The gut twisting pain of listening to a husband talk of his wife and what she meant to him.
The keepsakes that I have had pressed into my hand as a reminder of a person that I barely knew in reality but who have become so real through the anecdotes and photos, scrapbooks and these enchanting treasures that I will keep safe forever.
It is a challenge sometimes to find the words that fit the person and as I become a little more experienced I find the confidence to go to strange places to garner the flavours that you need to make that person live again, albeit briefly, in the ceremonies that I deliver.
It is almost like following a recipe book with no pictures and no real understanding of the taste of the dishes that you have been asked to cook until you reach the end. A soupcon of this and a pinch of that. Balancing the sweet and the sour, giving a twist to the dish that creates a pop of flavour that will linger on the palate. A note that will allow the mourners to say – you captured my loved one, you really got him!
Choosing the poetry is so rewarding, when you get it right, and so frustrating when you cannot find the words that say it just so. I find time and again that the poetry of childhood is most fitting. There is comfort in the familiar and the rhythm and cadence of the words is like a blanket, cuddling you up in the warmth of happier times.
Amongst the group of friends that work along side, The U K Society of Celebrants; there is a talent for language and a wealth of experience that is freely shared. We are becoming a force to be reckoned with – a truly alternative way of supporting the community through the compassionate delivery of first class ceremonies. I am proud to be one of them.