Simultaneously celebrating and grieving the life of someone who has passed away is a process that takes place at funerals and memorial ceremonies that typically occur soon after the person has died. It’s important to get right the style of ceremony that reflects the person concerned, to honour them and tell of the love we have for them.
At a time when your loved one has died, emotions can run high. For LGBTI people, those emotions can be further exacerbated by how they’re treated by those arranging the funeral, including the celebrant. The time when a loved one has died is a time when people can be very vulnerable and exposed. Gay people want and expect to be treated with respect and dignity at such a time.
For example, we expect:
to not have to be careful about what we say or don’t say in arranging our loved one’s funeral.
the use of language that is appropriate: ie affirming, accepting and non-judgmental. We shouldn’t have to educate celebrants about the type of language to use or not use when dealing with them. We simply don’t have the energy or the will to, in times of grief.
our relationship with our loved one and our broader relationships with our same-sex friends to be warmly and naturally acknowledged and embraced, without judgement.
our relationships to be recognized and our stories to be told – honestly.
an authentic ceremony that genuinely reflects the loved one, rather than a detached ceremony that could be about anybody.
to not be rushed or pressured into making decisions about the funeral arrangements or the ceremony.
to be centrally involved in the ceremony and to co-develop the funeral ceremony rather than have one drafted by family members that ignores the wishes of the deceased and is perhaps silent about their relationship.
sensitivity and honesty in our dealings, rather than being made to feel like we come under some heading titled “other”.
to have control over the style and content of the funeral ceremony that reflect the wishes of the deceased – eg eulogy, music; readings; tributes, each of which can add greatly to the funeral being an authentic reflection of the person who has died.
If you’re looking for a gay funeral celebrant who treats people as I’ve outlined above, please contact me. And as a proud member of the LGBTI community, I am highly aware of the family politics that often plays out around the death of our gay loved ones.
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