Some words of advice, wisdom, and comfort from Aberdeen Celebrant, Karen Farquhar.
The most common expression I’ve heard from people I know, since qualifying as a Celebrant has been “I don’t know how you could do that, I couldn’t” …… And knowing your own ability and capability is a strength in itself.
Like most people, I had a fear of death, coffins and most things associated with it. I’d attend funerals, hear the opening chords of ‘Abide With Me’ and I’d be a blubbering wreck. So what changed?
I did. As I got older, I accepted that death was a natural part of life.
But what I couldn’t accept was how impersonal some of the services I attended were.
Sorry, who are we here to say farewell to?
You’d be lucky if your loved one was mentioned three times throughout the service. And why was the service all ‘doom and gloom’?
Yes, we were sad, of course we were, bereavement is undoubtedly one of the most distressing of human experiences, but during the final farewell, it shouldn’t be the death we focus on, it’s the life that the person lived.
And that’s why I decided to become a Celebrant.
It’s something I had wanted to pursue for years, but because of work and raising my family, it just never seemed the right time.
I knew I could make a difference. I knew I could help.
And I knew, more than anything else, that I could give the deceased the send-off they deserved. So, when things changed, and opportunity knocked, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and follow my dream.
My first ‘service’ per se, was my own dad’s funeral.
Being super organised, dad had a pre-paid funeral plan and had even chosen his minister!
I had just started my training with the Caledonian Humanist Association and although not qualified, I felt that there was nobody better to conduct his service than me.
However, respecting Dad’s wishes, we still had his chosen minister, but I wrote and conducted his tribute. During the service, people laughed and people cried. But, one thing everyone agreed on and left there thinking was, yes, that was my dad!
One of my cousins sent me a message afterwards saying that at the end, she wanted to stand up and applaud, but didn’t think it appropriate. To be honest, being exceptionally close to my Dad, I don’t know how I got through that service, but kept thinking that it was the last thing I could ever do for him. And I wanted to do him proud.
And the rest they say, is history. I finally qualified in July, and yesterday, I conducted my tenth service.
I’ve met with ten grieving families, and I have been able to empathise with each and every one, bringing a wee bit of comfort during their darkest hours.
I have my own unique style, and I want to do the best I possibly can for each and every one of them. I am so humbled, honoured and privileged to be invited to compose and conduct the service, giving their loved one the final farewell they deserve.
The service is all about them, their lives, trials and tribulations, a dignified but true reflection of the person they were. There will be tears and there is laughter, because that’s just how life is.
So, back to my initial statement, when people say ‘I don’t know how you can do that’ my response is always, ‘because I want to’.
I am a caring and nurturing person, a ‘hugger’ , very tactile always wanting to help and do my very best.
Yes, I get nervous before each and every service – if it wasn’t for the lectern, you’d probably see my knees shaking, and sometimes, afterwards, I sit in the car and have a right good cry – I am human.
But going home, knowing that I’ve made a difference, I’ve brought some small comfort to the family and that I’m doing something of value, makes it all worthwhile. I’ve finally found my place in life – my vocation.