When someone’s died, the people closest to them – family, partner, friends – want the funeral to do them full justice, and to mark the end of that stage of their own lives. I see my job as helping them to design a ceremony that recalls the whole life and individuality of the person who’s died: their story, their tastes and quirks. The funeral becomes the place where all the complex feelings can be acknowledged, and a proper goodbye said.
Some people want a celebrant to act as a kind of MC, just introducing and ending the ceremony; others prefer to have the celebrant do most or all of the speaking, while they either brief me or ask me to read their words. I’m happy to take whatever role seems best, to make the funeral work for the people grieving. It may be a very simple service, with very few words – or even none; or a rich and complex one, with live music, poetry readings and several speakers. I’m also happy to advise anyone who wants to conduct the funeral themselves.
I also lead memorial services, and help people plan a ceremony for scattering ashes.
As well as doing this work, I’m a writer, and I bring writer’s skills to drafting the service, aiming to find the right tone and style for each situation. This is based on a first meeting with whoever is planning the funeral. They get to vet and amend what I’ve written, so that we know it’s accurate and appropriate.
I worked for many years as an advice worker, in multicultural settings, and with people in all kinds of complex situations. I also completed a foundation year of psychotherapy training, and I have a keen interest in how we respond to with the major events of our lives. I recently did some work as an undertaker in a modern, alternative company. This was an important and moving experience for me, understanding the physicality of death, and I believe it helps me in my work as a celebrant.
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"Thanks for everything! I appreciated your attention to detail and your reassuring presence on the day." Kate
"Thank you so so much for everything. The service was fantastic and you made it all easy and enjoyable and I didn't feel alone with the huge task of creating a funeral for my mum." Ramune
"You, in some way, made the saddest day of my life as bearable as it could be... We all appreciate how kind and patient you were with us when you visited the house and that eventually, together, we managed to put together a beautiful and fitting tribute to a son who will be remembered and missed by his family and all who knew him." Betty