Love Letters Are Not Just For Couples

This week my Nana turns 95, and as we live a great distance apart, I’m unable to be there for her birthday. So, I wrote her a love letter and popped it in the mail for my uncle to deliver on her special day.

What do I mean by “love letter?” A letter (or video message, song, or poem) to someone you care about, expressing what you love about them, your gratitude for what they bring to your life, and the impact they have had on you. So often these words of the heart are only shared when someone is dying, or at funerals and memorials. Why not share them now?

The “rite” way to turn around a bad day

Let’s say that it’s been that kind of day. Where you lose your keys, and in hunting for them, come across unfinished projects, forgotten messes, and a bill that someone forgot to pay. Your coffee spills, you get stuck in traffic and maybe, just maybe, you now have a headache. It’s the kind of day when everything’s wrong.

What can you do to turn your day around? You may choose the oft-touted healthy strategies of exercise, meditation and relaxation. Or, let’s face it, when we’re having a bad day most of us resort to indulging, distracting, or medicating.

I’d like to offer you another option that you probably haven’t considered: a rite or ritual based on something you already need to do. What makes it a “rite” or “ritual,” is that it is done with purpose and intention.

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Collective Memoir for an 80th Birthday

IMG_1789When I offered to act as an informal M.C. and Celebrant for my mother-in-law, Sheila’s, 80th birthday party, there were many possible options. In addition to speeches by family and friends, we could share some of her life events and stories, maybe have a trivia game based on little-known facts about her, or convey some of her life-taught wisdom.

When I talked to Sheila about what she wanted, and more importantly didn’t want to happen at her birthday party, I learned that aside from speeches, these ideas did not appeal to her. I wondered, what else might allow a group of family and friends to share some memories and express their love for her, in a way that she would be comfortable with? What hadn’t I thought of?

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Called to be a Funeral Celebrant

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Kerry and Laura, 1995

“Why would you want to do funerals?”

This is the unspoken question I often see in the face of a new acquaintance when I explain that I help families create funeral and memorial ceremonies. Writing and officiating custom-made wedding and baby ceremonies makes sense to people—after all, they’re happy occasions! But to choose to work with funerals on a regular basis…the very thought makes most people uncomfortable.

It is not an easy vocation, to be sure. It can be unpredictable, testing, and heart-breaking. So why do I feel a strong pull to end-of-life ceremonies? The seeds of my involvement were planted over sixteen years ago.

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