My Mum’s Funeral: Celebration of a Life Completed

I recently had a very different day at my mum’s funeral, a celebration of a life, and one that was quite a new experience for me. In fact, in many ways it was one of the most beautiful days I have had in a while.

My experience of funerals in previous years was not the same as this as I always found funerals overwhelmingly sad and intense occasions where I felt very uncomfortable and unsettled. I have in my life been to a number of funerals, including one for one of my younger brothers. So in approaching this recent funeral, my memories and experience were of heaviness… and yet, somewhere deep inside me this time around I felt a joy and an honour, as well as a curiosity.

My mum had passed over around 10 days before the funeral. She had been ill for 14 months and whilst there had been some intense times during this, once it was clear her body was preparing to die, it felt like a natural cycle, and one I learned a lot about in being with her during this time.

Once my mum realised she was going to die she spoke with us all individually and as a family about her own funeral; also there was time for us each to talk about and heal things that had happened in the past. I was humbled in observing her have time with different relatives and friends while she expressed all she felt she needed, and offered them each time to express to her their own feelings and perspectives on the past, and on life in general. During that time I cherished our conversations about our life together and developed a deeper understanding of her, and of my own life, too.

Once mum had passed over, in the days that followed my family and I carefully and lovingly planned the funeral based on her wishes as she had left us detailed instructions as to what she wanted, including the music, a choice to be cremated, as well as wanting us to share a cup of tea after the funeral with all her friends and relatives in celebration of her life.

On the day of the funeral I took the time to prepare for the day with a loving walk in the countryside, a hearty breakfast, a long hot bath, and chose to wear a beautiful dress I have, taking time to tend to myself lovingly, and delicately.

I then went to the florist’s and chose an enormous, beautiful smelling (with fresh eucalyptus amongst other things) bouquet of flowers as well as some large pots of fresh lavender for the place where the celebratory cup of tea was to be held afterwards, and on the way to the funeral took the flowers and lavender pots to place them where people would brush past and smell the gorgeous and delicate scents.

The short, simple service for the funeral was carried out to a room bursting full of people of all ages who had been connected to my mum during her life.

I spoke at the funeral in celebration of my mum, and also in celebration of all those who were in the room. I could palpably feel much appreciation for all those present, the parts they had played and the support they had offered at times in my mum’s life, and this was very much a celebration for me to be with them all.

As everyone shuffled out of the funeral it felt joyful to look into each of their eyes, and hug every one of them. Some I hadn’t seen for decades, some I’d never met but heard about, and others I had had more recent contact with – all beautiful people.

We then went on to the venue where the celebratory cup of tea was held. During those few hours I loved reconnecting with everyone in that room, with stories from the past, memories of my mum, and playful reminders of different stages of my own life too. It was a privilege to spend time with all of these people. It was a joy as all the while I could smell the beautiful flowers and see outside of the venue to a lake with beautiful birds gracing the skyline. I knew my mum would have loved this cup of tea and celebration.

It was also a joyful day for me as I absolutely adored my mum; she was a truly lovely lady who had graced my life in so many ways. I treasured our relationship and the life we had shared together, and on this day I reflected on this and how much fun and learning we had together, as well as the many things we had experienced together. This day was a celebration of her; of her grace, her beauty and her loveliness, and the day felt complete as I tidied up at the venue once everyone else had left.

As I walked to my car early that evening four beautiful ducks flew directly over my head, and I smiled – it was a funeral yes, but also a celebration, a completion, and end of an era. One that had been shared by many others, and one I had enjoyed in so many ways, particularly in connecting with them all over a cup of tea. I love being with people, and that day I was able to truly appreciate the loveliness of every single one of them.

By Jane Keep, UK

904 thoughts on “My Mum’s Funeral: Celebration of a Life Completed

  1. Discussing death and passing over just as we would any other topic of daily conversation brings more light to the topic and allows people to see it more as a part of life and not one of heavy emotion and sorrow. It also allows for many images and beliefs around death to be outed and a true understanding of life and the beautiful cycles we all encounter.

  2. I loved reading this blog as a celebration is exactly what funerals should be. I also was struck by the quality in which your mum dealt with her approaching death. It felt lovely to read about her conversations with relatives and loved ones. It felt like a completion and clearing to make way for the new.

  3. It is truly beautiful to read about dying and funerals filled with and approached in such enormous love… breaking the a heavy and emotional consciousness that serves no one. As gorgeous as it is evolutionary.

  4. I recently attended a funeral of a good friend, and I was struck by the heavy emotional consciousness that surrounds these events. It is so laden. I was not feeling that because I was there to celebrate the life of my friend, who had been such a cheeky, funny, playful fella amongst many other things. So during the funeral some funny things were shared and I laughed out loud. I received comments back that people appreciated the joy in my laughter.

