It seems the worst of the pandemic is behind us. And so, in this article, Award-Winning Funeral Celebrant and Grief Specialist Steve Game-Blackmoor, pays tribute to his celebrant colleagues working in Staffordshire.
‘To give real service, you must add something which cannot be bought or measured… and that is sincerity and integrity’ – Douglas Adams
It was heart-warming to witness the level of support key workers gave during the height of the pandemic. I’m also mindful of the heavy demands placed on funeral workers too. We are incredibly grateful to them all for their dedication and resilience in the face of such adversity and personal risk. I feel I must also pay tribute to the work of Funeral Celebrants. They have worked tirelessly throughout the height of the pandemic, with very little respite, and this continues to be the case as the country now suffers the consequences of cancelled and delayed medical appointments.
Celebrancy has found new ways of helping families say farewell to their loved ones, often having to absorb some of the worst examples of human grief and dilemma. In my opinion, I work alongside some of the best in the business, delivering services with genuine compassion, sincerity, and integrity.
Celebrancy is a wise alternative
A Celebrant is a person who is trained to officiate ceremonies and is now a popular alternative to appointing a vicar or a humanist or registrar. Rather than be restricted by doctrine or by registrar legalise, they create person-centred ceremonies, officiating unique and bespoke celebrations of life, which are all about the person who has died. And with remarkable flexibility and authenticity, they have carried and supported families facing some of the most heart-wrenching circumstances during the pandemic. I feel I must applaud them, and I’m so proud to be counted as one of them.
Here are just a few of the Funeral Celebrants I bump into daily at crematoriums and end of life venues.
Celebrant Kim Hargreaves believes that her core philosophy is to honour those who have left us with meaningful and respectful goodbyes.
A family she served commented, “We warmed to Kim as soon as we met, and she made us feel very relaxed… it made our dad’s funeral so much more bearable.”
Kate Moran received the following feedback from a family she served recently, “although it was a sad day, it was also so full of joy, celebrating her life!”
Kate says, “it’s OK to smile and laugh, we are remembering someone’s achievements, their quirks and funny sayings after all.” Kate is Scottish, a mother of boys and lover of all things bright and sparkly! She loves people and hearing stories about their lives.
Linda Bennett is an established Funeral Celebrant working in North Staffordshire. An avid Stoke City supporter who warmly conducts funerals to honour the life of a loved one.
She was recently thanked for her exceptional services by a family she served, “Linda, thank you very much for a wonderful tribute; it was a great reflection of our son’s short life. Everyone commented on the wonderful wording that brought back memories of him…”
Colin Robertson, Civil Celebrant has been working with the bereaved in Staffordshire for many years, providing a warm, respectful service. He helps families commemorate the life of loved one in unique and special ways.
An Independent Funeral Director comments, “Colin is a consummate professional, and he is so easy to work with. Our families speak very highly of him.”
Celebrant Matthew Turner says, ‘taking a funeral service is a huge privilege; it is one of the last things we do for our loved ones.’ Matthew has spent most of his adult life as a Youth and Community Worker and in Church Ministry but is now a full-time Celebrant.
A family he served recently commented, “…what you said was perfect. A sad occasion but so comforting and hugely uplifting.”
There are, of course, other celebrants who work in the area too, and they can be found via the Funeral Celebrants Directory. On behalf of grieving families, I want to thank all of them for their devotion and commitment, but above all for their unswerving professionalism. Together, we represent a highly credible alternative to the religious and life-centred institutions across the Staffordshire county.
As for me, well I have been officiating funeral ceremonies for over 21 years. I’m a theological postgraduate, a grief specialist, and a spiritual advisor. A family I served recently said that “from the moment we met Steve, we knew the ceremony we wanted was in safe hands.” They then went on to say that “our ‘celebration of Life’ for our brother became something quite exceptional.”
There is a great deal of authority in the feedback we receive from families. “Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” – Charles Eames.
It would be difficult to measure or indeed comprehend the level of our collective support to grieving families, especially over the past few years. Celebrancy has made significant strides forward and has become a very substantive alternative to the traditional norms. This means a lot to me personally, but more importantly, I know it means the world to the people we serve.
Times are changing. We no longer must conform to pre-formatted rites. Neither do we have to concede to the constraints of tradition. And this must be good news for the bereaved. After all, life is never static, it progresses. It makes all things new.
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will,
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
—Alfred Lord Tennyson