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  • Writer's pictureRuth Jewell

Inclusive Services

It is really important, that everyone who wants to say goodbye can be accommodated.

One of the things that I feel strongly about is how important it is for people to be an inclusive part of our society, no matter what their creed, colour, ability, religion, or physical or mental need. It breaks my heart to read, and hear, stories of people locked away in the past just because they had learning difficulties, or have been treated badly because of their religious choices or skin colour. Unless someone is of danger to society, or themselves, or needs medical help that can only be provided in a special setting, then they should be able to take their place in their chosen community, and this applies equally to a Celebration of Life service.

As a Celebrant there are many things that I can do to support everyone attending a funeral service. This may just be simply talking through exactly what will happen on the day, or providing a video or photos of the venue, so that those who may struggle in a strange situation feel more comfortable. I can also help to arrange a visit beforehand, when it is quiet, so that on the day it isn’t quite so overwhelming.

There are always organisations that can help, such as those who provide interpreters. In the past I have arranged for the script to be translated into another language, so that those who don’t have English as their first language can follow the service, and an Undertaker arranged for a sign language interpreter to stand beside me and sign the service.

I always explain that it is fine if someone needs to get up and move around, or likes to interact by clapping or shouting out. Audience participation is always fine, and often lightens the atmosphere. For me I like to think of the service as a family occasion, so children or others who would normally interact during a get together are welcome to do so.

It is equally important that everyone feels as comforted as possible. If that means that they bring a favourite item with them to hold, then of course that is absolutely fine.

Should anyone have mobility issues, then I can liaise with the Funeral Director, and the venue, to ensure that they have the appropriate access and are made as comfortable as possible. This may just be seating someone with a broken leg ahead of everyone else entering, or ensuring there is clear access for a wheelchair to be placed with the close family at the front. Whatever is needed can be arranged and catered for.

Everyone has a right to be able to say their goodbyes to the person they loved, and should feel that they are able to attend, no matter what measures need to be put in place, and I always work closely with the family and the Funeral Director to ensure this happens. Saying goodbye is important to us all.


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