The Civil Celebrant | The Civil Circle of Life | Part 4 of 4

Farewells and Funerals

A Mourning Flower

The Circle of Life will, of course, turn and there will be times when we experience great sadness. When someone we love dies the initial shock and distress can be overwhelming. We are barely able to think or process information but during these most difficult days we are faced with some pretty hard decisions. To turn away from what is traditional means that we will have to find something else to replace it and, if that is daunting in the happy moments, then during the distress and vulnerability of bereavement, one would think it an impossible decision to make. Yet that is what is happening more and more frequently.

The choice to exclude religion from a final farewell seems to be driven by the need for total honesty at the end of a life. If the deceased has not worshipped in life, found no comfort in a particular faith and had neither the need or desire to live inside a religious doctrine then it seems right, to those left behind, to honour the choices that were made by their loved-one during life.

The humanist approach at a funeral is the obvious choice for an atheist who has passed away and those attending will not expect any reference to a deity but, for families share differing views and feelings about religion, a ceremony conducted by a Civil or Family Celebrant offers some much-needed middle ground.

It must also be noted that when the ceremony is not dictated by a particular religion the funeral becomes a celebration of the life lived; a time to honour who the person was, what they loved, their achievements, their humour and how they enhanced the lives of all who knew them. In my experience this celebratory approach to all that the person was, rather than focusing on the sadness of their passing, gives the greatest comfort at the saddest of times.

Proper tribute can be paid to the deceased rather than a deity and the funeral ceremony can be constructed without having to consider the restrictions that religious services place on all end of life gatherings taken by clergy.

The committal is the time that most mourners find the most difficult to bear; at this time the coffin will be lowered into the earth or will disappear behind slowly closing curtains and it signifies the moment of final and absolute separation. Even at this most difficult time a Civil Ceremony can soften the last few moments; a civil committal is about the person who has died, what they meant to all who cared for them rather than the return to a faith that meant little to them whilst they were alive

We are unable to hold back what is inevitable – the Circle of Life will continue to turn. All that is mundane is made brighter by the key life moments we experience. Our lives would be lessened if we did not fully embrace love and celebrate a union of two people we care about.

None of us will ever be immune to the pure joy that is experienced when family is extended by a new generation. And we will loose someone we love.

The moments that define our lives will never change; how we honour them now can be!


SeePart 1|Challenging Tradition

SeePart 2|Choices? Make them personal!

SeePart 3|Milestones

Thanks to Kim Greenacre | Civil Celebrant |Celebrant House

Kim is a regular contributor to several magazines and a published poet. Kim is also a member of the UK Society of Celebrants and holds the Diploma in Family & Funeral Celebrancy awarded to Civil Celebrants.For more details about qualified Civil Celebrants in your area please click here.

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