What Happens Next?
When you have booked a Celebrant, be it through a Funeral Director or in person, then it is important to know the next steps. The 'what happens next' bit.
My first contact with you is generally over the phone. This is where I introduce myself and arrange to meet with you. I try to gauge how much information is needed at this point. All some people can cope with is setting a meeting time and date, others wish to chat and get as much information as they can. Both are absolutely fine. I am led by you at all stages of the process.
Sometimes I follow this up with a text or e-mail confirmation, again I play this by ear. Our meeting is the most important part of the process for me. It is my opportunity to reassure you, to talk through the options, and to learn about your loved one.
I always happily accept a cup of tea when I arrive (I love a cup of tea, and will talk a lot over the next couple of hours, so it is always welcome). I also find this gives me chance to get my paperwork ready and you time to relax now that you have met me. (Also if there is a cat or dog then this is my chance to give them a fuss)!
There is a rough order to the way I do things, but yet again this is always led by you. Some people already have lots of information and things to give me or show me, others just haven't been able to process anything yet and are happy to be led by me. I always like to see a photo of the person we are talking about, if possible. I find this helps me to visualise them better when we are chatting.
So in no particular order I will....
Talk about my role. I explain that I am there to host the service on your behalf, that the aim is for the service to be exactly what you wish it to be. I can make suggestions, but it is your service, your way.
Talk about the options available. It makes me sad that more people aren't aware that there are no rules around funeral services. There is no right or wrong. You can absolutely do it your way. You may well wish to stick to what has become traditional, but feel free to do your own thing. No two weddings are the same, no two 40th Birthday parties are the same, why should funerals all be the same?
Talk about your loved one. This is always the most interesting part for me, particularly if I am going to write the tribute (also known as the eulogy). I am so privileged to get to know so much about the person that you loved. I am often told family secrets that aren't to be shared, but give me a better insight to the story, what an honour. The more detail and stories I can get, then the easier it is for me to write a meaningful tribute. I take lots of notes (they certainly don't look ordered to anyone else, but it works for me)! I also always draw up a family tree. I keep this close at hand when I am at my laptop, and I find that it really helps to pull details together.
Talk about what happens on the day. This is really important, and I share every last detail as I don't want my families to be surprised by anything (or wonder about the whole head nodding thing that goes on between the Funeral Director and me at certain points).
Talk about what happens next. When I leave I want my clients to feel relaxed, and know that everything is now in hand. Part of that is the knowing exactly what happens now. So, I talk through with you the next steps. I explain what I will do, and what the Funeral Director will do, and we agree what, if anything, you need to do.
Recap. This is really important. I go back over the basics again, just to be sure everyone knows what is happening. I also make sure everyone has my contact details before I leave.
In the coming days I will keep in touch with you. I will send you the draft copy of the complete script, make any amendments and continue to send it across until you are completely happy. I keep in touch with the Funeral Directors and ensure that everything is finalised from their end too.
On the day. If I feel it is appropriate I will send a text message in the morning, just to let you know that I am thinking about you. I always arrive at least 30 minutes before the service so that I can greet anyone who arrives early, and assure them that they are in the right place. I will be waiting as the hearse arrives, and will come to the car to meet you. When you are ready (and not a moment before) we will begin the service. When the service ends I remain at hand until you leave.
A few days later I will pop a full, presentation copy of the script in the post to you. I suggest that you just tuck the envelope away and open it when you are ready, or share it with anyone who couldn't attend.
A few weeks later, if you have given your permission, then the Institute that I belong to will contact you and ask you to complete a questionnaire about me. This is really important for me, as I always strive to improve and I joined the Institute because I believe that it is important to be monitored in my profession.
I enter your life at one of the most difficult times, and I am there fleetingly.
My aim is always for you to feel that you have given the one you love the send off they deserve, and for me to have taken some of the strain away from you.
If I have achieved that then I have done my job well.