    I acknowledge that funerals for many are a super sad time, but they can also be a joy-full time as we celebrate a person’s life and the qualities that they brought to this world. Your story is a gorgeous example of this Jane, and thank you for sharing that with us all.

    1. Whether a funeral is super sad or a celebration depends on our relationships with the person who has died. What you and Jane have shared is is very beautiful and shows that because of the relationships shared they can be very beautiful, which is something that is very much craved given the response both you and Jane had from some that were present.

  5. I have just begun working at our local hospice and it has been a very freeing experience to be around people who do not hold back from talking about death; after all it is part of our cycle of life and inevitable. So why do many not feel at all comfortable about talking about it, pretending it won’t happen, well not until they have lived for a very long time. I have been having this conversation with my adult children for quite a while now so they know everything that they need to know when this time comes for me and that they are then fully prepared to honour the choices that are important to me.

  6. This is such a lovely account of what is possible at a funeral. Recently I was supporting a friend with the death of her mother and I was struck with how candidly family and friends spoke about the deceased person, it was so refreshing, why don’t we speak so freely when someone is alive? There were some hilarious memories shared and you definitely got a much more realistic picture of their strengths, it was an amazing experience.

  7. I love the idea of death being a life completed – then… what’s next? Because something always begins when something else ends…

  8. What an inspiring woman your mother is. It’s amazing how she dedicated the remaining of her life to bringing it to completion – so that she would be ready, as would everyone around her – for the next phase of the cycle to begin. Nothing left unsaid. And how amazing she was graciously afforded the space to do so.

  9. To consider life as something ongoing makes perfect sense to me, and asks me to take responsibility for the choices I make today and tomorrow as they determine what it is I will be living with the day after that. The same applies to this life, for the next and the next. Choose to stay the same and not evolve, and I will just come back to repeat the same again. Sounds like Groundhog day…

  10. Expression makes the world of difference at anytime. When we share how we truly feel, get it off our chest, so to speak, then we are not carrying the weight of words left unsaid. Expression is so important and the more we confirm what we feel by saying it when needed, the more we start to sense and feel with life. I wonder if the funeral would have been different if your mum didn’t spend time expressing all she needed to.

  11. I love the sense of simplicity of everyone getting together for a cup of tea after the funeral. It is an act of connection that seems so honouring of someone’s passing. The other clear reflection here is one of the power of appreciation. How different our days can be if we live in appreciation rather than regret.

  12. Its wonderful to see what is possible in the true celebration of someones life. But more than that a celebration of the life that was shared with all that as present. Even though we miss someone’s presence how can we be sad or grieve when what was shared was lived to the full.

  13. What comes across in your description Jane is a sense of absolute acceptance, both in you and your Mum. It seems this has stripped away any intensity of emotion and allowed you room to see this event’s true beauty. I feel like this way of being applies equally to all our life not just to passing over, what you have written certainly encourages me to accept my life just as it is today without drama.

  14. What oozes from your blog Jane, is such an appreciation of your Mum, of you and of all those with you both in all of this. No drama, just a contentment and a joy in celebration of a life lived and what an amazing way to have the dying process handled, to be so up front about it and discuss and plan it in detail, this is the way to do it.

  15. All lives should be celebrated – sometimes all too often it is only when someone has passed or left our lives that we begin to truly appreciate them

  16. A death mourned is an example of life misunderstood. One thing we are all born to do is die, thus we should embrace it and ensure that we utilise our time here on earth to bring Love into our society.

  17. Your experience feels very beautiful, Jane. Rather than being sad and morose, there is a feeling of love, lightness, sensitivity, joy and grace to your experience. It feels like it was a very special time.

  18. An extremely touching account of a day and a life. As I was reading the article I was thinking of how blessed you would be to be able to speak to everyone like that before you die, to be able to detail how you want the funeral to be and then also have trusted people who actually carry out your wishes. The lady described in this article has marked something important for us all and why chance to see if it will be the same for us all. I mean a lot of people are taken suddenly or don’t have the time and space to be able to take care of everything before they die. The important thing or message for me is plan now and I don’t mean do everything with the thought you are going to die but I am meaning plan for the future and speak to people or have the relationship now with them as if it was the most important thing you were doing and there was nothing else after. No leave it for tomorrow or I will tell them next time or I will do it later which these in themselves seem to keep knocking everything on to this date sometime in the future. What inspired me is that the way we hold and care for people and ourselves needs to have not only a true quality but a dedication and that way you don’t need to leave it until your final day or for one moment, it’s there naturally always and then loves you even when you are gone.

  19. It’s like there is some societal code that funerals must be a certain way. That they are heavy and anything else would be disrespectful to the dead. But is this how we in truth want a funeral to be or are we simply following suit with the done thing?

  20. Having attended quite a few funerals when I was young I was really struck by how heavy the spaces felt and the deep emotion that enveloped the ceremonies. What you have so joyfully offered here Jane is an opportunity to not only celebrate your mother’s passing and the life she lived but to also celebrate and appreciate all of the people around her too and that shows the level of community and togetherness we can all truly appreciate and consider in these times. Thank you.

