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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