Choice Ceremonies - Providing Personalised Ceremonies
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Choice Farewells - Person Centred Funeral Ceremonies
Giving honour and thanks for a loved one's life, saying farewell in a personal and meaningful way

 

A funeral which is well planned and gently implemented in a caring, well thought out ceremony can contribute so much to the healing of grief.

 

Choice Farewells offers you the opportunity to create such a ceremony. 

In a eulogy of love we will acknowledge that our lives touch so many other lives, and in that way we live on in the hearts and memories of our loved ones.

To celebrate the uniqueness each one of us brings to life the ceremony will be a compilation of memories, tributes and farewells. By recalling even the mundane times we describe the nature and character of the person and the service becomes very personal and appropriate.

The good memories will make us smile, but it is important to also acknowledge the sad ones, which may be painful, but we can spend time talking these through.

You will want to consider the form the service will take, which may reflect hobbies and interests, beliefs and culture. Our sensitive and caring minister will not rush you to make up your mind; and as you discuss your preparations will want to listen not only to the details but also to your feelings.

For instance, you may need to work through the trauma of the death, you may have practical or spiritual questions you would like to discuss, or just have a warm friendly person who can help you with your options.

We can send the ceremony drafts back and forth until everyone is happy with the final result. We don’t mind how many drafts we have to prepare and send; we are only satisfied when you are entirely happy that the service is the one you want.

If you would like our minister to be with you and your family at any time please ask. We might not have the answers but we can travel with you on your journey and when the ending of this life comes we will be honoured to be there.

If you so wish, we are able to give the ‘last rites’ in any form which will meaningful to you and your loved ones.

Click on the images above for some ideas to create a personal ceremony for your loved one
…I was not expecting to feel comforted but I was. I found your words very moving and totally appropriate and am so grateful that YOU conducted the service. It was a very sad day but at the end of it I felt it had been a very fitting goodbye…

The noise of all the talk obliterates feelings.
Feelings are silenced by the nervous noise of care and concern.
We the bereaved need permission to sit in companionable quietness.
To be quiet.
To talk
To let feelings come out unbidden.
Let them bubble up and spill out, and flow
Sit alongside us. Encourage by gentle touch of the hand.
A caring look. Soothing sounds
Do not intrude with spurious thoughts or explanations
And how can another ever truly understand?
Because no-one understands
Feelings just are and need to flow like tears to cleanse and to heal.
And I need you to be here with me.

“When the visitors are here I feel so alone, helpless, foundering I don’t know what to say to make them feel better, and when they have gone I feel even more bereft.”

Choice Farewells is a bereavement service which prepares the dying and bereaved for the funeral ceremony and offers support afterwards for as long as it is needed.

A funeral is a rite of passage which needs to be prepared for. It signifies the final farewell, a letting go and a beginning. The preparation time is an important part of the service. It is very emotional to face the reality of death and let the damned up silence of our grief begin to flow. We are filled with a mixture of feelings -  of regrets, loss, anger and aloneness. But also, as we look back on a precious life, feelings of joy and love for all that has been, still remains and will continue, albeit in a different way.

It is through this time of planning the funeral ceremony that we can begin to unlock the preoccupying memories of dying and the death by talking them through until other memories start to surface.

Sunlit memories
Sad memories
Romantic memories
Happy days, despairing days, guilty days, days to treasure,
uplifting times, treasures like nuggets of gold
and so the roller coaster begins
Let us not be afraid of our sorrow
Sorrow is healing
It is the balm on the torn and scorching wound.
But we need to ride this pain called grief
we need to go right through the heart of it until we are ready for the funeral ceremony where we pay our fare ~ wells.

The fare – the priceless gift of our memories;
well
– dipping into the depth of our feelings.

And let us not be afraid to laugh again, lest others think we don’t hurt.
To laugh is to honour that life is a gift, precious, rich, and meaningful.
Tears cleanse, heal, whether it is tears of scorching pain or tears of mirth as we remember.

Thank you for the wonderful service you conducted for D. You were an immediate success at point of arrival at our house and the trip down memory lane you prompted so easily was good therapy for all the family.

Friends present at the service, believed you must have known D for quite a few years. We cannot thank you enough. You made D’s funeral as enjoyable as was humanly possible, and I believe that because of you, our grandchildren’s memories of the occasion will be pleasant ones.


At Choice Farewells we believe a good funeral is the beginning of learning to live without someone you admired, respected and loved.

By conducting a person centred ceremony Choice Farewells validates and acknowledges the whole life of the individual by taking into account not only their beliefs, but personality and the things that brought colour and distinctiveness to their lives.

The ceremony may be non-religious, follow a traditional church service or be a mixture of prose, poetry, music and memories. Whatever is chosen the service needs to be a beautiful, moving, spiritual experience by paying tribute to a life whilst saying a personal farewell.

