Since becoming a widow myself in 2019, my empathy for the bereaved has increased one hundredfold.
However, I feel the need to take a break from my celebrant duties for now. I wish all readers well, and will update in due course.
As I walked away from the funeral in my black dress I wondered what that man’s life had meant to me. Not one thing in the service had brought me closer to him, or even moved me. I knew I should have been a full part of it, but I felt unseen. And – I felt the man was unseen too.
That man was my father. So much was missing but back then I wanted someone else to articulate what it was.
Fast forward to 2014. I glowed inside as I read and re-read an article about creating a truly meaningful funeral ceremony. One that brought home the heart of a person’s life. The article talked about supporting the family by listening intently to their wishes. I was in with both feet and within weeks I was training.
My first funeral as a celebrant confirmed my calling.
‘Christine, you were just what was needed, you must have been doing this for years!’ the daughter said.
‘It feels like that, but I have to be honest and tell you it’s my first one.’
Her hand rose to her mouth. ‘That’s amazing! It was so perfect, and you did it so well. Thanks again!‘
‘How did you know Uncle John?’ the niece said to me.
I had to tell her I didn’t know Uncle John while he was alive, it was my preparation with the family that made it feel that way. I went on to express how much I’d loved being with the family and being curious about her uncle.
When I was ten years old my grandmother was living with us. She died suddenly and I waited patiently for the funeral ceremony so I could say goodbye to my Nan.
Two weeks later I asked about her.
‘Oh, the funeral was last week while you were at school. It’s no place for a child.’
I was confused and I felt my feelings didn’t matter. There was no container for all the emotions running through me, no anchoring experience. I was just expected to get on with my schoolwork.
Now I encourage families to consider fully including the children. Everyone needs to feel seen and heard, to have permission to be sad, show their love, and grieve in their own way.
I have raised three boys and am a proud grandmother of four. My background includes many support roles in the NHS and complimentary therapies, in hospitality, and more recently working alongside special needs children. I love swimming, biographies, theatre and live concerts, music, and being a Nan!
I am based in Mid Devon.