Welcome to Straight from the Heart and my very first blog – I hope you will enjoy following me.
What makes someone become a funeral celebrant? I am sure every celebrant has their own reason, for me it was a series of deaths in the family and wanting to share their life stories, memories and celebrate their lives. Some people have their chosen faith, and that is good, but it’s not for everyone. I come from a very small family, I have no brothers or sisters, the closest I came to a sister was a cousin, who was four months younger than me, also an only child, but who died in 1992 from cancer age 34. From that day onward, my aunt and uncle became a second mum and dad for me, everything I did for my mum and dad, I did for my aunt and uncle, we were all very close.
In June 2015, age 93, my uncle passed away after a heart attack. It was the first funeral I had to arrange, but he had been adamant, while alive, he wanted no religious service. I asked the funeral director, who was a long standing friend, for advice and he suggested a Celebrant, which I had never heard of. I had heard of a Humanist and thought it as the same thing, but I was wrong. We picked the music and a poem, and along with the information that the Celebrant collected about my uncle from friends and family, we had a lovely service celebrating the life of a wonderful man, although it was sad he had gone, it was also very uplifting. Many of his friends had never attended such a service, they said it was a bit strange to be laughing at a funeral, but the memories shared through the story told, brought back such good memories to them that they found it very poignant. They said it gave them food for thought when it came to their time.
On 29th December 2017, I had to let my best friend, a cross lurcher/staffie age 16 ½ cross the Rainbow Bridge, I was heartbroken. She had been my best friend, she had seen me through so much. My husband worked away a lot, he was a sailor, and we went through a very difficult time, and split up for a period, but Lexie was always there, never judging, never asking for much, just giving love, as only an animal can do. One week later my beloved mum died age 90. Everyone’s mum is special and mine was too. She had been on dialysis for ten years, but she had such an amazing outlook on life. She loved to laugh, she lived life to the full the best she could, my dad had been in a care home with vascular dementia for a year before she died, a little bit of her died inside when my dad could not remember her, their wedding or that I was his daughter, but she did her best not to let it get her down, she was pretty special, she attended the renal unit three times a week and turned in to a social occasion. She had a huge heart and time for everyone.
When she died. I knew no-one knew her like I did and I wanted to write her funeral service, it was the last thing I could do for her. So I wrote it and the Celebrant, the same one who performed my uncle’s service, deliver it. After the service, people commented on how good it was. They had found out things about my mum that they had never known before, and that it had been a real celebration of an amazing woman, that came straight from my heart and the heart of friends and family who had share her life.
On the 19th May, the same year, my dad died aged 88. Friends and family shared their stories and again I wrote the service for him, wrote a poem and picked his favourite music, again it came straight from my heart and again the celebrant delivered it for me. Out of my four golden oldies, my aunt was the only one left, sadly in February 2018, she passed away in her sleep age 88. It seemed my life was on a loop, in less than two years I had lost five core family members, yes five, my dog Lexie was as much a part of our small family as my parents and my aunt and uncle.
I was completely lost, I had looked after them all for so long, been their carers when they became ill and still held down a very demanding job in the oil industry. But the illness and the deaths had taken their toll. Over the years, moving them from their family homes to sheltered houses, care homes then arranging funerals, I was burnt out and my best friend Lexie was not there to see me through the dark days. Again I prepared my aunts service and the same Celebrant who was now a good friend delivered it for me. It was after my aunt’s funeral, at the age of 60, I made my life changing decision, I wanted to prepare and deliver funeral services for other people. Services that came straight from the heart. I wanted other families to celebrate the life of their loved ones, no matter how long or how short it had been. I wanted people to tell me their stories, share their memories, so that their loved ones lives could be shared and celebrated with love, no matter what their beliefs. It was a scary thing for me to do, walk away from a well-paid job with reasonable security and take a leap of faith to do something I really wanted to do. Thanks to my aunt, I had the means to do it, So, I booked the diploma course and here I am! Over the next few blogs, you will find out what drives and inspires me – how I coped with all the loss and how I started to heal, I hope you will join me.

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