THIS WEEK from May 8-14 is Dying Matters Week, which was established to encourage people to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement.
One Chadderton woman who knows more than most about the business of death is Professional Funeral Celebrant Debbie Kelly.
As a funeral celebrant, Debbie has officiated at hundreds of funerals and she says talking about your funeral plans will ensure you get the ceremony you want.
She said: “Most people will only mention their funeral is passing – I want this song at mine, or I want everyone to wear bright colours.
“However, in reality having some firm instructions will not only help your loved ones but also gives you the final say in your own farewell.”
Debbie is part of a growing trend for Oldham bereaved families to use celebrants rather than religious officiants at funerals, and also weddings and baby namings.
“If the deceased was not particularly religious, having a church funeral can seem irrelevant or hypocritical,” said Debbie.
“A celebrant service places the emphasis firmly on the person who has died, rather than a particular religion. It celebrates their life and is a totally personal ceremony.”
However, using a celebrant can also offer the best of both worlds as they can include some religious elements if the family wish.
“There is a perception that a celebrant service has to be secular but in fact it can be whatever you want,” Debbie added.
“Some families may still want a prayer, a hymn or a religious reading and they can have it.
“Only humanist celebrants won’t include religion but a civil celebrant will. Make sure you know the difference but only work with a celebrant linked to a professional association.”
Debbie added that working in the funeral industry is often uplifting: “Most families find the process of speaking to me about their loved ones quite cathartic and there is often lots of laughter as we reminisce about their life over a cup of tea.”
If you want to consider planning your own funeral ceremony, Debbie suggests writing down at least three pieces of music you like as well as thinking about any readings, prayers or poems that would be suitable.
If you would like a friend or family member to speak, you need to ask them first and discuss what particular stories you would like them to tell.
The eulogy is the main part of the ceremony which is read by the celebrant and you could write down special memories or important milestones you would like her to talk about.
Debbie added: “It’s daft to think how much planning you put into significant birthdays, your wedding or a major anniversary, but when it comes to that final celebration of your life, it doesn’t get a second thought.
“Your funeral is the last thing that’s all about you – so this week, put pen to paper and think about how you would like to be remembered.”
For more information about a celebrant funeral go to www.thebespokeceremonycompany.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org