Often when meeting with a family after the loss of a loved one to plan a life celebration a family member will often say, “I don’t know how you do this when you didn’t know the person.” Or “How do you do this every day being with grieving people?”
When planning a life celebration, the key is listening to the people who are sharing thoughts, feelings, and reflections of their family member. To have a life celebration that truly reflects who the person was, how they lived and loved, helps the family to heal. One never really stops grieving a loss, it doesn’t get easier, it softens as time moves forward. It’s not actual or physical time that heals the pain it’s the love and friendship of those around you.
Sometimes I help create a life celebration for a person who I didn’t know or at times I have known the person. It’s a matter of taking everything you have learned or known about them and putting a life story together. Taking the moments of a person’s life whether they were twenty or ninety or somewhere in between and putting the story together. Their story is personal and heartfelt it’s not generic or canned, its one of a kind and it deserves to be told.
It is often said that it takes a special person to do the job you do. Every person whether it be a funeral celebrant, a nurse, doctor, clergy person, etc., each person is special. More often than not a profession picks the person and not the other way around. To be honest there are people who from a very young age know what they want to be when they grow up and some find their way as they go through life. A child is often asked what they want to be when they grow up and their answer is a doctor, an astronaut, lawyer, nurse, policemen or some may answer someone who helps others in some way.
When I was asked the question, I said a garbage man, I knew at young age it was a service that needed to be done and why not. Even then I knew I wanted to do something different then what everyone else wanted to do. As I look back in life, I realize now I was being prepared for what I do today, helping others through a difficult time, showing compassion, sensitivity, and caring.
How does this answer the question above, “How do you do this every day being with grieving people?” The best possible answer is this knowing I have sat with one in grief and listened carefully and helped them on their journey is what matters most. At the end of each day, it isn’t about me it’s about the families we serve.