Thoughts, doubts and a little anxiety

We have been home 1 day, I think I have already settled into a routine of sorts, not that I really had one.

I am feeling quite anxious though, in fact I realised it the moment we started our holiday.

Tightness around the chest mainly and feelings of “hell can I do this – I mean really”. No, I’m not talking about the holiday, that part was easy.  As you may or may not know I completed the 2 day Celebrant’s course and have the piece of paper saying that I completed the training and I can perform a funeral ceremony. Though I still have assignments, mainly answering and typing numerous questions to finish, plus having to make 2 DVD’s one with an audience of friends (as I doubt I can pull in anyone off the street for this). One without – don’t ask why I have no idea.

These though painful to do, I shall attempt, if only to gain self confidence in my ability and speaking. My anxiety is purely built around the ‘can I factor’.

There are no second chances when you say you are a Civil Celebrant and get that first call. From the moment you knock on the door of the grieving family to conduct the interview, to having the ability to handle relatives or friends that may stand up to speak, when the immediate family have said no. There will be the moment that I first walk into where the service is being held, not knowing how I will go, will I perform the ceremony with grace and professionalism that a grieving family can and should expect?

I know as with any ‘position’ that we take on in life — the first day is always the worst. Nerves will set in, but unlike sitting behind an office desk and fumbling my way through the day, this I cannot fumble with. I can’t allow nerves to take control, though I m sure my knees will be knocking behind the lectern.

I took on this career change initially, because I felt I was capable, but nerves can be terribly debilitating and even before I have finished the assignments or produced the DVD’s, my knees are knocking at the mere thought of performing something so desperately important as a service for a departed loved one.

Throughout the holiday, when I went to bed I would be rehearsing eulogies in my head.  This may sound strange to everyone, but I could not cease . I talked to Mr. S about it on the 3rd day and he tried to put my mind at ease. It worked for a short while, but the sleeplessness returned and I found myself exhaling deeply to try and get a grip on my anxiety.

I keep running scenarios through my head during the day – a eulogy for a child, for a suicide victim, for a still born baby, a long illness, a murder, an accident. There are so many that will require careful thought process in order to write a service that is fitting.  Perhaps I am jumping the gun a little and letting myself (as us humans do) get worked up prior to even trying.   There are also rituals that can be performed, the lighting of candles, releasing of doves or balloons. Allowing someone to play a musical instrument, placing items of farewell into the casket. Time restraints are also to be considered, a half hour service or longer depending on the amount of those who wish to speak. Knowing when the music or photo tribute is to begin, when to call the speakers up, at what suitable interval.  Not to rush when speaking (as this is what we have a tendency to do when we are nervous). To pause at the right intervals, to allow reflection.

I am not writing this for everyone that follows me to say – I will be fine – honestly I’m not, I’m writing to convince myself more than anything, that I shall be okay, that this is something I can do and by putting my thoughts on paper here, it helps me a little.

Below is a picture I took from our Hotel room in Cairns, I purposely woke at 6.30 to catch the sunrise over the mountain. After this photo I have written an introduction to a service that has been swirling around my head.

If this is something you cannot read I understand, hence putting it after the photo.


The circle of life – we are conceived, we live and we die.

How many of us here today, have thought of what our reactions would be when we are faced with losing someone whom we love and cherish? To encounter a loss of a loved one is devastating and painful and how are we ‘supposed’ to manage, how brave can we be, how do we come to terms with it?

Each one of you will react differently and there is no right or wrong on how you grieve or for how long.

The question of why will be asked, why did he/she have to leave me, my life.

I wish there were answers for you, but there are none.

… played an important role in all your lives and this is proven by each and every one of you being here today, to remember, honour and celebrate his/her life.

Today you will need tissues, you may need the person next to you, a friend a relative or perhaps even a complete stranger to give you comfort, or you them. You will shed tears and do not be afraid to do so. For this is grieving and grief is not rational.  It can be overwhelming, sharp and lingering or it can make you feel numb.

As we look upon the life of … let us share stories and the shedding of tears and by gradually releasing the burden of grief through these memories of happy times and yes sad times, each and every one of you will hopefully draw further strength and solace from one another through this most difficult and painful time.

