Let's honour your loved one's story
This time of life is very difficult, and I am very sorry to hear about your loss.
Often when someone passes, we don't get a chance to honour our loved ones in a truly personal way. This makes our times of grief even more painful because impersonal celebrations of life only mark death; they do not mark a person's life. No two people are the same, and no two celebrations of life should be the same.
This is my promise to you: I am not there to summarize your loved one. I'm there to bear witness to their essence and how they impacted our world. People are complex, and we'll honour all facets of their human individuality.
We'll get together when you're ready. Sometimes it will be a day or two after your loved one passes. Sometimes it's a month later, or it could even be a couple of years after they are gone. I will be with you and your family for about two hours: sometimes less, sometimes more. We'll talk a lot. We'll look over photos, and, likely, there will be tears... probably from all of us. And that's okay. We'll sit in silence when we need to, and we'll share everything that needs sharing, too. There's no rush, and there is no pressure "to get things done." We'll figure out who will be speaking at the celebration, what music will be played, and whether or not there is a special way that we'll give tribute. We will make sure that we celebrate all of your loved one's beautiful eccentricities and beliefs.
A funeral service or celebration of life can be many things. We can have a wonderful celebration at a funeral home, in your back yard or living room, by a river or a beach, or on a boat out at sea. Heck -- we can even go up the mountain to a favourite hiking spot! The ceremony can have hundreds of people present... or just two. It can be simple or complex. Honestly, the celebration can be whatever you need.
"No Service By Request"
I have a couple of thoughts about "No service by request." This request by our loved ones often has a few layers. In many ways, it can be an expression of personal insecurity -- even from those we think of as the strongest of people. It can mean: "What if people don't come?"; "I don't want to be a bother"; "I've not accomplished a lot"; "I don't really matter"; or, even "It will cause too much fighting with the kids." "No service by request" can mean many other things, too.
When we host a celebration of life, we are holding it for those grieving. This is very important: Not only do we honour the person who has passed, but we also honour our relationship with them. Whatever that relationship may be. It is part of our healing process to mark our loved one's life. If we have the opportunity to talk with and explain this position to our loved one before they pass, they will often realize how essential a ceremony is. If we didn't get a chance to talk, well, they will likely understand that, too.
Some of you will have special circumstances that bear extra consideration. You may have lost your loved one through a traumatic death, or maybe they were much too young when they passed. Or, perhaps, they just weren't that great of a person. It could even be that your family dynamics are difficult to navigate. My training as a Life-Cycle Celebrant can help us get through all of these scenarios and more. Your loved one will be honoured in a respectfully truthful and loving way.