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Weddings have come a long way, so why not funerals?

June 01, 2019

I didn’t know what kind of reaction I’d get when I told friends I was becoming a funeral celebrant. Would they find it really morbid? Not at all. They loved the idea because unfortunately, everyone has attended funerals that left them feeling awkward and empty.

Weddings self-corrected well over a decade ago. There are so many wonderful weddings in which the script, vows, location – everything is designed from a blank canvas to mirror the couple.  We really feel their love, which floods the room and sets the stage for a love filled future.

Funerals acknowledge a loss and the lonely times ahead. That sounds like the opposite of a wedding. But maybe not.

Funerals are also about love. They celebrate the ways in which someone touched others and we loved them. At a good funeral, the room is filled with their essence. Through stories, tears, humour, and music, we gather the memories so the love lives on. Because when someone dies, the love we had for them doesn’t.

Weddings and funerals also have in common that they create a space for each of us to reflect on our own lives. We listen to a couple take their vows and ask ourselves if we are upholding our vows. Are we still showing our partner the respect, support and non-judgemental love we pledged? We listen to the stories of a deceased loved one, and are reminded of our own mortality and some of the things we might want to change in our lives. In our fast paced world, this contemplative time is valuable.

Almost every culture around the world marks both marriage and death with a communal ritual. In the west we have embraced an authentic wedding and I hope we become more comfortable planning a meaningful funeral.