In the words of Rumi a Sufi poet – the soul flies out from the body at the time of death and lays the body aside like an old piece of clothing.

Dying is akin to a ship that sails and fades off into the horizon, we no longer see them from where we stand with the limit of our sight, but just as they fade from our view, someone will see them from their horizon and we know that their presence is nearer than we could ever imagine.

Be compassionate and understanding with those around you but in particular yourself. The pain of not having … in your life, will in time change and there are no time limits set.

We are grateful for the time we had with … rest often in this stillness and quiet strength as we say goodbye and wish … well on their journey.


38 thoughts on “Thoughts, doubts and a little anxiety

  1. Dearest Jen. How can you even question your ability/calling when you write so beautifully from that enormous heart of yours ?

    Photography is wonderful. I’m so glad you shared

  2. The first time at any job is daunting, always some anxiety. When dealing with complex emotions, as you will be, more so. But… people will listen to your words and more importantly feel them as you will convey so much more than just words, but feelings and support. You are going to do a grand job, your compassion will be your guide and will combine with your muse, who is eloquent and understanding.

    After all, this is a time when a Mumsy is what you need. 🙂

    The eulogy was beautiful.

  3. beautiful, and it sounds very heartfelt and natural. perhaps once you have a few of these ceremonies behind you, you will feel your power and it will become easier.

      • ah yes i think it would add a measure of confidence to your approach, or at least a fuller picture of what an important job your role will play in helping loved ones of those who have passed on –

  4. HUGS

    OK now YOU GOT THIS! No really your words were meant to be heard and they will comfort so many as they say their goodbyes. It will be hard as you will know all the details, it will be more personal as you sit and write words to help them heal and move on with out their loved one.

    I do not know about you but at times I worry myself sick over something new and I do it and then look back and say so silly to worry so you knew you had the ability and yes you too have the ability to sit back and smile and relax and let some joy flow into your pieces of Video as well be YOU 🙂 as it is who WE LOVE

    Another HUG

  5. Jen, such a beautiful post full of raw honesty. I love it. I can understand your anxiety, it’s overwhelming taking a new path in our career (congratulations by the way) and also there is the added aspect of the public speaking involved. But you are talking to the right woman!! Have a look at my tips for reading aloud page, which is under my workshops tab. Hopefully there may be something there that helps a little…

    • I shall have a look soon, thank you. I have spoken before in front of people and read my poem for Mr. S’s mum at her Funeral, that part doesn’t really frighten me as much as getting it right the first time. Thank you for the congratulations on the course. Glad I have someone I can yell help to if needed 🙂 x

  6. What you wrote is amazing. Thinking back to my grandma’s funeral I really can’t remember what the pastor said about her. Just knowing that we were all together and hearing someone talking about her was comforting. I also understand your nerves. I got up to speak at my grandma’s funeral and nearly lost it as my voice started cracking as I was on the verge of tears. It will be an extremely hard job I’m sure but one I’m certain you are cut out for!

    • Thank you so much Mel. I think my only saving grace is that possibly (on most occasions) I will not have met the deceased prior, therefore haven’t quite got the emotional bond, from knowing them. This will be the only way and also knowing that conducting a service I am doing it for them and must remain professional. xxx

  7. I read this post the other day and didn’t get a chance to reply.
    Obviously you have a calling to do this. It’s not for everybody. Me? I know I couldn’t do it because situations like that just make me cry. Honestly I’m such a cry baby!
    I sense in you a truly compassionate yet STRONG person. I KNOW you can do this! Somehow you’ve been guided to do it. 🙂

    • Hi Tracy, thank you. Believe me I’m a sook – Lassie Movies, Offspring finale anything. I just have to remember that I am doing this for the family that grieves and pop my professional hat on. Thank you for what you said, that is very sweet..and in some strange way I feel I was guided to it also. 🙂

  8. Oh Dear!
    I started to cry from the second sentence. I think I’ve lost too many people in the last 3 years and things like this a still raw. In saying that though…you have written beautifully and with great poise.
    Hugs to you. Paula xxxx

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