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Jan
19

Saying Goodbye - Your way. Act Now

Saying Goodbye – Your way

 

funeral-lily

Act Now before your final Goodbye.

When families are confronted with trying to prepare the funeral, shock and grief can make it very difficult to remember those things that they need to know about “Mum” or “Dad”!  Generally your children look upon you as only their parent, not from any other perspective.  So the other compartments of your life, as a lover, partner, friend, student, teacher, mentor, work colleague, employer, team player, sports person, voluntary worker, etc, etc, are not fully appreciated or understood. 

The same can be said for your life experiences and their context.  All this information is needed to prepare a fitting life tribute that will do justice to a person’s life as a whole. 

So when is the best time to get started?  Now – none of us know when our time is up!

So what can you do to start this process?  Meet with your local independent Funeral Celebrant to discuss your funeral ceremony and the way you would like to say goodbye to your loved ones.

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Jan
16

Personalise the Funeral

funeral_flowers_200

Are you in the midst of arranging a funeral?  Are you feeling overwhelmed right now?  There are so many details that must be attended to.  So many decisions to be made, people to contact and this is while you are feel so raw from your loss.

Take a deep breath, slow down, – pause for a moment and then focus on what is important – honouring the person lost to you.  Each of us is unique and special in our own ways and when planning a funeral it is important to honour that unique life and relate the impact that life had on family and friends.

So how do you do this?

Consider the unique life of the person who died.

Write a list of the following:

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Nov
28

Challenges can be opportunities

Abstract-Floral-Butterfly-200As Funeral Celebrants we are constantly faced with challenges.  They may be minor; they may be major; how we, as professional celebrants, approach and react to these challenges (or should I say opportunities) will impact on the Funeral Service.

Recently I was asked to conduct a Cremation Service for an elderly gentleman, whose wife is in a Nursing Home suffering from dementia.  They have no known family – they were a very private couple who married in their late 50’s.  What do you say?  How do you approach the ceremony?  What theme would I underpin the ceremony with?

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Nov
12

Understanding differences while Saying Goodbye

The celebration of a Life is an opportunity to say goodbye, honour, celebrate, say thank you and give meaning to a person’s life.  As we are all different and unique each of us merits a ceremony that recognises our lives’ strengths, weakness and achievements and our beliefs.

No matter what your personal beliefs are, you, as the Funeral Celebrant, should honour, celebrate and give meaning to the person’s life in a manner appropriate to them.  This sometimes involves research into their beliefs and putting aside your own personal beliefs.

Recently I needed to research funerals in various faiths so I could prepare Celebrations that did not offend any of the family members while at the same time acknowledged deceased’s deeply held Christian beliefs. 

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Jul
28

A Day of Hope

Birth-coming-age-cover-BW-250A Day of Hope

Recently I visited a young family who had lost their second son at 3 months; he had caught a virus at 6 days and 11 weeks later he passed away, at home, surrounded by his loving family.  The family had contacted me to conduct his Memorial service on Monday 19th August. 

The family is having a pagoda constructed in the backyard and planting a Japanese maple beside it during the Memorial Service and the mulch will be stones with messages from family and friends loving placed.  A visual reminder of their son’s life. So I thought that they chose this date as the construction would be complete by then.

Asking why this particular day, I was told “this is a Day of Hope, and we wish to support this initiative by Carly Marie.  Check out the website www.carlymarieprojectheal.com.au.” When I arrived home I checked this webpage. 

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Jul
25

Straight down the middle

Straight down the middle was where Tony could hit the ball. He loved his golf and he was a happy, fun-loving man who, before Alzimiers took its toll, did everything with passion, zeal and enthusiasm especially when it came to his golf!  When I was asked to conduct the celebration of his life service, by my friend his wife, I was proud to be given this honour and accepted.  Many of Tony's long-term friends live overseas so it was not expected to be a large gathering and his family did not want 'a fuss!' as for several years he had lived in a nursing home in his own enclosed world.  

What can you say?  What verses do you use?  What music do you play?

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Jul
08

What music do You play?

 

What Music do You play?

 

Death of a loved one is a difficult and stressful time for families; there seems so much to arrange on top of the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one. 

