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  • Writer's pictureEddie Slater

17.01.2023 Smiling Because I Just love Being A Celebrant

Well today I am in the office again today continuing on from yesterday printing everything for two services I have got coming up in the next few days to a week away. I have found myself printing everything and noticed, that there I was smiling as I was doing it. I did the same yesterday.

So much so, that today I decided to write about why I am smiling. It takes more effort to frown that it does to smile. Naturally, when the printer is deciding to do it's own thing and send an extra page out in between everything or decide to take two pieces of paper at the same time to try and print still, yeah it's easier to frown.

Still after a quiet word with the said printer and a request for a re-print of the oddly printed page I am smiling again. It made me thing about why I am smiling. So I thought I would share it with you.

When I first get the phone call from the funeral directors, my thoughts for the family start. I believe that I am then working on behalf of the funeral directors and the family are expecting my call. Even if the service is not for a few weeks. No time like the present.

Firstly I receive the letter and information form the funeral directors and then log it all on my laptop in my records. Then I set up a file ready for when I start typing up the visit. Once done I then put the family information in to my phone and make my initial call.

For some reason, the most stupid question is asked by myself after introducing myself to the family " So how are things" like anyone is ever going so respond with " I'm absolutely fine thanks" I then listen to what is being discussed and arrange a time to go and visit them, emailing them anything we've discussed in the call prior.

So the time comes for the visit. Of course the family don't always advise of what the parking is like but hey ho. We meet, we discuss their lost one and how THEY want the service to go. First and foremost I NEVER tell the family how they are having their service. The family will ask my suggestions and what I think is best. As a result I give them options to choose from.

These visits can take anywhere from an hour to 3 or 4 hours. That is fine by me, and I tell the family not to worry about who long the meeting takes. It has to be right, and ensure they have told me everything they want me to encapsulate in to the service.

I meet all different types of families when I arrive. Some wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Others, simply finding it still so raw and difficult to recall any memories as they are too distraught. Then I meet the ones who like I just mentioned, telling me they've lost everything. It is only when I ask how they met, that they start telling me and you see them going from being so broken-like to a beaming smile as they recall how they met tat he local dance and hoy the other person had two left feet, or that they didn't really fancy them then. However I usually stop and say to them, "You still have that memory then?" they agree, and that when I often say " So you haven't lost everything then, as you still have those memories". Then comes then surprising response. " Thank you i never thought of it like that".

The time comes and I leave the visit to head home and set about reflecting on the meeting. before driving off, I sit for a moment in my car and reflect on the family. Sometimes, I feel positive about the family and other times the family plays on my mind for what they are going through. Once I am home and back in the office I notify the funeral directors of the music choices and the content for the headings in the orders of services.

Then the fun starts.

Whist thinking about what has been said to me in the meeting I am also thinking of how I am going to start the service, and thinking of funny stories they have shared with me and how to reflect them in the best way to lighten the service for the family.

Some times I find myself chuckling as I am typing up what the family have told me, especially when there is a funny punchline to the end of the story. Once I am satisfied with what I have typed up, its ran through a grammar check programme and edited accordingly. Then I send a copy to the family. Any further amendments advised and changed and the final go a head to print is given.

It when this is being printed out that the biggest smile appears for me, because I know in booklet I have printed for the service, contains someone's life. That someone was their husband, wife, mother , father, brother, son sister, daughter. aunt or uncle. Who ever it is, it is a privilege for them to have spoken at great length to me about them for me to deliver the service on the day.

The day arrives for the service to be delivered and upon the families' arrival, I always check the seating requirements and if who was t be giving their tributes still feels able. Then it's in to the service.

After the service, when the family is leaving and the congregation shake my hand and say "Thank you very much" or "Lovely service" the best response is " They would have loved that, it was as if you knew them" Or " I don't know how you did that but that was spot on" i am sure they forget they gave me the information about heir loved one, all I did was put it in to a context and read it out on the day..

I say my goodbyes, ring the funeral directors and tell them how the service went and what the family said. then I return home and it is when I am driving home, it say to myself "Well Ed, your job is done" The family had their day their way.

Hence where my saying comes from, It's your day so why Not Have It Your Way.

I then wait for my phone to ring and another funeral director to say " Are you available to take a service for me" Then I get to smile all over again.

That's what I love about being a celebrant and that why I am smiling when I set about my work from start to finish. I've even been smiling as I have been typing this.

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