Funerals and End-of-Life Celebrations – saying goodbye
Losing a loved one is devastating. It’s a time of shock, bewilderment, disbelief and in the case of protracted illness, sometimes a blessed relief. No matter what the circumstances, it is a time of profound change – a time to reflect, give thanks and say goodbye to the physical form we have known and loved.
This is usually a deeply difficult and painful time, which means that the way a ceremony is created and conducted will not only have a lasting impact but will make a difference in the days and years ahead, when the deceased is remembered.
For family and friends this is not only a time to grieve and say goodbye, but also to give thanks and celebrate the life of the departed. It is a time of trying to come to terms with change and loss.
Where there has been a strong religious faith, the funeral service will usually be conducted by a minister of that faith at their regular place of worship.
Spiritual but not Religious
Increasingly today people describe themselves as believing in a spiritual source without necessarily being religious. As an interfaith minister and funeral celebrant, I bring the spiritual dimension to a service that respects this belief. This doesn’t mean that religious elements can’t be included, just that it is not the main focus. The important thing is that the ceremony includes everything desired and the lasting feeling is one of completion, respect and love.
Music, songs and hymn ideas. More resources at the end of the page.
A selection of testimonials and thanks
|“I asked Akasha to officiate at my dear Aunts cremation last year as Aunty Dot had requested that there should be no ‘religious’ officiant. Having known Akasha for 10 years and knowing what a kind, understanding soul she is, she was my first port of call to help us with and through this difficult time. Akasha gave us great support and dealt brilliantly with our complex family dynamic so that we were all extremely happy with what was decided. The service itself was just awesome, a lovely fitting tribute to a lovely Aunt. It captured her spirit and driving force perfectly as well as acknowledging her difficulties in life plus highlighting the joy that she also got from her life. The cremation was held in Buckinghamshire and the funeral director said that she wished Akasha lived nearer as it was the most lovely service she had experienced in her many years conducting funerals! Need I say more? I just hope Akasha is around for my funeral service!” AB, Wiltshire, UK|
|“Thank you so much, it was a beautiful service and we really appreciated how you captured all the memories we talked about, and the thoughtful way that you wove them throughout the service. I am also very grateful for all your practical help with things like the music and readings, as well as your invaluable support in guiding me through a confusing time. I really appreciated it as I felt a bit alone with all the arrangements before we met” JB, Bristol, UK
Dear Akasha. Many thanks for holding the space so beautifully and the support you gave us. RD and family, London, UK
|Dear Akasha. Thank you for making everybody feel like family. We were delighted with the way the day went.
JT and family, Oxford, UK
|“Dear Reverend Akasha, we would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to you for your help and understanding in arranging Mary’s funeral service. It was a special day as we said goodbye to her, and everyone who attended felt it was what she would have wanted. So Mary’s long journey has ended and sad though that fact is, we are comforted in the knowledge we did our best with your help and sincerity yesterday. Thank you and Bless you.” C S, Wiltshire, UK|
|“Dear Akasha, I cannot thank you enough for giving my mum such a heartfelt service. You made the day so very special and everyone has been asking me where on earth we found you! There really are no words for me to express how grateful I am to you for giving us all your kind support. You have been a complete blessing to us all, thank you so very much” CL, Oxford, UK|
|“Dear Akasha, my wife and I would like to thank you so much for the effort you put in today at the funeral of Olive Archer and in the past few weeks attempting to locate family and friends. Without you and your selfless effort Olive would have been cremated,and gone on her last journey alone. We are MOST grateful to you for bringing the family and friends of Olive together for this final tribute to her life. The service was a very tender and loving goodbye. Your kindness will remain with us always, thank you so much.” PA, Wiltshire, UK|
|“Dear Akasha, thank you for wonderful service on Friday, it was just right – a combination of respect, warmth and amusement. Thank you too for all your support over recent weeks, it has been a very special time in lots of ways, and part of that has been meeting you. I can’t thank you enough. PN, Wiltshire, UK|
At this daunting and confusing time, here are a few resources that might be helpful.
So many funeral directors who say they are family owned are actually part of huge organisations. If you prefer a truly independent funeral director, SAIF is the home of the UK Independent Funeral Directors and I recommend them.
These are two very good resource books with a wealth of practical, emotional and legal information.
The Good Funeral Guide an independent consumers guide by Charles Cowling
The New Natural Death Handbook Fifth Edition.
This is a beautiful memorial website where you can create a free tribute to your loved one for ten years
Winston’s Wish is a charity dedicated to helping children live after someone close to them dies. Extensive information can be found on their website.
Additional note: For a cremation, I always recommend that where possible, a double time period is booked to ensure that saying goodbye is not rushed.