Thank you for the extremely tasteful and appropriate service you gave…
The funeral ceremony will be printed in covered booklets for the main mourners to take away as a keepsake; and we can provide a specially handcrafted book in which the celebrant, priest, or minister conducts the ceremony and in which you may keep treasured memories, mementos and the words that best sustain and bring comfort.
In Memorandum - A Handcrafted Book By Taryn’s Treasures
Farewell Book This beautiful book is an everlasting eulogy to someone very special ~ A unique record and celebration of their life to hand on from generation to generation.

The cover is personally inscribed and the design is of your own choosing, as is the colour of the rayon cord binding the book. The illustrated text of the ceremony is printed on silk coloured parchment paper under a silk flysheet. There are 16 plain sides of handmade, acid free recycled cotton paper on which to record thoughts, feelings and memories.
Lesley
Revd. Lesley Edwards BTh MA [theo] PTC (Professionally Trained Celebrant)

Lesley writes:

As a self-employed independent minister I would like to assure you of my paramount attention to details at all times. Whilst talking to clients about the content of the funeral service I have found that most believe in God or a spiritual realm and bereaved people find comfort and hope in the belief that they will meet their loved ones after death.

But many of these people are not church attendees and do not find comfort in some of the wording provided either by the church or humanists.

Therefore, I individualise a service so that it meets the client’s requirements and beliefs, usually by commemorating the past life of the deceased person with the chance to say goodbye in a moving, gentle and personally caring manner.

Each ceremony I conduct recognises that every life is of value and worth and that when we finally die we all have something exceptional to leave behind – a legacy far more, much more, than mere possessions. We may leave a store of achievements or just a whacky sense of humour but more often then not it is simply our unique
un-quantifiable selves that someone, somewhere will always cherish in their hearts.

My niece has let me have a copy of the service, and this is such a pleasure to have and gives great comfort. So thoughtful of you to do this. … I just want to thank you and to wish you well in the future as you are providing a wonderful service to people at a time when their need is great. All good wishes R Davies

I believe our last ceremony in this world should be uplifting and inspiring, bringing hope from desperation, light in the dark. We are all realistic enough to know that ‘heaven’ is not a golf course or some all encompassing wonderland on some universal plain – but a metaphor of hope and myth drawn for us as a story illustrating a deeper, wordless truth. I believe that as a society we need people who understand what loss means, are caring and compassionate, yes, and with a developed sense of the ceremonial.

Thank you for making my dear husband John’s funeral service such a peaceful occasion. My little great grand-daughter has taken the seeds you gave her to Ireland to plant in her grannies garden …
People who are dedicated and have the time to not only be with those who grieve before the ceremony, but to be ‘there’ for them in the days and weeks after, to give the promise, the hope for tomorrow. We know there are the right people for such work. From the beginning of time communities have appointed someone to this task – it is part of our human nature, our culture, our survival as a community of people. We believe we can provide you with the service you want.

Background reasons for creating Choice Farewells

When someone dies the nearest and dearest are generally remembering that person at their best and want others to think well of them too. (Because that after all is how we all would like to be remembered when our time comes). But what we most want is to be able to say our goodbyes in a dignified, respectful and devout way.

Dear Revd. Lesley Edwards,
… You made the service so memorable to me - it was loving and caring, joyous and such a lovely personal tribute to Jean.

I have been to one or two funerals recently and they were formal and repetitive and in no way a fond farewell to a dear friend ‑ as someone remarked to me "a supermarket funeral".
The church springs to mind with its beautiful, if incomprehensible, liturgy.

And so the local minister is called in even if the deceased has not been inside the Church of England other than the occasional Christmas Eve service or for baptisms, weddings and funerals.

Unfortunately this can be a bit of a let down because the beautiful liturgy does not express our own hopes and beliefs or reflect the unique nature of someone who was such a very special individual.

Nobody will sing the hymns and everyone is too self conscious to join in with the
Lord ’s Prayer because the wording keeps changing. The minister may be elderly and a little tired or perhaps preoccupied by the ever increasing amount of work the parish demands from them.

… Your service for Ron was so special, that you lifted the hearts of the whole family…

… My boys and their families were so touched…
Seven per cent of the population attend church yet the state church, the Church of England, still conducts 90% of funeral services.
Although over 90% of the population still believe in some form of afterlife it rarely reflects the doctrine of the church. However, there still remains the subtle superstition at the time of death that if a certain formulaic wording is not used our loved will not enter the portals of heaven and we may never meet again.

But so often the standard form of wording at the crematorium or church seems to drone over our heads and we come away from a funeral feeling more forlorn, more bereft then ever and somehow, added to our grief, is an underlining depression stemming from hopelessness.

