Serving bereaved families in Shropshire, Worcestershire and beyond
email@example.com 07849 208924
As we navigate the difficult, but precious, task of preparing to say farewell to someone we love, we all need someone alongside us who we trust and feel at ease with. So if you like what you read on this site and would to talk things through, please feel free to send me an email or give me ring for a chat with no obligation.
The image of the Tree of Life perfectly symbolises my approach to Funeral Celebrancy, representing both a memorial to those who have gone before, and the knowledge that they live on through their influence in the lives of those who knew them.
The death of each of us is in the order of things: it follows life as surely as night follows day. We can take the Tree of Life as a symbol. The human race is the trunk and branches of this tree, and individual men and women are the leaves, which appear one season, flourish for a summer and then die. I too am like a leaf of this tree, and one day I shall be torn off by a storm, or simply decay and fall and mingle with the earth at its roots. But, while I live I am conscious of the tree’s flowing sap and steadfast strength. When I die and fall the Tree of Life remains, nourished to some small degreee by my life. Millions of leaves have preceded me and millions will follow me; the tree itself grows and endures.’
The Tree of Life
IbringabroadrangeofexperiencetotheroleofCivil FuneralCelebrant.I’vealwaysworkedwithpeople, initiallyineducationandcommunitymusic.Thewish tobealongsidepeopleastheygothroughsomeof themostdifficulttimesintheirlivesledmeto volunteering,firstwithSamaritans,supportingthe distressedandsuicidal,andthenwithCruse BereavementCare,supportingthosewhostruggleto copewiththeirloss.InmyprofessionallifeIretrainedasaMindfulness teacher, working with people suffering from anxiety and depression.
‘Many thanks for your care and consideration. it will not be forgotten.’
Theexperienceofbeingcloselyinvolvedincreating andleadingfuneralceremoniesfortwofamily membersencouragedmetolookintotrainingasa ProfessionalCivilFuneralCelebrant.ThemoreI foundoutabouttherole,themoreitseemedlikea perfectfit;IlovethepeopleImeet–bothmy clientsandtheotherfuneralprofessionalsIwork with.Ilovehearingpeople’sstoriesandhelping themtotelltheminawaythatbringsoutthe significanceofanindividuallife.It’saprivilegeto workcloselywithfamiliesatasuchadifficulttime, collaboratingwiththemtoputtogetheraceremony thatwillfulfiltheneedtoadequatelyhonourand acknowledgetheimportanceoftheirlovedone’s life,andallowingthemtosaytheirfarewellsinthe waythatfeelsrighttothem.AndIhaveto confessthatIalsoenjoytheexperienceofleading theceremonyontheday,ensuringthateachpart of the ceremony goes according to plan.Icompletedmytrainingin2016andhavebeen workingasaCelebranteversince.I’moftenasked howIcandothisworkthatinevitablyinvolvesa greatdealofsadness,butIcan’timagineamore rewardingjobthanhelpingpeopletoputtogether aceremonythathelpsthemgetthroughsucha difficulttime.Ilovetoworkwithpeoplefromall walksoflife,oldoryoung,ofallfaithsornone, andtocelebrateallthatmakesusthewonderful human beings we are.
‘From the time you spent with us at the house getting to know the sort of personG was, to the day of her funeral and after, my father has complimented your superb professional and personal approach to what you do. The fact you listened and were tactful and sensitive to family issues. You didn’t rush us, and the exercise of telling you all the fabulous things about our amazing Mum helped us all. The fact that you were able to paint a picture of G in your service that was so very true of her character and personality,and with the greatest of respect to her.We would like you to know how gratefulwe are to you.
Copyright Penny McCarthy 2022
Whether we see ourselves as religious or not, I believe that human beings have an innately spiritual nature, in that we all have a sense of connection with something greater – whether that’s something we call God, or something else like the earth and nature, or simply the rest of the human race. At times of great stress, such as bereavement, this sense of connection can be of enormous comfort and support When I meet with bereaved families I work with them to ensure that the final funeral ceremony embodies whatever brings them that sense of connection. In my own spiritual life I’m a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Quakers don’t have priests because we believe we’re all equally responsible for our own and our community’s spiritual wellbeing. For me, the work of a civil funeral celebrant is not so much a job, but one way of contributing to the wellbeing of the communityin which I live.
I’m based in rural Shropshire, between Bridgnorth and Ludlow and mostly work within a 30 mile radius of Bridgnorth, but if you’re further away and you like my approach, get in touch and we can talk things through.
The philosopher Herbert Read wrote these words about the Tree of Life:
‘Just a line to say thank you so much for the support you gave us before andat the crematorium for J’s service. Our phone calls and emails to me helped enormously as I had never had to do anything like this before.Your support and compassion were second to none.’
‘Thankyou again for all your support and for helping to make a very difficult occasion so much easier’