Treasured Ceremonies’ First Funeral in France
My parents are British, but retired to France some time ago. My father recently passed away, and the thought of a ceremony in the crematorium conducted in French where almost no one would understand the service was not something that we were looking forward to at all. We thought we had no other options available to us, but thought we better explore our options before we resigned ourselves to the inevitable. Then entered Helen. What a marvellous find she was. Helen was able to explain to us that there were many other options available, including what we ultimately chose, which was a very intimate ceremony conducted in dad’s own back garden, a place he loved, before being taken away for cremation. Helen made herself available to meet with us several times to take details before the day itself, and even sourced and attended the funeral directors with us to help arrange our bespoke requirements to ensure when the time came (sadly, dad’s death was expected and we had time to organise ourselves) that all the plans were in place for a very smooth process. Helen wrote and sent for approval the eulogy in advance, and was basically a marvel at a very difficult time, helping with the language barrier and ensuring that we were able to be fully prepared. As anyone who has encountered death in France knows, the timescales from death to burial mean you have no time to stop and think about what your dear departed may have liked best. I would just like everyone to know that there are other options available, and would not hesitate to recommend Helen as a Celebrant for such an occasion. Very helpful, very professional and very sympathetic, went above and beyond for our family and honestly was just all round superb. Costings were extremely reasonable for the sheer volume of work Helen put in for us, and I don’t think dad could have liked anything better than what we were able to organise, none of which we had any idea was possible before we spoke to Helen. 10/10 would highly recommend.
I would just like to thank you once again on behalf of myself and the family for your service this morning. I know it would have been the send off dad would have wished for. Several of the family have praised the ceremony, and I know a large part of the proceedings was down to the dignity and respect shown by yourself. I felt the whole event was perfect- which seems an odd expression to use for a funeral, but that’s how I have summed up the day. I go to bed tonight with a great relief that we did well for dad.
Helen’s approach enabled us to give mum the personal celebration she would have wanted. We felt Helen listened to us from the start and built the service around what we wanted for mum.
She identified a poem that was perfect for the end of the ceremony.
On the day, she pitched it right- she lead the celebration eloquently, gave us the space to personalize it yet left us feeling supported throughout.
Whilst we wouldn’t want to go through this again, we would highly recommend Helen to other grieving families. She was professional, positive, empathetic but most importantly she listened and adapted the service to what mum would have wanted.
Service held at Parc Gwyn, Narberth
Wonderful service taken by Helen, she managed to weave the thoughts and memories of the contributors perfectly and presented the ceremony as though she had known John for many years. She was there is greet us at the crematorium and made everyone feel at ease. Her communication before the day was great, and made any alterations we requested speedily.
Helen was the most perfect person to hold my dad’s ceremony. She was thoughtful, helpful, professional and was extremely caring. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet this lovely lady even under these sad circumstances.
I am so grateful to Helen Williams for conducting the ceremony at my fathers funeral. She put into words what I was unable to express.
Helen’s smile, which I noticed was reflected in her eyes, was warm, sincere and comforting. It was very much appreciated by those who attended.
I would like to give a positive feedback of the funeral performed by Helen Williams on Wednesday 7th July 2020 at Margam crematorium. The first time I
spoke to Helen via video link she was very helpful and kind she asked about my mothers life. She was so kind and understanding. When we met at Margam crematorium on the day of my mothers funeral we spoke about people mentioned in the funeral. Helen introduced herself and that she was the celebrant
carrying out the celebration of my mothers life. Everyone told me how they liked Helen and the funeral my mother chose for us all to say goodbye to her,
and that they felt that Helen had known my mother before she’d passed away. She came across as a family friend and not just a celebrant of the funeral I
would recommend Helen if anyone asked me who carried out my mother funeral. It was a shame that we couldn’t have met up afterwards to express our thanks, even though we did say that we were so impressed with Helen’s support. And to have the undertaker do a little dance to my mothers favourite Abba song (dancing queen) was just as they say the icing on the cake. Again thank you Helen for a lovely tribute to my mother
Susan Cole daughter of Glenys Thomas
I’m a member of the Institute of Civil Funerals. Sometimes families post testimonials on their website. This is an excerpt from one of them, written by Rose’s son, Stephen.
Did you feel the celebrant dealt with you in an appropriate manner? Yes
Please provide any details explaining your answer
Sensitive, listening, attentive and nothing too much trouble. Timely and regular contact. Five stars.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
This person is a credit to your Institute. Absolutely professional and caring in everything. Conducted my Mother’s funeral instilling celebration, joy and dignity. Thank you Helen.
I recently received a request for feedback on your role in my Dad’s funeral from the Institute of Civil Funerals, which reminded me that’s it’s time to write and thank you for everything that you did for us. Here you go:
Both my wife and I are qualified and experienced professional psychologists. We know what we’re on about when it comes to people skills. On meeting Helen, we were both impressed by the immediacy with which she established authentic rapport and went on to demonstrate the standard Rogerian qualities of an authentic helping relationship (concreteness, congruence, accurate empathy, warm acceptance verging on unconditional positive regard).
