It’s relatively easy to conduct a ceremony that is light and full of joy. That usually goes for a wedding or celebration.
Sure, there will be solemn sections, although even these can be tempered with amusing moments. (Think of a couple’s own Vows, for instance.) Moreover, the protagonists have normally chosen to be there, and are excited and happy with the way their event will be celebrated. The guests are usually supportive and good-humoured. So the atmosphere is likely to be cheery.
It’s not the same when it comes to a funeral. There has to be a space for grieving, although I believe that the funeral should mainly be a commemoration of life. But there can be room for humorous readings/poems, if that is appropriate. The eulogy offers the greatest potential for raising a smile, especially if the deceased had a great sense of humour. You want to reflect their personality, if possible.
You have to balance this with the family’s wishes (which may not be the same for each family member) and, arguably, guests’ expectations.
So these are some of the elements that a civil celebrant like myself has to balance when writing the service.
Naturally, when I get this (and my delivery) right, it is the source of great pride and satisfaction for me. It may well be even more fulfilling than getting a celebration’ right’.
I did want to share this recent testimonial from a wonderful family, who lost a husband/father all too young. It’s reading things like this that make my work so worthwhile!
“Michael led the funeral service for my late husband and his care, compassion, and professionalism were evident all the way through the process. He took time to get to know us as a family unit, paying meticulous attention to detail to make sure the content of the service was just right. His delivery on the day was perfect, mixing in just the right amount of humour, and leading us all through the proceedings calmly and sensitively.
“The feedback from attendees was that it was a fitting tribute to my husband, and that his personality shone through every moment. I thank Michael from the bottom of my heart for everything he did to support us before, during, and afterwards, making that what could have been a traumatic day was actually a true and wonderful celebration of my husband’s life.”