“I think, no matter where you stray, that I shall go with you a way”
– Dorothy Parker
Ribbon ritual at a funeral for a young man. Photo credits Tim Dirven.
Funerals and Covid-19 (update 6th April)
The current Corona Virus/COVID-19 crisis has its affect on all aspects of our lives and also changes the way we do funerals.
Things are changing rapidly at the moment and I keep a close eye on NHS and Government advice on how to make sure funeral ceremonies are safe for those who are attending in close collaboration with the funeral directors involved.
At this moment, crematoria chapels are only open to a small group of people. For people who cannot attend many crematoria offer a live webcast or service recording. Some chapels have closed to the public entirely.
You may want to consider an alternative way to mark a farewell and celebrate a life. For example by holding a memorial or interment/scattering of ashes ceremony at a later date. We can also find virtual or other creative ways to bring people together to share memories, thoughts and feelings. Zoom funerals offer a meaningful and safe option for people to gather from all over the globe. Get in touch if you’d like to talk about these options.
For the time being, I a not meeting families in person. Together we find the best way to prepare through phone calls, emails, and video options such as FaceTime or Skype. Instead of shaking hands or giving hugs at funerals I use use alternative ways to express my sympathy and affection. For example, by placing my hand on my heart.
We are living in unprecedented times and not being able to say farewells in the traditional way may be very upsetting and difficult to accept.
I have started a blogpost to capture my experiences and how the reality of funerals and grief is changing. Read the blog here.
Please do get in touch to talk about your concerns, questions and options on how to have a funeral, memorial or farewell/remembrance ritual that feels right and fitting within the constraints of the current situation.
Saying goodbye your way
A good funeral helps acknowledge a death, pay tribute to a life lived, and find comfort and hope for the time to come. A funeral can be a healing and uplifting experience. When somebody dies, there is a lot to organise. The period leading up to the funeral can be emotional and overwhelming and taking the right decisions is not always easy.
I guide people in finding their way to express their final goodbyes, whatever their belief, gender identity, sexuality, age or background.
I meet you in person and take the time that is needed to get to know you and the person who has died. I write a personalised script, liaise with the funeral director and crematorium or cemetery staff to make sure that everything is in place for the funeral service. On the day, I conduct the ceremony, ensuring a calm and smooth delivery. You will receive a keepsake and I will contact you a couple of days later to learn how you look back on the day.
Mourn a death, celebrate a life, find comfort for the time to come
Funeral ceremonies are an occasion where people can mourn and share memories about the person who has died. A funeral service does not only have to be a sad occasion. The ceremonies I create also contain and uplifting elements, capturing the spirit of the person with dignity and gratitude. You may want to invite family and friends to take part in the ceremony by means of readings, music or personal tributes.
Children can play their part too. For advise on how to include children in funerals, read my article ‘How to include young children in funerals’. I also offer the option for children to play with the ‘Goodbye Box’, a set of wooden figures that help children express their thoughts and feelings when experiencing a death.
Often, the ceremony takes place at a crematorium, but any other location can be chosen: an old chapel, an outdoor place, a venue that has been meaningful to the person who has died, or at home. If you are interested in an alternative venue for a funeral, this blogpost might inspire you.
Child laying a flower on top of a coffin.
Baby and child funerals
No parent should ever be facing the devastating experience of losing a baby or child. Saying farewell to the tiniest of lives and to a future that is never going to be is an extremely difficult thing to do. By carefully listening to the parent’s feelings and wishes I gently offer them options to consider. As part of the ceremony, I offer to include a naming ritual for the baby. In this ritual, we welcome the child into the world. I ask parents how they would like their child to be named which will be the name it will always be known by.
A baby funeral may include a reading; a few words from the parents; lighting of a candle; music; silence; a final farewell. Parents may cover the basket with flowers; with feathers; or with a blanket. There is no template or right or wrong way of doing a funeral for a baby, it’s important to do something that is right for the parents.
Planning a funeral
I can help you plan a funeral. As a celebrant, I work with different funeral directors, crematoria and cemeteries, florists, venue managers and other suppliers. Based on your wishes, needs and budget I can advise on options that will help you organise a funeral that is right for you. Planning a funeral in advance has many advantages: it helps you define what is important for your funeral, it helps families to understand what is important for the person whose funeral they are organising, it can reduce costs and gives a structure and options for when the time comes. Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more.
Home funerals: a safe and intimate way of caring for your loved one
A home funeral invites family and friends for a healing after-death care experience. A home funeral gives time to prepare the body for a home vigil, to care for the body whilst lying in honour, and to transport the body to the place of burial or cremation. I can help you in creating ceremonies and rituals for the key moments in a home funeral process. Home funerals are legal and safe and provide a wonderful way to care for your loved one. If you would like to know more about the practical and logistical options, I can guide to towards the right person to help you.
When someone is critically ill and realises that they will be dying soon, it may give comfort to share ideas and wishes when someone is still alive. I can also help you in creating an end-of-life ritual.
Some people opt for a simple, intimate funeral ceremony shortly after someone has died, followed by a larger memorial service at a later date. I can help you organise a memorial service at a location of your choice, including ceremony design, planning and coordination on the day.
