Much of the change within the funeral industry is driven by the consumer and nowhere is this more evident than in the funeral service. In the past there wasn’t much choice. Grieving families had to settle for a service led by the local vicar. That’s great and totally appropriate for people with a faith but with fewer people these days attending church and with religious belief in decline many families just want the opportunity to remember their loved ones in a more personal way. The idea of a vicar reading from a standard script used at everybody else’s funeral doesn’t appeal to some families. Funerals are now looked upon as a celebration of life in the same way that a birthday or an anniversary is.
As a funeral celebrant I work with families to make the service personal. Today I conducted a service for a Star Trek fan. The family chose ‘Star Trekkin’ to come into the chapel and at the end of the service I gave the Vulcan salutation; a hand gesture popularised by the TV series, although I found it very hard to keep my fingers apart! The man was also a darts champion so I found a great poem which the family and mourners loved.
I made the service personal by weaving in some phases used in Star Trek.
In the opening words and welcome I talked about the circumstances that led us to be here and then I said:
“I hope you enjoyed our opening music. XX was quite a Trekkie fan. He watched every episode on video and had folders of Star Trek memorabilia. He was a proper Sci-Fi addict. This TV show was magical and moved us way beyond our own life, a glamorous utopia where men could boldly go. From rubber-suited monsters to the shiny scary Borg, all across the generations these stories always conquered evil and filled XX and his generation with wonder and imagination.”
At the end of the service we stand to commit the deceased to our loving hearts and minds. In a religious service we would be committing him or her to God. These were my words:
We are nearing the end of our time here together when we must make our final farewell. Death is that state in which one only exists in the memory of others; which is why it is not an end. No goodbyes, just good memories. As Terry Pratchett said in one of his books, no one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away. So keep the memory of XX alive in your hearts and in your minds.
Before we stand for the committal, I would like to share with you a quote from Captain Picard, at the end of ‘Generations’ on Star Trek.
“Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I’d rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and allows us to cherish every moment…because they’ll never come again.”
XX go with love upon your journey go with wonder in your heart. May the light be there to beam you up, through the terrors of the dark. Let heaven hold you and keep you safe until we come home to you. You’ll always be beside us in a parallel point of view.
We reverently and tenderly commit your body for cremation and your ashes to the earth from where all life comes and all life ultimately will return.
I like to end each service with some uplifting words and these were the words I used:
On behalf of the family I would like to thank you for coming here today to celebrate XX life. Remember him with love and kindness wherever you may go, as XX finds the final frontier with a smile. Think of him saying Beam me up now Scotty, no delaying, it’s my turn to Star Trek high up in the clouds and beyond where no man has gone before. Give her all she’s got Captain.
To all mankind — may we never find space so vast, planets so cold, heart and mind so empty that we cannot fill them with love and warmth.Butmay you all live long and prosper and may you go rich in your memories of XX.
The family wanted the mourners to do the actions to the final piece of music, The Fratellis, ‘Chelsea Dagger’ and when I joined in everybody else did! We ended the service laughing and smiling but it was still dignified which is important.
Here is a link to my funeral services: https://beautifulfuneralsussexkent.co.uk