The sudden death of a child is particularly shocking to all of us and the legal process involved leaves the family desperate as their loved one’s body becomes the property of the state, until the state releases it. This is a time of numbness and for most people a time to be in a place where they feel safe.
There is a huge sense of relief for the family when their loved one’s body is returned to them from the morgue. They can then prepare to bury or cremate the remains and allow the process to be lovingly and respectfully completed.
The celebrant’s role here cannot be underestimated. Forget platitudes. These people are going through torture and can barely cope with what is happening and saying something like’ it was his/her time’ or ‘he/she has gone to a better place’ etc is like pouring salt into an open and weeping wound.
If you get this ceremony right you will be doing so much to help the family on their road to recovery. You will really earn your money for this one.
The family may wish to run the service, but if you are fortunate enough to be taken into their trust it is a time to stay focussed and yet maintain some detachment. For a celebrant it is a delicate and sensitive experience. We need to stay connected without impinging or rescuing, and help the family to create a ceremony that is truly great.
For the family, the funeral is just the beginning of their process. Know that you have been a part of one of the most important days of this family’s life. Expect no recognition, just pray you get it right. Your service will be remembered in detail-every bow, every nuance every gesture - be prepared, be authentic.
Parents who have lost a child may feel like they are disappearing into a black hole of grief. Some people actually die from what can only be described as a broken heart as the experience of grief consumes them and takes them into a process that drowns them particularly if it is a death that requires the involvement of the coroner. It is important as a celebrant to remain open and present.
We as celebrants can bring a lot of beauty into the experience.
There is a saying ‘if it doesn’t kill you it will only make you stronger’ but I believe ‘that if it doesn’t kill you it will only make you gentler and kinder’