Countries apart and Death
This last year has been unlike any other and for so many people across the world it has been the most horrendous of them all and when you throw into the mix dealing with the death of a loved one in this current climate, life can get even more complicated, difficult and stressful.
Many people find that attending a funeral is their way of marking and honouring the death of a loved one, their way of letting go and finally saying goodbye. Without a funeral sometimes it can feel as though the death is surreal where it doesn't quite sink in and you are not there in the midst of the grief and mourning of everyone else and you are not there in a place where we know to be part of our routine.
The heartache for so many, has had a huge detrimental affect on their mental health, it truly is sad. I spoke to a close friend recently who had lost a parent. I explained to my friend that although they couldn't be there for the funeral there is another way they could mark and honour the death of their parent that would help in the grief and mourning process for not just my friend but their children too. Ever the disbeliever, like many, my friend declared there was absolutely no way. Another friend questioned the idea of having a Celebration of Life later in the year to mark and honour the death of a loved one, simply because it appeared on the face to them, out of the ordinary and far from the normal. My reasoning behind this blog is to explain there are ways, new and old ways, forgotten ways too.
This is the marking of a new era in life and these are suggestions or inspiration to help those that are grieving to mark and honour their loved ones whether it is with the help of a Celebrant like myself or in their own special way.
Zoom - Firstly I kick off with Zoom, by now we all know about Zoom, it has been the fastest growing and most used service on the internet along with other communication services such as FaceTime, Skype or Microsoft Teams. Many funeral venues across the world still have limitations on the number of attendees and with travel restrictions across the world these communications services are becoming increasingly used so that everyone can be as present as humanly possible. Some people find this concept very weird, which is perfectly fine & understandable, others are totally fine with this idea. It is an option for mourners and don't be alarmed if not everyone takes to the idea straight away.
Celebration of Life - now this can come in many forms, it can be done on the day of the funeral, the birthday of the deceased, a special date you have shared with the deceased or your own personal date. You can use the services of a Celebrant like myself or organise something on your own, as a family and/ or with friends. Here are some suggestions...
a trip to the beach, this is a good way to include children of all ages. The beach is a great place to go for everything, the sight of the wide ocean and the breeze of the sea air against your cheeks. You could write a piece about the person in your life who has died, what you loved about them and will miss about them. Placing all your readings into a bottle and sending out to sea. Holding a moments silence to remember and holding hands if you are with others or feel the sea air against you as you take your moment of silence.
Too cold for the one above, how about gathering all your favourite photos of the times you have shared as well as the photos you loved about that person. Alongside the photos also collect readings or write your own piece and add these all together to create a collage photo album, something you can look back on in years to come and share with others. Again something else for the children to join in with. I did something similar for my Granddad and I have written all the little things I remember about him, 12 years later I still go through this with my children keeping his memory alive. You could always hold a small ritual ceremony by candlelight as you piece the album together, listening to music they loved and reminiscing...
There is still the possibility of a Celebration of Life service conducted by a Celebrant later on in the year, at a date that you are comfortable with, where all the people that matter can physically be present. This type of service allows time too, allowing you to think what to include, anything that may not of been included in the funeral service, something you wish to add, or the ability to do something completely different. This service is not only a memorial service, it is also a Celebration of that persons life and their life with you. A ceremony like this can take place anywhere for example in your home, the woods, the beach, a sports venue that has meaning to your loved one, the ideas are endless. You can use this moment to scatter ashes or a visit/ceremony at the graveside. You could also include small rituals such as cleansing rituals, candles, the sand of time. The possibilities are endless. Services like this I find can be more intimate and have more meaning to families and loved ones than a funeral service.
Prayers - the forgotten and lost way. A silent moment to read a prayer, your prayer or a small reading, in a quiet place, away from noise, on your own or with others. Being able to acknowledge and say your goodbyes. This is one of the most intimate ways that many of us have forgotten over time, with new age technology and a modern world. You do not have to be religious at all to do this.
I will leave you with these inspirations and please feel free to add in the comments other ideas that may help other people or something you have done yourself.
Close your eyes
Listen for my footfall in your heart
I am not gone but merely walk within you
- Nicholas Evans
Images - Unsplash, Greg Roserike, Gabriel Benois, Riri, Rotiv Artic