Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Funeral Blog

Thursday, 28 January 2016

An honour and a privilege.........

I am on the eve of a very special funeral; a 3 1/2 month baby girl.

I am not great at the whole social media thingy, and not felt like blogging for a while but tonight, I wanted to share something.

Last night, I had the final meeting pre funeral with a very young couple who are preparing to say goodbye to their baby daughter.  For me, this has been the most challenging ceremony I have ever been asked to write and perform.  It tested my professionalism and emotional stability when confronted with such pain and anguish.

At our first meeting, the mother was barely able to speak and all I could see was the pain in her heart through her vacant eyes.  Her partner busied himself with meaningless things to occupy his mind to avoid having to talk.

I had to advise them of the things they needed to consider for the funeral and i had to tread carefully and gently, taking time to just be in their presence and at times not speaking.  Just holding the silence.

Then last night, visiting them to go over the final ceremony details, I was amazed at what I encountered.

I walked into a home filled with love, hope and gratitude..

The mother had created the most amazing floral covered arch with all their friends and family,  tying items on it that meant something to them i.e. hand made flowers, bags of incense, butterflies, dream catchers and much more. I have asked if I may have a photo of it as it really was a wonderful sight.

But the thing that struck me the most was that in doing all this, this young couple have channeled all their love and energy into giving their daughter a magical, fairy tale ending which has helped them with their grief.

The vacant look in the mothers eyes has gone and been replaced with a sense of purpose and love. The father was writing his own song and music and again, you can see the intent in his eyes and can feel he feels he is doing something worthwhile.

When talking to them, they had come to terms with their loss through all the things they had created, poems, songs, the arch, their own flowers and a booklet for the order of service.  It gave them time to reflect on how grateful they had been in having their little angel in their life even thought it was for such a short time.

One of the things they wrote was 'We were blessed for having you in our lives even thought the time we had was way too short.  Those who live a long time have to face sadness, fear, betrayal and anger.  But, in your lifetime, all you knew was love'   I think this must have given them some comfort.

There is no real purpose for sharing this but it was a really beautiful thing to see and experience and I suppose, its good to share the beautiful as well as the difficult. I know tomorrow at the funeral will be very difficult but I hope this process has helped them come to terms with such a difficult loss.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Civil Celebrant / My ABC of marriage

My 'C' of Marriage........

C is for compliments, cuddles, captivating, celebrating, caring, charming, comfortable, confident, congenial, conscious, contentment, cosy, co-operative...

...and then the shadow side could be cold-hearted, confused, contradictory, cruel, calculating, careless, chaotic, cheerless, cranky...

I do have to laugh when I read  the shadow side when I think back to my marriage....yep can relate more to them than the positive......sadly!.

When we get married, especially us girlies, we have this vision of love conquering all.  That regardless of what life was like before, it will be okay or better now.  We have the man (or woman), the house, the nice furniture, perhaps a new car, then the children, the dog and so on.  Oh and the roses around the door.......or was that just me?

We look forward to the cosy nights in snuggled up on the sofa, sharing the remote control, and who gets up to make the tea or pour the wine.  We believe that no matter how rough we look, no make-up, hair not done, perhaps a little dribble of wine down our front, our mate will still look at us with shining eyes and say how beautiful we are.....Does it happen like that?  Well maybe for a few weeks or months or maybe even a year or so if we are lucky! 

Why does that happen; why do we stop snuggling up on the sofa together, you sit here and they sit over there...why do we feel more self conscious if we haven't put a bit of slap on or have the remnants of last nights curry on our cuff?  Life.  We get back into living our life amongst the rest of the world. Our little bubble of bliss is popped and we start to be affected but everyone around us......friends, family, TV magazines.  

How often do you hear people commenting on how soppy it is to snuggle on the sofa.....how many times do you hear your mate talking about 'cor, did you see that sort down the pub or on TV.........You become more conscious of 'outside' .......what a shame that is.

We fall in love and believe we will love our mate for the rest of time,  and that should be the case, but too often we let outside influences affect us.  If only we could stay in our bubble for a while longer, how different life would be.....perhaps.  Nice thought.  I would love to have stayed in my bubble a little longer but hey ho.........it burst on the wedding night I think !

I love the idea of love, and its not something to be taken lightly, we do have to work at it; we have to continue working at it from the begging to the end because it is something that is ever evolving, every day we change, every day. our lives are changing, nothing stands still.  Everything worth having, it worth working for. But perhaps we need to remind ourselves why we are doing it, why we should keep working at it with each other, remember why we got together in the first place.  Because, we could not imagine life without that person, that they were how we see our future.

“Dr. Dorothy Tennov, a psychologist, has done long-range studies on the in-love phenomenon. After studying scores of couples, she concluded that the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years.” 
― Gary ChapmanThe Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Civil Celebrant / My ABC of marriage

My 'B' of Marriage...

