Clare Mellor
Funeral Celebrant in West Suffolk

National Grief Awareness week 2nd - 8th December, 2023

I expect that not many people will be aware that there is even a Grief Awareness week, I only found out earlier this year from my Humanist UK colleagues. There have been several articles in the mainstream press including The Times 29th November, and features on the radio including The World @ One on Radio 4 28th November. We see adverts from Funeral Directors and many other organizations in the “industry” all emphasising what they see as the huge importance of ritual and acknowledgement of a person’s life by those mourning their loss. Even some of the massive promotion of direct cremations does acknowledge that families may want to have a memorial of some sort.

My ex-husband C is in the final stages of his life and I have been having conversations with our 2 adult sons and his siblings about what is likely to happen next from a practical point of view and what options are open to them when it is the time to organise his funeral. C never talked about what he wanted and you may be surprised to read that I think in a way this is a good thing.

It can be brilliant if a funeral is already organised and paid for so all the NOK have to do is turn up. However, the other side of this is that it can lead to feelings of disconnect and futility for the NOK- What can I do? How do I show my respect or love? and so on. It is obviously emotionally stressful to arrange a loved one’s funeral and the practicalities can seem overwhelming. Talking and thinking about it before the actual need is a good thing as some of the decisions having to be made on a practical basis, can leave you reeling if they are not expected. I feel that despite the stress, it can be a very useful thing to go through as part of the start of the grieving process (which will last forever…there are no set stages of grief).
Doing the right thing by the deceased is one thing but doing it for those who mourn is IMHO even more important.

And as a Humanist celebrant I firmly and absolutely believe that everyone’s life has had meaning and their story must be told and ritual observed. We need to keep our connectedness with all those we know AND don’t know and a funeral ceremony can be part of this. It is what makes us human after all.

My friend Stephanie Hartick who is the creative director of Art Branches, recently invited me to contribute a poem to the “branchesabound” blog. on their website. Art Branches is a no-profit CIC which provides creative workshops based in the natural environment for people with mental health problems. Their services are regularly socially prescribed by GPs and mental health services in East Anglia.

Stephanie was very interested in my work as a funeral celebrant during lockdown and thought that it would be a good way for me to “process” what it had been like. “I’m no poet” I thought, but one evening within the space of 1 hour I had written 3…here they are;

Covid funeral Haiku
To an empty room
As she told their story
The clean air vibrated

The funeral arranger
The widow was strung up with tension
The son’s body like a rag doll
he held his mother’s hand as if with superglue
-no tears-the air felt like treacle.
“what sort of coffin would you like?”…


BA 2.75.2
Ratios, numbers, percentages
“look after yourself…” they said.
We were all Marcel Marceau feeling the invisible walls closing in.
I was lucky, I could get out for 30 minutes
Music in the car on the way home from the crem.,
to those invisible walls carrying the grief of the world on my shoulders
and forever in my heart.
Ratios, numbers, percentages
“look after yourself…

To see all the poems and even contribute please use the link below.

Typical e-mail conversation:

Dear C

Please find attached V3. I am not quite happy with my Committal words, more thinking needed, but I am sure you get the gist. Please answer the text in red!

Kindest regards

Hi Clare

That’s fantastic thank you, yes please mention G being laid to rest as well.

Dear C

I expect you are back home now "back to reality" as the song goes...? Anyway, attached is the presentation script, I hope I have corrected the spelling mistakes!

It was a privilege to lead the ceremony for D and to hear her story and I am sure you will all have had a good time continuing to share memories afterwards. It was lovely to see the chapel so full and that the sun shone, I expect you were all imagining D soaking up the sun in her garden.

(X spoke to me briefly saying she thought you would be very good at being a celebrant so...if you are interested, I would really recommend the Humanist UK training. There is very little financial reward for the time spent but it is truly rewarding work).

If you would like to leave me any feedback, click on the link below and you are then eligible to get 1 year's free membership of Humanist UK!

Kindest regards