Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Independent Celebrant: Courageous writing: Eulogies

As a Celebrant, I spend much of my time writing the stories of people's lives. When it is a funeral- the celebration of a life lived, it is vitally important that it is perfect. I need to capture the character of a person and include those all-important anecdotes, so each is a unique Eulogy, not just a list of dates and achievements.
 I am always touched when family members find the courage to write the Eulogy or send me their memories of their loved one. Finding the strength to turn away from their personal grief, to search the past for happy stories, is extremely difficult to do..
 Yet it can make such a difference. A ceremony full of happy memories and heartfelt descriptions of their loved one, comes alive. It becomes a ceremony that it uplifting, honest, and true to the person lost.
 Most often, people's lives are filled with happy times and if we are able to see past our immediate grief, we can create a proper memorial, an ceremony that makes us smile through our tears.
 I understand the courage it takes to write when we have just lost. One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do was to write a short piece in honour of my beloved Father.
 I include it here in his memory:


My Father L.K. Way (right)  and my Grandfather J.E.D Hall both Political Journalists-
Conservative Conference, sometime in the 1950's at Brighton

28th September 1916- 8th November 2011 

My father lived for 95 years.
His life spanned nearly a century- it's hard to imagine the changes he has seen. He was at Dunkirk and was rescued by a ship from the beaches. He never spoke of the war but regretted missing so much of his two elder sons' early lives and his wife's last years -she died of cancer not long after he returned from duty.

All his life he was involved with words and politics. He had been awarded a C.B.E, had poems published and was a political journalist respected by all political parties.
He always spoke of the joy and delight he felt when he met my beautiful mother, who was then an ice dancer with 'Holiday on Ice' and how lucky he felt to be given another chance at happiness when he had a second family- myself and my brother- together with her.
I will not now speak of all the things I could tell you of him: his goodness, integrity and intelligence and I will only say that to me he was the perfect English gentleman.
I refuse to mourn his passing.
For the last few years all the things that he enjoyed and all the things that made him himself have been slowly stripped from him. He coped with courage, wry humour and dignity but I could feel only fury.
That has passed now and I feel sadness but no more rage.
I am lucky to have my faith and believe that when it is my time to make that final leap over to the other side, his hands will be there to catch me.

 This short piece cost me many tears and was such a battle to write. Now I can never underestimate the value of the words sent to me by families for the funerals I write.

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