B is for beneficial, benefit, beloved, blessed, bliss, blissful, balance, benevolent, blooming, bighearted, brave, buoyant, beautiful, belong and belonging, bliss on tap!

...there has to be be the opposite to know the positive so the shadow side could be belligerent, boring, broken, badgered, baffled, beaten down, belittled, betrayed, bizarre, blamed, bleak, brushed off, bullied, brushed off.

Well that was harder than I thought but I bet other letters will be more difficult!.  

I had been racking my brains on how or what to blog about so thought this idea was pretty ingenious if not original. I then had to decide was I to be sensible and professional or should I let me natural sense of humor let rip.............and then I recalled my tutors words telling me to let it flow.......it was him that suggested a picture of Jessica Rabbit on my home page!! Honest it was!

So here we are at the letter B of marriage!  Well for me Marriage is baffling!  I have always thought marriage as something for life because I was fortunate to have my parents together until death pulled them apart.  I see how there lives were intertwined so there was no beginning or end to them as individuals but they blended as one.

Isn't it strange that we fall in love with someone who is totally different from us but then somehow, unwittingly and perhaps unconsciously try to mold them into something else..........you know what I mean.  

So you have always folded the towels long ways with any pattern showing on the outside, but they just hang it anyway.........so you moan and try to get them to do it your way. Then there is the toothpaste, you put the lid on, they leave it off so the toothpaste oozes out onto the window cill.......disgusting!. And of course the ever eternal argument over the toilet seat......jeez, why is it soooo difficult for someone to remember to put the damm thing down!

Of course the longer you live alone, the more these things are an issue for some people but does it really matter, honestly?  It shouldn't but it does cause cracks to appear in a relationship! Well that's the polite version of the emotion....but if we just put those things aside, the small things, and look at the bigger picture, marriage can be a true partnership, a meeting of minds.

Lets face it we are animals, well,  we are,,,,,,,,just two legged ones but still part of the animal kingdom and we always thrive when we are in pairs.........so why is it so difficult to ignore the small irritations of living together in one house as partners.....answers on a postcard please.

Love, Marriage, Partnerships are precious and should be nurtured and appreciated but it appears in many circumstances to be just something that we do.......not what we have.  I am still looking for my knight in shining armour but after two husbands..........no I must stop saying two.......I still don't count 7 weeks as a real marriage, it was just a ceremony and a few weeks of bliss after....but the one thing I have learnt is that next time I will ignore the little things and look at the bigger picture.

“Love doesn't keep a score of wrongs. Love doesn't bring up past failures. None of us is perfect. In marriage we do not always do the right thing. We have sometimes done and said hurtful things to our spouses. We cannot erase the past. We can only confess it and agree that it was wrong. We can ask for forgiveness and try to act differently in the future. Having confessed my failure and asked forgiveness, I can do nothing more to mitigate the hurt it may have caused my spouse. When I have been wronged by my spouse and she has painfully confessed it and requested forgiveness, I have the option of justice or forgiveness. If I choose justice and seek to pay her back or make her pay for her wrongdoing, I am making myself the judge and her the felon. Intimacy becomes impossible. If, however, I choose to forgive, intimacy can be restored. Forgiveness is the way of love.” 
― Gary ChapmanThe Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Civil Celebrant / My ABC of marriage

I just had a brainwave, well more of a flutter really....I was just reading some great articles from various sources about their views on Marriage and it got me to thinking what mine were! But not to bore the eyes off you, I am going to do it letter by letter.........so here goes...

My 'A' of marriage

A is for awesome, acceptance, adorable, agreeable, adaptability, appreciation, attentiveness, authenticity, attraction, affectionate, aroused (ooer Mrs might be a little risque there) admirable, abundance and phew, finally accommodating.   Oh, ok, lets put one more in there, appreciative!

...then there is the shadow side of A in a marriage........Angry, apathy, annoying, abandoned, addicted, aggravated, alone, anguish, apprehensive, argumentative, artificial, avoided, awkward.  

The way I see it, being married twice, well actually, I should say once really as the second time doesn't really count, unless you can still call 7 weeks a marriage?  Humm I will let you decide on that one.  Marriage is something you don't just 'do'.  You have the wedding, you get the marriage certificate....then you have to make the marriage a working partnership.,  

I know today, so many people live together before getting married so its not like it was years ago when you didn't know what to expect once you signed on the dotted line.  At least now, we know exactly what we are getting, the good and the not so good.  However, what we have perhaps forgotten is how to work at it,  Its almost like, OK, lets have a BIG wedding, invite everyone we have ever known through our life. move back into our house as a 'proper' couple and that's it......

