When someone dies, we come together. We come together to acknowledge and remember. We come together to say good-bye. And we come together because it gives us comfort to share, to not be alone.
We’re living in an inbetween world right now, where many of the traditional rituals around death simply don’t work. And finding your own way at a time when you’re already emotionally drained can be exhausting. Yet doing nothing can leave us feeling even more empty and incomplete. Honouring a life is more a process than an event.
And it can take on many forms: a public ceremony, a private event, or a personal ritual. And it can be a profound experience and an active way to grieve.
Hold A Modern Memorial
A modern memorial is interactive and real. It can involve everyone…both in the preparation and in the final farewell. Full of storytelling and memories and laughter and tears. You who have lost the most need the most. And so the preparation can be just as rich as the final event. We’ll slow down and create something that will fit your loved one like a glove…something s/he would be delighted to attend (even if she is a banquet hall and dessert square kind of person, but I am guessing s/he is not…:) We’ll aim for a remarkable tribute. One that allows everyone to leave with a full heart. I can help you create it, and then I can lead it or we can hand it over to someone in your circle (and yes, it can be beautifully done on zoom…:)
Bob was an accordion playing Renaissance man who loved donuts and Mexican food. And a practical joker, so his celebration held one last practical joke…we raffled off some of his oddest possessions, including a stuffed pheasant. Ate his favourites, checked out some of his inventions and played a lot of accordion music..:)
Pete’s celebration was on the other side of the continent. It was perfect for the pirate that he was, and included his kids, and grandkids and lots of Johnny Walker. More here.
Make it Active
Isn’t it funny that almost everyone wants to get married outdoors, yet most memorials are held inside? Perhaps the time we feel most connected to the essence of life is when we are in nature. (more Co-Vid friendly too…:)
A tree planting or a memorial bench gives you an active place to visit your loved one. Or maybe there’s something else that is more suited. We can figure that out.
Speaking at a Celebration
Have you been asked to speak at a Celebration of Life? Or to deliver a Eulogy? I can ask you the good questions (same as I do in weddings), help you craft your message and give your final talk a bit of “spit and polish.” It will be authentic and unstuffy.
Private Ceremonies and Rituals
“Ok so we’re standing here with the ashes, now what do we do?”This is often the final farewell, and there are many ways it can be done together. I can help you determine how (biggest step), and then design a ritual that feels more comfortable and real.
Miscarriage and Stillbirth
When birth and death join hands, most people feel lost, unsure of what to do. For bereaved parents, honouring the loss is so vital, yet they are often both physically and emotionally drained. For those who love them, there’s a different kind of grief. Expressing it together gives sorrow a place to hold hands with love.
Small storytelling sessions and rituals
People often say “s/he doesn’t want anything.” But the simple truth is that memorials are for those left behind. We need to say good-bye. And there are informal but still meaningful actions that can help people remember and release.
When time is finite, it takes on a whole different tone. The normally predominant “chronos” (clock time) moments wane, replaced by “kairos” moments, where time stands still, you are totally engaged. Some people find that learning to dance with their own ending (vs. having it overtake them) gives voice to their own sorrow, provides a sense of control while swimming in deep water, offers comfort to those around them, and provides a greater sense of peace.
Losing a Pet
A loved one can be 4-legged, and the grieving is no less real. Every life deserves to be honoured.
Sometimes, you just need to do something. Something more than the traditional. Something beyond what the rest of the family can do. Something that is an active way to grieve. Or to take their memory and love out into the world. It may be one thing, or a few. Saying good-bye is a process, not an event.