Four Weddings and a Funeral (Training)
Last month I completed my Certificate in Funeral Celebrancy with the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants. As with my Family Celebrancy training way back in 2017, the course was led by Terri Negus, one of the pioneers of celebrancy in the UK. Terri led the course with her usual warmth, generosity and care and even though we were meeting virtually there was a real sense of camaraderie among us students. We all came from different backgrounds and there was the generous sharing of life experiences throughout the course that enriched our learning alongside Terri’s syllabus.
You might wonder what a course in Funeral Celebancy covers. Well, I had the same thoughts. How would we cover dealing with grieving families, the logistics of a funeral, how do you sum up someone’s life, and where do you start? Sessions were broken down into different areas and then we had time to reflect and process. We also had a creative writing exercise that involved working with another student. It was incredibly powerful and made my brain work in an exciting and new direction. I was genuinely surprised with what I was able to achieve. Since becoming a family celebrant I’d always felt that funeral celebrancy wasn’t for me, I was concerned about the emotional toll that funeral celebrants have to take on. But through my training, I’ve now realised that funerals are solemn and sad occasions, but they are also an opportunity for loved ones to come together to celebrate a life. A life that was lived, a life that meant something, a life that needs to be marked and celebrated, as well as mourned.
I have now earned my training certificate and am a member of our alumni network which provides a great resource for support and encouragement as we paddle into the waters of funeral celebrancy. The group’s icon is an elephant, inspired by one member’s sage advice (via Desmond Tutu) that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” As a reminder that even the most daunting tasks can be accomplished with small steps.
We have a virtual meet-up again next month to see how we are all doing. I’ll be excited to see us all on screen again and see how we are all getting on. For me, I’ve got some steps I need to take, some calls I’ve to make, and some self-doubt I need to shake. But despite that, I’m so excited to see what this next chapter looks like for me and the work I’m planning on doing this year and beyond.
Outside of training, I’m gearing up for the height of the wedding season, although ceremonies have already started for the year, but as June begins to poke its head around the corner things start to get even busier. This Bank Holiday weekend sees two very different but both beautiful ceremonies. I’m also working on a special ceremony which I may talk about at a later date if appropriate. In my role as a celebrant, I continue to realise every day that life and people are as varied as stars in the sky, and in doing the work I am eternally grateful that I have the opportunities to meet and connect with people on such a deep level.
And finally, a sweet moment to share. I performed a vow renewal for a wonderful couple last week. They had a guitarist perform during the ceremony. Then at the end, when all the guests had left the room, he began to play the song that had been the first dance at their wedding. I was prattling on to them about the ceremony and they very sweetly let me know the meaning of the song being played. I made a polite but quick exit and left them slow dancing together around the beautiful room as the sun shone in. It was the perfect ending to a ceremony full of love and meaning.
Outside of work I’ve been enjoying lots of time in the garden and visited RHS Hyde Hall last week for some garden-related inspiration. My lovely step-mum took me for a treat and we spent time nosing about, enjoying the scenery and then finished with a tasty lunch in the cafe. There was then a little bit of plant shopping and my new finds are making themselves at home in the garden. I found this time really inspiring and energising, so as the summer continues I might find a few more flower metaphors working their way into my wedding scripts.
Until next time,