On special anniversaries (birthdays, wedding days, and dying days) it might give comfort to memorialise the deceased and share memories. This can be done at any location, and can take any form you wish. I can help create a memorial ceremony and, if you wish, conduct this on the day.
At my father’s funeral. My mum, me and my siblings lowering the coffin into the grave.
How do I work?
- Meeting in person. On most occasions I will meet with the family in person to create the most appropriate kind of funeral ceremony. Through your stories and memories we will add meaning to the life of the person who has died. I will discuss your wishes and ideas with you, and together, we will select texts, music, rituals and symbols that reflect the personality of the person. If needed we will arrange a follow-up meeting.
- Ceremony design. After our first meeting, I will deliver a first draft of the script for the funeral service. Together, we will fill in the details in the days before the service. When the script is final, we will walk through all elements of the service. This enables you and any other people involved to be well prepared for the day.
- The ceremony. On the day, I can conduct the funeral service and support any family members and friends who want to participate.
- Cremation service: from £250
- Burials: from £300
- Memorial services: from £350
- Interment /scattering of ashes ceremony: from £250
“Rosalie was an enormous help to us in organising my aunt’s funeral and was a thoughtful master of ceremonies with just the right amount of gravitas for a non-religious gathering. In particular, Rosalie was sensitive to LGBT community attending and was careful to involve lifelong friends in putting together the content of the service and deciding on the tone of the gathering (we were keen to achieve the celebration of a life well-lived, rather than focus too acutely on our loss). We were very grateful to her for organising the Order of Service formatting and printing on our behalves and even arranging taxis to the wake. I recommend Rosalie without hesitation.” – Kari H.
“Before she departed this life, Susan spoke little about her end. She did say she wanted to be cremated, she wanted a particular friend to speak about her, and she wanted us to enjoy a meal at our favourite Indian restaurant. But the rest was for the family to figure out at a difficult time of loss. Very fortunately for us, help was at hand. As soon as I spoke to Rosalie by phone, I knew she could guide us towards a beautiful and fitting occasion. And after she came to visit us and talk with us and make the first of several drafts of a script for the service, I felt confident that we had made the right choice. Rosalie’s sensitivity to Susan’s character and towards the family members and their memories and feelings was inclusive and intelligent. Her attention to detail and her availability at all stages were both excellent. The greatest compliment for Rosalie’s work as celebrant came in all innocence from a cousin who asked at the end of the service whether she was a family friend. Such is her empathetic and warm approach that, in an Age where so many of us adhere to no obvious religious community or spiritual guide, Rosalie was able to lead the celebration of Susan’s life with a kindness, dignity and assurance that made the occasion very special indeed. I highly recommend her.” – R.J.
“I wanted to extend a huge thank you to you for your kind, elegant and respectful service at my mother’s funeral. You set the tone in such a warm and gentle manner – you made us feel comforted and as calm as we could be at such a time.” – Family of E.
“Our family would like to thank you for the service and tribute you gave to our mother, and how you capture that moment in a spiritually uplifting way. Other people stated that the service was one of the best funerals that they have attended and they felt heartened by it.” – Family of N.
“I am writing to say thank you for all your wonderful help and support in organising my brother’s funeral. I suppose we are mentally prepared to eventually lose a parent but somehow it is harder to say goodbye to a sibling.
“Once we had chosen a funeral director and gone through the various options, it was a great relief to be introduced to you at their recommendation. We wanted to follow my brother’s wishes to have a non religious funeral but had no idea how to arrange one. As soon as I spoke to you and you explained the ways in which a Celebrant can help organise this important occasion, I felt completely reassured and supported. During our first, arranged phone call to talk about his life, achievements, character, family and friends, I was able to relax and include all sorts of memories.
After several emails and phone calls, together we built a picture of my brother that all who attended the funeral agreed was a good reflection of his character. Although our choice of music was pretty diverse, you were able to download and organise it into seamlessly into our chosen ‘service’. It was so good to finally meet you on the day. It felt as if you were a family friend and I will never forget your kindness and understanding. I would strongly recommend anyone in London, who is needing to organise a funeral for their loved one, to contact you for your expert, individual, caring advice. Thank you once again. You helped make a potentially difficult occasion one that we will all remember as a celebration of life, led by a kind, professional lady.” – Alison Evans
“On behalf of the entire Wetton Family I am writing to thank you for everything you did to enable our mum’s funeral to go without a hitch. We were fortunate to have you recommended to us, by your peers, as the right person to help us at the celebration of our mum’s life. From the very first draft of the script we knew you appreciated what our mum meant to us and more importantly what kind of woman she was. We could see that our memories of our mum were in safe hands. Our sincerest appreciation.” – The Wetton family
In 2018 I won the National Celebrant Award for Outstanding Celebrancy. In 2017 I was a finalist for the Good Funeral Awards and in 2016 I was Runner-Up Celebrant of the Year for the Good Funeral Awards. I hold a Master in Theology, have completed advanced training in Funeral Celebrancy and have obtained additional certificates in Child Bereavement, Baby Loss and Complicated Grief. I am a member of the Good Funeral Guild, member of Professional Fellowship of Celebrants and a supplier member of the National Association of Funeral Directors. .