I started the meeting with Helen experiencing it as, albeit important, yet another job of many to be got through, but that shifted quickly. I soon found myself moved and inspired. Thanks in no small part to Helen, my Dad’s funeral was as successful as such events can be but, as I look back, that initial meeting with Helen stands out brightly amongst the positive aspects of the bereavement overall. I suppose I would have found my positive inspiration in some way, because I know how to do that, but Helen made that seem deceptively easy. Helen has the magic. She helped me to look Death in the eye with a steady gaze. As an ordained Buddhist, supposedly capable of dealing bravely and creatively with impermanence, I found Helen’s easy ability to inspire that response in me deeply impressive. I think she’s magnificent.
With much appreciation,
I found Helen very easy to talk to, she arrived on time and Conducted herself in a very professional manner, whilst being friendly and sympathetic to our situation. She listened attentively to what we had to say about Robin which was reflected in the draft service she prepared and sent to us by email shortly after our meeting. We all felt that what she had drafted, perfectly captured his personality and our wishes for the service. Helen ensured that we had her contact details and assured us that we could contact her at anytime if we wished to discuss anything further.
Following the service , many people commented on how lovely the service was and how impressed they were with Helen.
It was more than just being excellent at every point, her suggestions helped me personalise the memorial for my dad and aided making it a celebration of his life.
It would not have been anywhere nearly as good without her and she was a brilliant support before during and after.
I would highly recommend Helen for any occasion where a celebrant attends; ours would certainly have not been the same without her.
My thanks for this to her truly come from the bottom of my heart.
My sister has left a review via the website and everyone who attended the service at the funeral home said that it was a lovely funeral and very respectful.
I wanted to say a huge thank you for yesterday. It was a difficult day in more ways than one but what you did was beautiful and the send off they had will hopefully go someway in healing deep seated wounds.
Their friends will be unaware of many issues and they can go away with their memories of both of them in tact which was important to us. Dad loved Mum very much and that had to be respected.
Every one said what a wonderful service it was and how engaging you were in paying tribute to them.
I would like to thank you for speaking at Keith’s funeral today.
The unfortunate circumstances of Keith’s passing and the limited information we knew about his life made it particularly difficult for you to compose an appropriate eulogy. However, I thought you managed to strike the right balance between reflecting his life truly and yet avoiding the negative aspects of his later years. When for all bar those few years Keith had led an unassuming and inoffensive life, it would have been unfair to have dwelt on the changes that unaccountably came over him. In speaking about Keith, your respectful manner combined with the warmth of your delivery was, I am sure, appreciated by all. And considering we knew so little of Keith’s musical taste, the music you chose was quite fortuitous – an inspired guess on your part!
So thank you once more for all your efforts.
Given the many events of Rhian’s life, some of which are on the dark side, I must admit I was quite intrigued as to how you would weave it all together in a celebratory way.
But I needn’t have worried as you conducted a brilliant service, which was clear , concise and befitting of the occasion and all achieved in that narrow time frame that we talked about!
I was personally overwhelmed at the crematorium by the many kind words and tributes paved by Rhian’s friends and associates, and your service certainly reflected Rhian’s life in the way they would remember her best. Does that make sense? It does to me anyway.
Once again, many warm thanks for your sterling efforts, Helen, good luck and good health
Denise, Mandy & Nicky
As a family we wanted to say a big thank you for the wonderful and such personal celebration that you led for our Auntie Lynda. You relieved all our apprehension, you were so friendly and professional, it felt like we had known you for years. You captured all the special memories we shared with you so precisely and fondly. We can’t thank you enough for everything you did to make the day a true and wonderful celebration of Lynda’s life. Please keep in touch, and thank you again, with love,
Denise, Mandy & Nicky
Gareth and Family
I wanted to thank you for helping us celebrate my Dad’s life last Wednesday. I have been inundated with positive comments from family and friends about how much they enjoyed the tribute to him. When you visited us a few days before it was immediately clear that we had made the perfect choice in which to say goodbye to my father.
Once again many thanks and all the very best for the future.
Gareth and family.
I just wanted to thank you so much for being the celebrant at my father’s funeral yesterday. I know that Gareth had every confidence in you after you met him last week and it was well-founded. I really wanted to meet you with him but it just could not be.
I so appreciate the thought and effort that you put into the eulogy and the calm and sensitive way that you delivered it. I particularly liked the Dryden that you added in. My father would have been particularly pleased that a woman was the celebrant- he had very clear views about equality too.
Once again, thank you very much
Inevitably for all of us in the immediate family, there is a tremendous feeling of relief as well as a tangible sense of closure at getting to the end of the funeral service. However, the net result was not just relief, but also great satisfaction and happiness in the knowledge that we had fulfilled dad’s wishes so completely (with the exception of the cardboard box, that is). All that I can say is, thank you so much for all your help in making that happen.
I just wanted to write a short note to thank you for everything you did yesterday and those days before.
I was floundering somewhat before we met at Starbucks and having your experience and calm just helped me to focus on the task and send Kathy away in celebration of her life, not mourning at her death.
Sarah and Family were very happy with the service and went with her Mothers wishes. Once again thank you for your kindness.
I promise today to be your best friend, your companion and your number one, the Han Solo to your Leia.
I will be there for you through the good times, amazing times & awesome times. But importantly the difficult times
I vow to love you no less than I love the dog
I promise that I will never take you for granted, and always hold your hand
You are everything I always wanted, but all the things I never knew I needed. Simply put, loving you altered my chemistry.
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