We feel that this beloved person has at the end not been noticed, their life not acknowledged, as if they did not exist. And there at the door as we leave are the next mourners queuing up to get this morbid business over and done with. And whilst the council treat dead bodies as environmental waste, and the church, regardless of belief, send in their over worked clergy or the funeral directors rely on retired ministers who may take ten or more funerals in a week, things cannot change.

Thank you … for the support provided and for the service… we could not have asked for anything better…

Until the ordination of woman it as generally a male priest who took the service and many deemed this right and proper and sometimes this prejudice still seems to hang on.

Yet woman priests have altered many a mourners preconception of a man being right for the job. Women can offer a different approach and perhaps allow a more gentle touch allowing emotional freedom without the macho hang-ups.

…Both Guy and I wanted to thank you for the lovely service you gave for our baby daughter….
Many more people are aware today that they can conduct the funeral service themselves.

But when the newly bereaved are distressed it is extremely difficult to stand up front to lead the mourners when your own heart is breaking.

So wouldn’t it be nice to have a minister or officiant whose sole concern was for your pain and grief?

Who would visit and have the time to listen to you and learn about the life and character of your loved one? And wouldn’t it be nice if the service was presented completely around the beliefs and values of the family?

To have written out a personal, caring, beautiful service using the kinds of imagery and words that will bring hope and comfort? To have someone to phone on a sad day and would visit if that helps, yet with no strings attached, no pews to fill, no other alternative motive but to be there for you?

… We felt the service flowed together beautifully.

Many overheard and directed comments on the wonderful service…

People are unaware that they have the choice of an independent minister whose prime concern is that the bereaved have exactly the form of service they would like and limit the services they do to no more than two a week because they will spend on average twenty hours preparing with you and for you.

Funeral directors will have on their books the names of ministers who can provided the bereaved with the kind of specialised service required but sometimes the assistants tending you will generally recommend their tried and trusted retired ministers or local clergy and lay readers and if someone does not want a religious service they generally assume you want a humanist so being aware that there are people out there that can offer an alternative needs promoting.

Thank you for the beautiful service, which you with the help of the family compiled for the funeral… we appreciated its simplicity, humour and the fact it was geared to his grandchildren.

Several people have said how sympathetic and comforting they found the service…
The bereaved still do not realise the options that are open to them. Many crematoria leave only fifteen to twenty minutes for a service in which to celebrate a person’s whole life and say a gentle goodbye and – so every minute is precious to be filled with the kind of service the bereaved need. 

People rarely realise that for a small extra fee they can book double time in a crematorium, thus gaining more time for private contemplation before the following cortege arrives.

Many, many thanks for the wonderful service … It was beautifully done and many people have said how much they enjoyed it…




It is because I believe so strongly in the need to prepare the grieving for the funeral ceremony and offer ongoing support that I have established Choice Farewells. I also provide training and support for celebrants. If you are interested in any aspect of this work or would just like to have a chat please feel free to contact me by phone on 023 8086 1256.

Yours

Lesley

Here are a few ideas on creating a personal ceremony for your loved one:

Balloons Petals
Green Balloon
Write messages and attach them to the biodegradable helium filled balloons and release them as you say good-bye
Petals
Scatter flowers or petals on the casket as you say your final goodbye
   
Candles Paper Boat
Pink Candles
Light a candle and remember the person you loved. In its light reflect on all that was good in your life together. This will bring warmth and light to the cold darkness of your pain and grief.
Paper Boat
Place in a homemade boat your goodbye messages. Light a candle and sail your boat down a river or stream. You may want to set fire to it like a Viking funeral so your written words become part of the sea and sky as they turn to smoke and ash.
Other ideas might be to have a favourite photo at the funeral and make available photo albums at the reception or plant seeds to remind you that life and death are naturally transient and yet cyclic. On Anniversaries have a special picnic or meal. Look at your photos, listen to memorable music and allow yourself to remember and to grieve.

Ceremony Extract:

Stars

You have reached a million stars that all transformed into teardrops trembling in the air. You join ten thousand little stars whose faith is diamond strong. Whilst you leave with us fragments, shining brilliantly in the deep places of our consciousness.

Paul was a scientist, yet even scientists marvel at the transcendent wonders of the universe.
A universe created from particles of stardust. Even black holes are matter. Meaning even nothingness is not void. We know, we feel love exists even though we cannot quantify its existence. Love is energy; we are all witnesses to its power.

The evidence that it must go on is so strong. Love is like a magnet drawing itself to itself and not even physical death is a barrier to this draw. Love is an eternal memory embodied in the soul, which is another mysterious essence we cannot define or I believe, death destroy.

The love Sophie and Paul had will not die but for now it surrounds their grief in a blanket of warmth and comfort. It is your love for one another Sophie, that causes you such pain now but it is this love that will carry you through to the star.
To have loved and to be loved is to live forever
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