Actually that's when a marriage has to begin.......right there.  It is a work in progress.  And lets be honest, it can be difficult.  Any relationship is difficult but in a marriage, you have made a commitment to stay together through thick and thin.......until death do us part.....or whatever your take is on that.  We can never stand still and say, ok, I have him, or her......that's the easy bit.

The part that makes it a marriage, is when you become partners in all things.  You support one another in each others own interests, not feel threatened by them; you allow them freedom to be who they were when you met them, not try to mold them into what you wished they were.  You become friends not just lovers; you respect one another for who they are as individuals and learn how to communicate on the level of which the other communicates.  

I was given a book (a bit late!) called The five Love Languages; How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate and it was really interesting because it makes you realise that what makes sense to you when you say something or do something, will not always makes sense to your partner if their language is different. For example, if you are the one who can say I Love You easily but your partner isn't, and all (!) they do is something such as,  run a bath for you when you come home........you might be feeling less loved because they don't say it but the partner, running the bath in preparation for you, could for them, be their expression of love......you need to read the book!

An extract from the book......
“Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse's perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement. With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, "I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?" We are trying to show that we believe in him and in his abilities. We are giving credit and praise.” 
― Gary ChapmanThe Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

So my 'A' suggestions today are ......
1. Always make your relationship your top priority....nothing is more important than each others happiness.
2. Ask questions, be interested in each others days, thoughts, desires.
3. Act with Grace, that is to say act with civility, decency, respect and courtesy withing your relationship.
4. Accept each other for who you are not what you want them to be
and finally..........my tongue in cheek suggestions is...
5. Always look on the bright side of life de dum de dum de dum............

Monday, 6 October 2014

Civil Celebrant / My Mission Miss Moneypenny

What an earth is a celebrant!!!  You know, there is not even a category for my job title on any of the drop down options when you are applying for anything on line and they want to know what you do for a living.  When I phone the company up and say there is no category for me,they just tell me to click anything!!  Well that makes the relevance of clicking on what you do really important then!

I love the question though, but I bet the person asking it wishes that hadn't asked......well its an opportunity to enlighten them and then bamboozle them with the importance of my job! Most people to be honest, are interested and I would love a £1 for every time someone has said, 'oh I wish I had known about celebrants before, it would have saved me so much hassle when organizing my 'deceased persons' funeral'.  

How on earth do we, the ever growing band of  celebrant,s get the word out of what we do? I don't mind saying what I do but it would be nice occasionally for someone to say 'oh yes, that's an interesting job or, oh yes, we used one of you lot at our funeral/wedding/renewal of vows/naming ceremony!  But as yet, its not happened, so my conclusion is......we are the best kept secret in the country today or it is where I live in Kent!
So my mission, Miss Moneypenny, is to go where no celebrant has gone before and spearhead the fight to be recognized and understood..........!

How am I going to do that I hear you ask?  Well that is top secret for now but just know like my counterpart James........I will leave no stone un-turned, no door un-knocked and no wedding planner out in the cold!

Watch out Kent, 007's sidekick, 001 3/4 is on the move...........to go where no celebrant has dared to go before....

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Civil Celebrant Muses / Loving My Job!!

I was talking to a group of ladies recently about my change of career.  They could not get their head around why, I would give up a very successful job in sales, where I got to travel, meet amazing successful entrepreneurs, and, make lots of money into the bargain!!

So, I tried to explain how and why I had done it.  Why I had exchanged all of that, for something which on the face it seems like I had opted out!  Well I did......but why did I exchange all of that, for something like this...........and for some, they just didn't get it.  I have exchanged all of 'that' for this because I feel privileged to do this work which is more valuable than all the money in the world.  I will never be rich financially doing this work but I will definitely be more fulfilled as a person.

Funerals - to be entrusted with the last conversation about a loved one is a true honour.  I get to bring out all the best memories from everyone and weave them into a true reflection of the  life lived, to create a lasting memory of that persons last moments here in this physical world.

Weddings and Renewal of Vows - I love them because it is so easy to to bring joy and laughter into a ceremony because that is what it is.......a time of joy and true happiness.  It also allows our imagination to let fly with the love that is with everyone........there are no limits to joy and happiness!

Naming Ceremonies - well, I am surrounded by babies and children...whats better than that...?

But without a doubt, Funerals are ceremonies where every emotion can be present and has to be so carefully and respectfully considered when creating the perfect ceremony for everyone.  We have to take into account so many factors, religious beliefs, (and being a Civil Celebrant I can weave religion in or not), emotions, relationships, characters and so much more.  It has to be done with the utmost respect and professionalism.  I love the challenge of creating a word perfect, fitting ceremony.  I can do this because I listen, I observe and I want to do the best for all those involved.

After I have delivered a Funeral Ceremony, and see completion on the faces of the congregation, I know, I have done my job well.......I created that Lasting Memory!

What price can you put on that.........human compassion, love and respect;  there is no price just personal satisfaction.