Celebrating and Memorializing a Loved One
Alongside having had the privilege of bearing witness to some of Life’s most joyous celebrations - officiating weddings and performing blessingway ceremonies for new babies and maidens entering into the realm of motherhood - I have also had the honor of being present during the sacred time of a loved one’s passing from this world to the next. My first profound experience with death occurred in my childhood, as I cradled the head of my best friend - a sweet appaloosa horse named Patch, as he took his final breath. I watched the light slip from his eyes and in that moment I was changed forever. I felt the hallowed sanctity of that liminal space with great reverence and awe, and it instilled in me an appreciation for the often-feared state we know as death and dying.
Throughout my youth and into adulthood I experienced an ongoing procession of loss in the form of grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, dear friends, family friends, teachers, acquaintances, lovers, a boyfriend, children that I knew, and friend’s babies. With each loss my heart ached and swelled with powerful remembrance and wonder at the delicacy and preciousness of Life. Over time I ceased to resist this natural part of the human experience, and I began to count myself as oddly lucky. I realized with each loss the depths with which I am capable of loving people.
It is truly an honor to support family members, friends and community members as they celebrate the life and legacy of their loved ones. In doing so I strive to meet people right where they are - whether that be in the throes of crippling grief or in the incandescent light of joyful remembrance. Creating ceremony around the end of a life has been a sacred ritual for thousands of years. I feel deeply moved by the opportunity to continue that timeless tradition, bringing dignity and sanctity to the telling of one’s life story and allowing for healing to occur through ritualistic release.
Whether your family is spiritual, religious, or entirely non-denominational, I would love to support you in designing the perfect ceremony that represents your beloved friend or family member. Below you will find an outline of my End of Life ceremonial offerings.
Celebration of Life Ceremony
When you think of your loved one, how do you want their beauty, their humor, their wit, personality, character and unique story to be told? What celebration would do their individual life justice, and what does your family and circle of friends need to usher in healing and a sense of closure in the wake of loss? I will support you in designing a beautiful celebration of your loved one’s life, weaving in whatever elements that you and they desire - altars, music, poems, prayers - leaving room for the full spectrum of human emotions. Celebration of Life ceremonies can take place outside in nature, in a location that was special to your loved one, in your home or in a place of worship. Designing such a ceremony is a fluid, organic process that we will co-create together.
Church and Home Funerals and Memorial Services
Like a Celebration of Life or End of Life ceremony, more formal funerals and memorial services bring a similar sense of celebration, healing and transition to a family and community. Whether you identify as religious, spiritual or entirely non-denominational, I will guide you to create a church or home funeral or memorial service that will deeply honor your deceased loved one. Funerals and memorial services may include a vigil, or a viewing of the body. Prior to that, the body may be prepared for cremation or burial through ritualistic acts such as washing, shrouding, anointing, dressing and through adornment. This is a delicate, precious time that brings us closer to the deceased and to the mystery of death while allowing for an incredible sense of honoring. Ceremonially preparing a body for cremation or burial is a timeless practice that spans thousands of years and is performed around the world in many cultures and religious traditions.
Ash Scattering Ceremony
After cremation, the scattering of a loved one’s ashes is a symbolic gesture of honoring and release. This can happen immediately following a person’s death, or in a time that feels appropriate to family members and friends. The guidance of a ceremonialist can feel especially supportive during this time, to hold a deep space of reverence and to honor the spectrum of emotions that may be present. Returning a loved one’s essence the natural elements is a powerful act, and often brings a sense of peace, reflection and communion with the deceased and to God or Spirit. I will assist your family in whatever way necessary, from helping to design the ceremony to its delivery on the day of.
Similar to the scattering of ashes, many families choose to plant a tree or a garden in honor of a lost loved one. This not only allows for a ceremonial letting go, bringing a sense of closure to the heart, but it also anchors a person’s essence in a physical location. This creates a beautiful opportunity to visit a lost loved one in a tranquil, beautiful natural setting, and allows their spirit to live on in the enjoyment of others.
Tree or Garden Planting Ceremony
In some situations, a memorial is created to honor the life and legacy of a loved one. This may look like an art installation, a bench, or the construction of a new building, to name just a few possibilities. With the designation of a memorial, a special ceremony brings to life the contribution of the deceased and allows family and friends gathered to celebrate both their life and their legacy.
Memorial Designation Ceremony
As life-long animal lover, I understand the profound sense of loss that can occur when one of our beloved pets journeys over the “Rainbow Bridge.” These special beings are cherished members of our family. I will support you in honoring their lives through ceremony in whatever way feels appropriate, as you would a human relative.