It is such an honour to hold the key to some of the most memorable moments in a person’s life. It has taken a good many years and lots of twists and turns. This has been my life’s work in the making since I was in my early 20’s, I suppose.
Over time I have discovered how important it is to strive to be the best version of myself along the way, nourishing and developing what I can bring to my profession and the quality of my skills. I was never going to pay lip service to it; it was always going to be a matter of vocation for me.
My call is to help give a voice to our love and happiness as human beings, as well as our pain and loss.
Love and Happiness, Pain and Loss.
When you think about it, we’re actually defined by them. Everything has its time; everything comes to an end. Through my own experience, through my study of religion and philosophy, I have discovered that these are the four things that especially preoccupy our lives. I suppose they give meaning and purpose to them. In essence, every book or poem, movie or painting will be inspired by them in some way or another.
Our shared human experience yearns to be articulated and celebrated – given a voice. We invest so much in the Arts because they give expression to our feelings and ideas. One of the reasons I struggle with the concept of direct cremations with no ceremony or cohabiting as a couple without any communal recognition, is because they take away that voice. In my opinion, they lessen our humanness and forget that every life is indeed sacred and precious.
Hopes and dreams
It’s important to recognise our hopes and dreams and to find ways of giving them expression. They provide so much meaning and direction in our lives, it would be foolhardy to brush them to one side.
Dr Debasish Mridha, an American philosopher, says that “it feels wonderful when you fly with hopes and dreams.” It feels wonderful because they are true. This is not some ‘pie in the sky concept’; it is unquestionably a part of being human. Contrary to what the pragmatists may think, this is not fanciful thinking. Our hopes and our dreams are real.
My dream became bigger and more real, the more I realised that my vocation was to help people mark the turning points in their lives ceremonially, but also alongside specialist support.
Some recent feedback from a logician called Adrian sums this up beautifully, “I wanted a sensitive [funeral service] and a thoroughly thought-out tribute, warts and all. I wanted musical and visual tributes that were philosophical, not religious, uplifting, not sorrowful…Steve listened to our thoughts and feelings like a friend who had suffered the same loss…and translated these into a perfect tribute for my brother.” The skill of being able to translate another’s hopes and dreams has taken many years to develop. A lot of blood, sweat and tears. And this alone raises a question about authority and training.
Who gave you the right to do this?
A little religion to reference, Mark 11.28, “They demanded, [from Jesus] “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” Since leaving the church in 2014, this question echoes still in my thoughts. Perhaps it resonates with you too, and it’s an important one. My answer is simply this: my authority comes from the many people I have served over the past 21 years – it comes from people like Adrian. And it comes from a persistent sense of call. I have experienced many challenges and put downs. But I refuse to be disheartened, because people like Adrian and his brother need that voice.
In an ever-increasing globalised society, the importance of dreaming bigger cannot be overstated. As the world evolves, striving to become better creates exciting new opportunities, as well as challenges. It is the only way I can continue to offer quality and compassionate services, both as a Funeral Celebrant and a Grief Specialist. And so, every opportunity to become bigger and better will be grasped, not for me, but so that I can be better for you.