A funeral is a time of loss but also a time to commemorate life and music can and does play a vital role within the service to expression feelings, to enunciate emotions, prompt memories and to offer messages of hope and eternal love.  For centuries music has formed a very important part of rituals and ceremonies and by using music in a meaningful manner can assist family and friends with the grieving and mourning process.

 

Once you have spoken to your Funeral Celebrant and developed the Order of Service, what poems, verses or prayers you have selected to achieve the mood you wish for then consider the music.  What music do you feel will reflect the life of your loved one, what will honour them and commemorate their life in a fitting way. 

 

The music chosen is a very personal choice; you may wish to play a song loved by the deceased person, or a song that will bring hope or offer inspiration to the mourners, a song that will lighten the mood and bring smiles to all.  Music can be a selected that will remind family and friends of time spent with the departed, or because they will evoke memories of happy times spent together or because the deceased just ‘loved that song.’ As I wrote earlier: a very personal choice. 

 

Funeral songs fall into mainly three categories – Hymns, classical or popular music.  The lyrics of a song can also help to remind us of a loved one, or describe the life of the deceased or the emotions being felt by all those present.  Listen to the lyrics, or read them and see if they express the emotions, feeling or mood that you want to achieve with the music. 

 

If you are having difficulties consult your Funeral Celebrant, they are experienced and they can help you with suggestions to make your Funeral service a ceremony that reflects the life of your loved one in the manner you want.

 

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Jun
30

Symbols to honour your loved one - What is important?

What is Important!! How do you summarise a life in a few minutes?  What symbols would you use for a loved one to represent their life?

I recently conducted a ceremony in celebration of a Mum, Grandma, Great Grandma, and lovely Lady and the family used the following to give a visual interpretation of her life.

Symbols of importance were placed on her coffin before we commenced the service and during the service I explained their significance.   

  • The White Teddy Bear was given to her years ago when she had a stroke and went to hospital; she took with her when she left her home to live with her son and daughter in law and it accompanied her to the Nursing Home and hospital
  • ‘A girl has to look her best at all times!’ so she has her manicure set and make up with her for that quick touch-up
  • wedding_cakeShe was renowned as a wonderful cook and the family told me that you never entered her kitchen without being offered a cuppa, as the billy was always on the boil and fresh homemade cake or slices available. She also made many Celebration cakes for family and friends.  The cakes and recipe book symbolise her love of cooking, catering and her love of making Celebration cakes.
  • She could sew – she made many wedding, bridesmaids, debutant gowns, and every day and special outfits for family and friends – the Sewing items are to symbolise this ability to turn a piece of material into something special.
  • Knitting needles, wool and pattern – whether it is a cardigan or jumper knitted in cable, birdsf oot, or lace stitch, or preparing for that new child in the family with a matinee jacket or layette, she could be relied upon to produce a wonderful knitted article. “How can knitting be wasting time? I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch.  You aren't wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” Stephanie Pearl-McPhee said these words and I am sure that your loved one would agree.
  • Bottle of Water “Water Please”- this is from the time that she was not allowed any water while in hospital when all she wanted was “water please.”
  • The Birthday candle – given to her by daughter on her last birthday – ‘One day this light from this candle will disperse the darkness that we presently perceive around us.’

Wonderful symbolism used by the family to acknowledge their loved one.  This theme was also reinforced by her son when speaking of his Mum and by the photos shown of her life. 

A wonderful Mum, Grandma, and Great Grandma who was loved greatly and will be remembered fondly by her family and friends.

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Apr
24

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

25th April Australia remembers.

At the days dawn commemorative services are held across the nation and later ex-servicemen and women meet and march through our towns and cities to the War Memorials where commemorative services are held.  In these ways, ANZAC Day is a time for reflection on the many different meanings of war.

Let us also take time out to remember, support and honour all those fine young men and woman who have served their country in all theatres of war and returned home.  You cannot always see the wounds inflicted in war and today as we bow our heads in silence let us say thank you for the sacrifices made by those who have served.

It is traditional for sprigs of rosemary to be worn on ANZAC Day as this beautiful aromatic herb is found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.  So visit your herb garden, trim the rosemary and share with your family and friends when you remember, honour and support our Servicemen and women.

As they march in time by Janice Woolrych

Remember the ANZAC’s in your hearts

Your thoughts and your prayers

As we share this ANZAC Day

As they march in time.

 

Remember the serving men and woman as you watch

Those gallant veterans march in time.

