Many people have said it in various ways over the years, but it was Greek philosopher Heraclitus who is quoted as saying that "change is the only constant in life" and that’s never been truer than watching how things have unfolded over the past few years.
On a personal level, since I have become an Independent Celebrant, I have seen a huge change in how people approach death and dying. And largely for the positive I feel!
One of the most interesting things I have noted is that people are starting to embrace the notion of making things positive at a Funeral Ceremony or Celebration of Life. Colleagues tell me of the use of sound effects during the ceremony such as the sound of falling rain or for one lady, the galloping of horses’ hooves as the coffin was lowered.
There have been others who have played video recordings of the deceased’s party piece or family members record songs or music to be played. Some have requested that their pets attend (well behaved and otherwise) and even more courageous, the deceased has asked for the Celebrant to dress up in specific clothing…That’s ok while it’s a football top or Hawaiian shirt but there have been more outrageous requests!
I led a Celebration of Life for an elderly couple who died within days of each other, and both adored to watch the wildlife in their garden. Throughout their whole ceremony, the song of a robin was played in the in the background. Emotive and personal; how wonderful.
Sadly, I have had people say to me that it is disrespectful to have anything other than formality and sombreness at a funeral, but I couldn’t disagree more. It’s about choice and the freedom to do things the way we or the dying want them to be done. Not everyone leads a conventional life and to me, to deny this at the end is so so sad.
I have even written a Funeral Ceremony for a friend while he is still very much alive! It’s being added to as significant things happen and has given him comfort to have his life story told the way he wanted it telling.
The pandemic saw an increase in Direct Funerals, and this has been a huge change for many people. This does not mean though that there cannot be a Ceremony the way that there would be at a Church or Crematorium; it can be held wherever and whenever you wish with no time limitations and with the freedom to do things the way you wish them to be done. A favourite beauty spot might be just the place for the celebration, weather permitting of course, or perhaps the deceased’s favourite pub! Our only limitation is our imagination.
What would you have and where would you hold it?