From 9th-15th May 2016, it is Dying Matters Awareness Week, The Big Conversation This is a yearly event encouraging people to think and talk about death and dying. It may sound morbid, but it is far from. Events are held all over the UK, and I attended one as part of the Brum YODO (You Only Die Once) event held in Kings Heath Birmingham.
I was invited to attend Fletchers Bar where part of the event was held, and take part along with other Celebrants, undertakers, florists, artists creating alternatives to floral arrangements, a funeral photographer and hospice staff. The idea of the event was to inform and encourage people attending to talk about death and funeral arrangements.
I took along some examples of funeral ceremonies, or celebration of life ceremonies as I prefer to call them. They were actual ceremonies I had written and performed, and full permission to use them as part of the event was granted by the families of the deceased.
As an alternative funeral Celebrant/officiant, I also write and perform memorials ceremonies. These are either after, or in cases of direct cremation, instead of funeral ceremonies. I took along an example of a thumb print tree which I usually take to memorials and encourage all attending the memorial to leave their thumb print on the tree and write their name. This is hung in the family or relatives home as a memorial to the deceased person.
Attendees were invited to take part in decorating a coffin with personalised messages or paper flowers, pick from a selection of poems some which they would consider suitable for their own celebration of life ceremony, make a wreath out of material or speak to hospice staff.
The subject of attending death cafes, a visit to Westall Park Natural Burial Ground in Redditch two days later, discussing final wishes and taking part writing on ‘before I die I want to...’ chalkboards were informative.
As an advocate for green and natural burials, I spoke to a few people and informed them of alternative choices to traditional burials and cremations. People were intrigued to see a slideshow of funeral photographs capturing a natural burial. Funeral photography is becoming more popular and if done correctly by a skilled funeral photographer, it can be a lasting reminder of a personal life celebration, showing happy smiling faces too.
It was a fun event and not morbid at all. Information on Dying Matters can be found here.
For more information on alternative non-religious funerals, green or natural burials or memorial ceremonies; please contact me.
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Posted by Ellie Farrell