Many memorial ceremonies speak to the loss experienced by family members. As Funeral Celebrants, we spend time caring for family by hearing their stories and allowing their grief to be what it is. We listen deeply for how the death affects each family member differently. I consider this holding of space to be a sacred part of my path.
But what of friends?
One of my recent Celebration of Life ceremonies, was for an 84-year-old woman with a social network more comprehensive than most people in their twenties. Two bridge clubs… lawn bowling…neighbours… an active seniors group. A bright and engaged woman, the deceased was a widow. Her social relationships were of immense importance to her. She cultivated and nurtured her garden of friends.
And so it was that at her memorial service, I witnessed the devastation on the faces of not only her family, but her friends. People she saw more often than her family. Daily in many cases. They played together, grocery shopped, sat and yakked in the sun on a park bench.
Many friends got up to speak. It was abundantly clear to me that their lives would be forever changed too. In many cases these women were elder widows too. The impact of losing a dear companion at this age is no small thing.
This experience affected me deeply. It has inspired me to nurture my own social relationships. And in my craft as a Funeral Celebrant, I have made a commitment to myself. My memorial and celebration of life ceremonies will more expansively honour the friend-relationships of elders.
Life offers teaching moments each and every day. How wonderful to grow in this way.
Funeral Celebrant Michele Davidson