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Funeral Guilt

I don’t know about you but somehow I find myself becoming introspective and sometimes guilty when I attend a funeral service.

A precious life has left us. We realize as we hear about their lives that perhaps taking an inventory of our own life is evoked by the tribute being presented. Ever had a minister try to whip those left behind into shape with a guilt-inducing sermon? Now, not all clergy take this as an opportunity to preach, some may be following the wishes of the deceased and that is okay. I just think a little sensitivity is important at this vulnerable time.

I have sat in many services and frankly it is not the time or place to be thumping the pulpit, no matter what your spiritual situation might be, no one wants that. In speaking with pastor friends, they admit that for them it is another opportunity to give a stirring message and often they don't really know the deceased. Most of us want to hear the stories and memories. People appreciate the real stories of who this person was and how they touched our lives.

In my experience, if a person is interested in exploring spiritual things, they will find a church or a group to connect with to have their questions answered. A funeral or Celebration of Life is a time to focus on our loss.

Everyone present at the service needs to grieve their loss. A funeral is a time to honour a life and tell the story of a person who was very present in our lives. I believe that we naturally examine our lives and determine to improve how we play life out moving forward. There is no room for guilt when we honour a life. A Celebration of life is about bringing people together to promote healing and mutual support.

As a Celebrant, I appreciate all the stories that I can glean about a life and make it my privilege to put together a tribute that truly reflects the essence of the person you have lost. There is no room for guilt about would have, should of, could of and it needs to be all about good grief and leave it up to each individual present to decide how they move forward in their own lives.

Healthy grieving is something we each need to learn how to do. National studies have been done that correlate behavioural, mental health issues and divorce as potential effects of unresolved loss due to unresolved grief. We need to get back to what is important because every life is worth remembering.

Instead of “Funeral Guilt”, let’s resolve to embrace the things that drew us to the person we have lost and celebrate their legacy.

Kathleen is a Transition Coach, a TEDx speaking coach and an End of Life Celebrant. Working with people at sensitive times in their life is her passion.

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