Greetings everyone, I hope you had a wonderful Solstice and a Happy New Year, many blessings and good fortune to you all in 2024.
After all the celebrations and the excitement of the holidays comes January a month that most people hate, except me (well I would like I bit more sunlight) for January is one of the only months where I truly listen to my body, I stop and let go and just take it easy for a month, not putting pressure on myself or others. A month where I can take time to review and process all that happened in the previous year and start to enjoy the lilac and purple sky at sunset, where I begin to daydream of all the exciting possibilities of the year to come. It is in this reflection that I come to you today with this month’s blog post.
(Please note that this blog may be a trigger for some of you, as it touches on issues surrounding death, funerals and family conversations about faith. Please also note no names or personal details have been shared in this post.)
Towards the end of last year, I received a phone call from a funeral director asking if I was available to perform a pagan funeral service for a gentleman, I said to the director that it would be my honour to offer this service. After contacting his family we arranged a date to meet to discuss the service and his wishes. Now it wasn’t until I met the family and they showed me his Facebook profile that I realised we were mutual Facebook friends and had been for a few years but never saw the connections until then. When discussing what the deceased wanted at his funeral, his family had no ideas, as the deceased kept his faith incredibly private. Even after I got in touch with the pagan community that knew him only a few people knew of some of his beliefs. So, after slowly patchworking this all together we arranged the service. (Which I’m glad to say did flow beautifully and was fully respectful of his beliefs and the family’s wishes.)
After leaving his family and getting back into the car it left me with so many questions about my own beliefs and realised that could have been me. That’s how my funeral meeting may go if my parents were to discuss my beliefs with a celebrant. My first thought was what are my own beliefs, how do I express them to others and more importantly how do I discuss and share my beliefs with my family? From my personal experience of Paganism, our path is unique to us and often full of twists and turns, one moment following this, the next taking another path or direction. As I drove home contemplating this, I realised that yes, my central path is Goddess Spirituality but then within this tapestry is a complex belief system including Druidry, Sea Witchcraft, Mythology and so much more, so if I were to die, how would my family plan my funeral… They know that I am Pagan, wear weird hippy pants and often disapprove of the witchy hats I wear in public, but what about my actual beliefs, I doubt they would know. Even though I have a 5-foot painting of the Lady of Avalon in my living room they have never really asked who she is and what the painting and Goddess means to me. I never really go into my beliefs with my family because they don’t understand; some days I don’t understand my complex beliefs, let alone others trying to understand. My parents are non-practising C of E with an ordinary, dare I use the term normal way of life, to them Paganism is another world and to many, it’s still a misunderstood, misrepresented way of life. In the car, the underlying question to it all was how do I (we) address this?
We talk about interfaith all the time and this blog is devoted to Intrafaith the connections between our paths, tribes, groups and communities. Yet at the heart of it all, I realised that the group of people I love the most, my family hardly know a thing about what I believe in. Interestingly the deceased had a whole pagan collection as do so many of us here, that the family didn’t understand or thought it was all a bit peculiar. It made me think of how others view our collections, do we know a person by what they have around them? Or do we simply throw it away or pass it on to someone else when they move on? In this case, his magical possessions were entrusted to a friend who will look after them with great joy and pride.
These thoughts and questions are still rolling around in my mind and I wanted to share this with you today, to see if it provokes you in any way. Some would say does it matter, once I’m gone, I’m gone and others like myself can’t wait to sit at my own funeral to see what happens. But at the heart of this post is a story of communication, how do we communicate our beliefs, thoughts and feelings with those who are closest to us? Does your family know of your Pagan beliefs? It’s okay if they don’t for any reason, I’ve been there too, and it can be difficult. Over the years I’ve slowly and gradually spoken about my beliefs to my family gently getting them to understand but there is still so much to tell them for them to fully understand what I believe in.
Finally, one of the most important things I have done to support this and help my family is to have a funeral plan ready, hopefully, I still have over 50 years left on this beautiful Earth, but just in case, it’s there ready alongside my Will to help my family in understanding what my wishes are, to avoid unnecessary upset. This is a difficult subject that a lot of people shy away from but there are celebrants out there who can help you in planning your funeral. I have template worksheets that you can use to plan your own funeral which I will happily email over to you. saving your closest from having to struggle with ideas that may not be what you want.
If you have any further questions, or suggestions, would like a copy of the Funeral Plan Sheets or require support please get in touch with me at email@example.com
With care and kindness.
Daniel Le Fey.