Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex in 1855. The company now has a further three offices across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – and enjoys collaborating with other funeral industry professionals to ensure that local people are able to arrange funerals which are meaningful to them. This week, the blog features a perspective from local celebrant, Beth Kirkham.
Losing a loved one is undoubtedly one of the most challenging experiences we face in life. It is a time when emotions run high and the strain of grief can feel overwhelming. In the midst of this difficult period, the responsibility of putting together a funeral ceremony to reflect and honour the life and essence of a loved one can weigh heavy. Choosing who is going to write and deliver that ceremony is a key decision. For some this may be an obvious choice, in the case of a religious leader with which the deceased had a connection, or perhaps a family member who wishes to take it on. But if this isn’t the case then many will find themselves looking for a celebrant, someone like me…
But what exactly is a celebrant and what is my role?
As a celebrant, I have had the privilege of guiding families through the process of planning and delivering fitting farewells for their loved ones. I believe that every life is unique, and therefore, each farewell should reflect the individuality and essence of the person we are honouring.
The first step is getting to know your loved one, as best I can. I meet with you, hear all about your person and what you would like to include in their funeral ceremony. I will also make suggestions and recommendations from my experience, as needed. By listening attentively to your stories, memories, and values, I aim to gather a comprehensive understanding of their life, personality, and achievements. Sharing stories, anecdotes, and significant moments helps me capture the essence of who they were.
I use all of this to lovingly craft a ceremony that authentically celebrates the life and legacy of your loved one. Based on the insights gathered, I weave together a narrative that tells the story of their life. From their early years to their significant milestones, passions, and accomplishments; I strive to create a cohesive and engaging ceremony that honours their journey. By capturing the essence of their personality, values, and beliefs, the ceremony becomes a reflection of the life they lived and the impact they had on those around them.
The role of a celebrant is not to impose a predefined structure or script but to collaborate with you to create a deeply personal ceremony. I work closely with families, respecting their cultural, religious or spiritual backgrounds, as well as any specific wishes they may have. Whether it involves incorporating music, readings, rituals, or symbolic gestures, each element is carefully chosen to represent your loved one and to resonate with those attending the ceremony.
This is why a draft ceremony is shared with you for your thoughts and I will tweak as necessary until you feel like the worry of having the perfect ceremony it taken care of.
On the day of the funeral, along with your chosen Funeral Director, I am by your side to support and guide you through the proceedings. I lead the ceremony with warmth, empathy and professionalism. I am a calm presence; guiding attendees through the order of service and ensuring that everything flows smoothly. By fostering an atmosphere of shared remembrance and celebration, I aim to create a healing and uplifting experience for all who attend.
Using a celebrant can really help to lighten the load of planning a funeral ceremony and finding the right one for you is key; someone you feel comfortable with and trust to deliver for you. So how do you do that? If you are using a Funeral Director then they are well placed to make recommendations for someone that you think will be a good fit for your needs. But you can also find someone yourself – if you take to Google and search for your local celebrants, you will find a whole host of individuals who all offer something slightly different. Have a look at their website, read some reviews and pick up the phone and speak to them; after all it is all about human connection.
You can find out more about my services via my website www.bethkirkhamceremonies.co.uk
With thanks to Beth for her wonderful contribution!