  21. I was at a funeral a few weeks back and while it was sad what a lot of us overwhelmingly took from it was how much closer we have becomes as a result. While the service was pretty serious afterwards everyone was talking about how things were and how much we all enjoy catching up. Since then we have spoken and seen each other more and it was like it was when we were younger. Almost as a result of the funeral something was rekindled, or reawakened in us all and now we see each other differently. It was also time we took to appreciate how the person that passed touched us and I can see from that that those qualities or values are very much more deeply alive in me. As I said while the passing was sad what has come after has been everything but that and it’s like we have been all given a different view and a fresh look.

  22. Beautiful to read how lovingly you prepared for your mum’s funeral, and how lovely to truly celebrate your mum’s life and at the same time celebrating her friends too.

  23. Funeral’s often seem to carry some enforced code where joy is not allowed and that you have to be sad. It’s as though we’ve taken on that joy would be a disrespect to the deceased and that being sad and showing only that is how we show our respects. It’s all a bit silly really and how wonderful to be in the joy of the person being celebrated.

  24. I had gone to a funeral earlier this year that was entirely different. It was a close, greater family member that had decided to take the immediate reincarnation route to solve their problems. I have attended my share of funerals, but this type was a new experience. I felt my grief for the loss but would use this time for healing. Real fun, is an analogy for funeral and that is what I did. I healed in my self-past hurts and had lots of closure with some other people. It was a joyous day with a bit of sadness, but everyone evolved.

  25. This is how we should say goodbye, in celebration of a person’s life not in emotional turmoil of their death. I must say, when a loved one falls ill and gradually passes, I imagine it is a simpler process of planning and saying goodbye than if someone young dies suddenly or a loved one is taken very fast. Even in these circumstances, if we focus on the fact that it is the beginning of a new cycle for them and not the end of anything, it supports, us and them to let go and remember the collateral beauty everywhere in these circumstances.

  26. I much prefer the idea of celebrating life rather than having regrets for someone, it feels much more honouring of them and their lives and the amazing opportunity ahead of them.

  27. There are two words that should be part of every funeral. Celebration and completion. This feels like it offers evolution to the person who passes over as well as everyone who is touched by the funeral.

  28. Our relationship with death would be vastly different if we saw it as a completion of one cycle and the beginning of another. Seeing death as a dead end (pun intended) so to speak prevents us from seeing the opportunity that dying and death actually presents to us.

    1. I agree Elizabeth – it is so far short of the truth when we see it that way. When we get the potential to have another go, learn, evolve all over again – each day, and in each lifetime.

  29. In moments like this you can feel how it is an opportunity for everyone to come together and really connect, be with each other and appreciate each other more. Its like its a moment where life is brought back to its simplicity and everything that has been focused on is brought into perspective- there is something in these times that when reflected on can be lived daily.

  30. Funerals can be a joyful celebration of the person who has died. I went to a funeral of a dear friend last year and it was just that. Thank you for sharing the experience of your mum’s funeral Jane.

  31. A beautiful sharing Jane of how joy full it was to celebrate a life well lived by your Mum, and shared also with many friends, what an inspiring reflection your mum gave as she lovingly prepared for her passing over.

  32. This is beautiful Jane, there is so much sadness and grief around death and funerals, I really love what you share here as it opens up the possibility that we can begin to view funerals in a different way and celebrate their life and the ending of this cycle.

  33. I have been to funerals where there has been an attempt to follow the wishes of the one who has passed to keep it light and fun and not be a somber affair, however in each one of those cases there has been forced humour instead of the sense of celebration of a life lived and the passing of a loved one – from one extreme (grief and sadness), to the other (cracking jokes, playing Monty Python songs etc.). It’s more than understandable because if we have only ever known the first way, and are not aware of the cycle of reincarnation they are in, we cannot truly celebrate their passing – all we feel is the loss of them from our lives. It’s beautiful to read about how we can change this Jane. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  34. A beautiful reflection of a life well lived Jane. Your mother died as she had lived making it about connection and relationships. Beautiful sharing.

  35. This is such a deeply appreciative and joyful blog – I love how your Mum took the time to be with everyone before her passing and how you all celebrated her after, and I can feel how wonderful that was. This is the way to go, to celebrate the one who’s gone and to celebrate everyone as part of that. Your love of people is just beautiful to feel Jane.

  36. Very beautiful and inspiring to read how your mother prepared herself to bring completion to all her relationships as I feel the emotions and heaviness we usually experience at funerals have a lot to do with regrets and unresolved relationships.

    1. I agree Fumiyo – another reason why this funeral celebration felt light – as much of those regrets and unresolved issues had been discussed and let go of in that my mum talked with many of her friends and relatives before she died.

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