I was honoured that the funeral director specifically requested me as the celebrant to support the family of a prominent individual during the pandemic.
At any other time, his funeral would have been a large and public event but we needed to work within COVID restrictions.
The most important thing when I spoke with his partner was to find balance between the private farewell that she and the family wanted and the expectations of his colleagues and friends around the world who also wanted to pay their respects.
I helped them find that balance by weaving together contributions by people from different areas of his life. Family members wrote beautiful and personal letters that I read on their behalf. We included an excerpt from a book that was a much-loved part of family life. A life-long friend gave his own tribute and I spoke about D’s worklife and achievements.
Acknowledging people on the webcast was important – some of them were very close family. Apart from speaking with them directly, we also included a candle-lighting with responses and invited everyone watching from home and work to join in. On this occasion, everyone watching spoke English – for other webcasts, I’ve included a few welcoming words in French, Spanish or German.
Despite the COVID restrictions, using a civil celebrant meant that family, friends and colleagues all felt they had been able to take part in the ceremony at Garden of England crematorium and show their love and respect.