On June 10 2016, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a celebration of life service, for a colleague and friend who had recently moved on in her spiritual journey. It truly was a celebration of Jacqui’s life and I felt privileged and honoured to be there as part of her transcendence.
The Transformation of Funerals
Increasingly, the traditional British funeral is changing from that of solemnity and mourning to one of tribute and fond remembrance of the deceased’s lifetime achievements; an opportunity to remember the person when they were full of life, to laugh about the good times and keep happy memories alive as their soul moves on. The religious elements may or may not form part of the celebration – it depends on whom the person was and what they would have wanted. Sometimes, the burial or cremation is carried out during a separate service, allowing for a more private and intimate occasion for immediate family and friends; for others the celebration brings it all together. Colour is welcomed and black discouraged! After all, the afterlife is supposed to be full of light and brightness, not dark and sinister.
Being Involved In Your Goodbye
People have participated in planning their own funeral for time immemorial. It can’t be an easy task even with the strongest faith in your deity of choice. The thought of people saying farewell, pouring out their grief through tears and heartache can’t be the best way to spend your final days on this planet. Quite frankly, I should imagine it to be quite depressing. The bereaved family and friends will still go through the sadness and grief that comes with loss but you can ease that process by creating a happy memory of the day that they say their final goodbyes. The process of choosing what happens at your own celebration of life can be very cathartic; a chance to remind yourself of what you have achieved in your own lifetime as you prepare for the next stage of your journey. It’s also an opportunity to express you through different mediums such as music, poetry, anecdotes, photos, and videos – to speak from beyond the grave!
The Grieving Process
Grieving is a process that we have to go through when we lose someone that we love. It is not finalised after a funeral. It takes at least a year of the key dates such as birthdays, religious holidays and anniversaries to go by before the pain of loss becomes more bearable. They say that time is a great healer and indeed as it passes, it becomes easier to nostalgically remember someone without the gut wrenching sense of loss.
A celebration of life can play such a positive part of the grieving process, a time when we are often in shock and going through the motions of day to day life whilst preparing to send a loved one on their way. Knowing that your loved one’s wishes are being realised can come as somewhat of a relief at such a difficult time, even more so if you have been able to be with them during the planning process, a treasured moment of connectedness.
So back to Jacqui’s celebration! Her cremation had taken place the week before, so there was no coffin as the focal point The church was full of colour and light, with pictures of her over the years, around the altar. We were handed an order of service showing some of the photos. As my friends and I looked at it whilst waiting for the service to start, we were already smiling.
The service started with a small choir singing `Lean On Me’, a great choice and reminder that we all had each other, not only for that afternoon, but moving forward as we learnt to live without her physical presence. I learnt something about Jacqui that afternoon. She used to sing with the very choir that were now beautifully singing their hearts out in honour of a friend that they were also mourning for.
The service continued with hymns, prayers, readings, music, more from the choir and a moving and uplifting tribute from her son. We were treated to a video montage of her life, showing us a happy and healthy Jacqui, living a fulfilled life despite all of it’s challenges. She came to this Earth to achieve and she most certainly did so. Her final goodbye was for us to all to stand and sing along to the choir’s rendition of Pharerell William’s Happy. So we all stood up, sang and clapped along. We were Happy. Yes there were tears but we were happy. Happy to be there, happy to be celebrating and happy to have been lucky enough to have known Jacqui.
About the author: Stuart Dickson’s passion for personal development began in September 2013, when he joined a Network Marketing Company. Part of his development is increasing his spirituality and the many ways of doing this. His first blog, Happy Monday People was born from a project that came about from his personal development journeys facebook.com/Happylifepeople
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’