Quality and Compassion

Celebrant Steve Game-Blackmoor

Quality Funeral Ceremonies

It doesn’t matter how much time we have in the crematorium chapel or around the graveside, whether it will be 20 minutes or an hour; what matters is what we do with the time allotted to us—quality over quantity. 

Most people can read a script alongside a bit of music or read out a poem or two, but can they deliver a non-scripted conversation, celebrating life, and deliver it professionally? Can they draw on the memories and the characteristics of the person who has died? Can they bring a smile or laughter to the occasion? Can they enhance music choices and make them mean something, conveying a sense of musicality and style? Can they use photographs and memorabilia creatively? Are they capable of using ritual and prose from a position of poetic insight? Do they have the resource and the experience to bring all of this together? And offer it from a place of empathy and understanding?

To celebrate someone’s life is to capture the essence of who the person was and express it in verbal and non-verbal ways. 

Sometimes this can be achieved by family and friends sharing their recollections. Or by an anthology of memories. Or by a eulogy delivered by me or a member of the family or a close friend. At other times it can be quite evocative and emotive, when there is a combination of imagery, ritual, symbolism and art, alongside well presented words.

Whether we wish the ceremony to be a simple commemoration or something perhaps a little more elaborate, whatever we choose, we must decide to give it our absolute best. Quality matters a great deal more than we might think.

A simple ceremony delivered seamlessly and gracefully is a beautiful way of giving worth to life. Likewise, a ceremony that comes across a little more flamboyantly, and is delivered with a sense of decorum and propriety, can make a big ceremony feel eloquent and significant.

We must remember that a well-managed funeral ceremony will always have long term implications. A poorly managed ceremony can have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences.

Compassionate Funeral Ceremonies

Nothing will ever substitute personal life experience when it comes to an understanding of the nature of grief. And, of course, everyone’s grief is inimitable. However, having studied bereavement and assisted hundreds of people in coping with their loss for over 20 years means I’m in a very unique position. 

Listening carefully and attentively is key. Having a pastoral concern for the family I serve helps too. In fact, I believe this is key to the success of the whole process. It concerns me how many funeral officiants there are in the UK who seem to have little or no training when it comes to bereavement. When I started my Celebrancy in 2016, it was important that I was able to offer professional ongoing support to families who needed it, and to do this well meant I had to be equipped to deal with grief proficiently. So, I studied hard.

Very often, when visiting a family to arrange the funeral ceremony, I find myself listening and focussing on the feelings of grief and loss. I receive a lot of feedback from families who appreciate this level of support. Many comments recognise how compassionate and empathetic the ceremony was as a result too. And, of course, my own experience of loss plays a big part in my capacity to care. It’s not all theory. Grief is very familiar territory. 

I like this quote from Robert M. Pirsig, “Care and quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing. A person who sees quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who’s bound to have some characteristic of quality.”  In other words, quality and compassion go hand in hand.

From the age of 9 years, I been aware of a innate call to serve, relating ardently to these words by Saheeh Mafi, 

“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but also with my heart.”

If you would like to talk to someone about leading a funeral ceremony, and you’re keen to have this organised and delivered with these ideals in mind, then do pick up the phone and give me a call or contact me by sending me a message below.  

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