Left right left, eyes right, eyes front, left right left.

Those veterans grow older and slower

As they march in time.

 

Remember the ANZAC’s….

Remember them in your hearts. 

As they march in time.

Remember those serving  

Left right left ..... as they march in time.

If we remember them,

They will continue to march in time.

Lest We Forget.

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Apr
24

A Circle of Love

A Circle of Love

Naming, celebrating, honouring and welcoming a Child into a family community.

What a wonderful way to spend Easter Saturday morning – with a family of four generations who were together to officially name their baby girl, to celebrate her birth and survival after  a very premature birth, to honour her position in the family and to welcome her into the family circle of love.

A circle has no beginning and no end and to celebrate the family circle connection Abigail worn a Christening Gown made by her great, great great grandmother and there was a direct line to seven of those present who had also worn the gown.  What a wonderful way to pass on the spirit of the family in a tangible way – the circle of family love is never ending.

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Apr
24

What makes a funeral meaningful?

What makes a Funeral meaningful?

For centuries funerals have helped us to say goodbye, to honour, to celebrate and remember those we love.  Funerals can bring together families and friends who offer loving support in our time of greatest need and can offer comfort to those mourning.

A funeral is made up of different parts that when combined make an incredible meaningful experience for you, your family and friends.  It is how you, your family and friends, with the assistance of your Celebrant, combine these components that will make the funeral meaningful.

The major components of a funeral are; music, readings, symbols, committal and eulogy. 

Music – music forms an important part of many social rituals and can be used to access feelings and using music meaningfully in a service helps us to embrace our loss and can form a vital part of the grieving and mourning process.  

Readings – can be selected to capture the unique life and beliefs of the person who has died and can also acknowledge the reality of death; it is quiet appropriate to include humour here if it reflects the personality of your loved one.

Symbols – the main symbols used in funerals are flowers, candles, photos and the coffin.  Flowers represent love and beauty and placing flowers on the coffin is a way to honour the deceased.  The flame of the candle represents the spirit and for some it also represents life’s continuation beyond death.  The presence of the coffin serves as a focus for mourners and helps them recognize and embrace their loss and pain.  Family will often place items on the coffin that relate to the life of the deceased, such as tools of a trade, a fishing rod, war medals, a photo, or sporting memorabilia from their favourite team.

Eulogy – this if often the part that stays with the family and friends long after they have left the funeral and most likely the part to be talked about later.  Don’t be afraid to ask others to assist you in sharing their memories that can be included.  The eulogy acknowledges the unique life and personality of the person who has died and affirms the significance of that life for all who shared it.

Committal – In a chapel service the Committal is the final goodbye – it is the time we honour the dead with respect, honour and dignity.  The curtain closing on the coffin brings a necessary feeling of finality to the service and can be powerful to the family and friends and can assist in the healing process.  If the Committal is graveside it is the final goodbye as you watch the coffin being lowered and it can also be a powerful moment - a moment of quiet reflection, a time to say goodbye.

While each faith and culture have their own variations on the elements of a funeral and incorporating them together with those listed above will make the funeral meaningful while respecting the values and traditions of a particular faith or culture. 

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Apr
14

Saying Goodbye

It is difficult to say goodbye to those we love but options of how we do this are increasing.  Have you thought of an Honouring Ceremony? In our modern society the options of where and how we say goodbye are ever changing.  I recently officiated at a ceremony honouring a much loved mother and grandmother - it was beautiful. 

The Honouring Ceremony was held in a beautiful open chapel within the Cemetery – what a beautiful location with the wind gently caressing the cheeks of her family (it felt like her spirit passing by) and the birds singing in the surrounding trees.  The family decorated the area with symbols in a beautiful tribute to their mother and grandma. 

The Ceremony started with a Candle Lighting in her memory and in memory of all others who had passed away due to cancer as this was very important to the family.  All her grandchildren participated in the Honouring Ceremony doing what they felt comfortable with – their love for the Grandma was obvious.

Before the Committal a verse ‘The Rainbow Bridge’ as recited, it was so appropriate and read beautifully by her Granddaughter.  After the Committal the family and friends covered the coffin with beautiful colourful rose petals – she was in her rainbow.

It was an intimate yet dignified honouring and goodbye to a beloved lady in the manner that she wished and in a manner that they found comfort with.  

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