Frankly, it is really unhelpful that we are brought up in a culture that simply ‘doesn’t want to think about it’. so, quite often we don't.... and if we don't think about it it won't happen, right? Well... we know that sadly this isn't the case and when death looks you or your family or your friend straight in the eye, 'it' gives you no choice but to think about it and we are ill prepared.
And yet we were all born and we will all die, so why oh why are we not taught how to deal with the inevitable as a normal part of life? Why does it have to be a sordid, dark, ugly subject? This whole approach (or lack of) makes death acutely more frightening for everyone involved, and whilst we do not generally invite our life to end, we can take back control of our relationship to the process.
I am a funeral celebrant and yes that means that I am in the business of death but I will say explicitly now, I am not in this arena for money, I am not in it as a strategic career move and I genuinely would not want you to use my services as your celebrant if I was not a good match for you and vice versa, I respect this life junction far too much to ‘hard sell’. I simply want to do my absolutely darned best for you... be true to the person whose life we are celebrating and present their authentic life story and capture their unique essence.
I became a celebrant because I wanted to continue my lifelong love of helping people when they most need it. To make sense of that statement, I have worked with the most vulnerable children, young people and families for 25 years. I have supported young people through involvement with gangs, drugs, prostitution, suicide attempts, exclusion, the Care System, prison sentences with abusive parents, bereavement, loss of everything, and worked with every community including refugees, asylum seekers and victims of hate crime.
The list of people I have worked with is extensive and as a professional artist and poet I have also been able to weave in creativity to help therapeutically with those facing extremely distressing situations. Being able to work with people at their most vulnerable is a privilege and supporting people when someone they love has died is a position of huge responsibility that I take very seriously and am told that I have made a big difference, which is the best positive affirmation.
So, yes...let’s talk about death, we need to and it is actually quite liberating. I have worked with people with life limiting conditions who want to plan their own service, this is often something the family of the person struggles to do, I had the honour of a family member requesting I help them to plan their own service, yes it was at the time a bit overwhelming BUT I felt so incredibly honoured that I had been called upon to support someone with something so uniquely personal and important. It was at that point I realised how empowering this was for a person and not only did I want to help, I would give it my blooming everything.
To be able to take the strategic lead on the planning and delivery of your own grand finale IS powerful, to have control when it feels like the rest of your life is being controlled via external means is important, so yes, I would be honoured to plan your funeral or Life Celebration WITH you.
Some people may even want a Living Funeral, where the star of the show is actually in attendance, such beautiful words are spoken posthumously, that to be able to witness and hear these tributes must be incredibly profound and comforting, and for those remaining on mothers earth, they can be comforted by the knowledge their feelings have been planted firmly in the heart and soul of their loved one.
Really what I am saying is I want to serve families and individuals by responding to who they are, in an appropriate way.
We are not a homogenous lump, we are individuals with differing belief systems, lifestyles, tastes and cultural heritage. We are a blended society and no two people are the same, so why do we think only one type of funeral, wedding or other celebration should fit our particular shape? It generally doesn’t and people may feel let down.
There are no limits to how you should celebrate life events, beyond formal registration of death (and marriage) and the options are huge. Even if you chose to have a simple cremation you can have the service anywhere you want, in your garden, a park, the seaside, anywhere that is freely available in our environment or bookable is do-able.
If you want a service in a crematorium (or cemetary) the service can consist of whatever you want. Don’t like religion? You do not have to have religion, just want a little bit of religion or want to include differing beliefs and lifestyles…no problem at all. You can cartwheel to your loved ones favourite song if you want, Dress the casket in root vegetables or handbags if representative, do what feels absolutely right and proper for your loved person.
But, be sure to use the right kind of celebrant. I am an independent civil celebrant, as such all the above fits my role, if you want purely religious service in a church or religious building please ask for a religious minister of the appropriate faith.
For myself and other CIVIL celebrants, do read about them, do they sound like someone you could relate to, do you like them? will they spend a couple of hours hearing your stories? Will they write a totally PERSONALISED service? will they send you the draft copy? do they encourage your involvement? Will they 'get' your family and include any important cultural factors?
If you would like to book myself or any other civil celebrant you have seen, ask your funeral director to contact me/them asap. If you want organise a DIY funeral or find out more check out http://www.naturaldeath.org.uk/ and please, feel very welcome to look at my website, I am happy to chat with you via email or phone without obligation.
If you would like to meet to plan your own funeral I am very happy to visit you in the comfort of your own environment . I am very flexible and aim to accomodate your needs.
Please do share this with your friends, not just to promote me but to promote choice and information. With respect and love Colleen Allen 07999 987 985 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hertfordshirecelebrant.com