As a funeral celebrant, there aren’t any “perks” of the job, although I did get to ride in a hearse once, which was rather exciting!
I meet some wonderful and interesting people as part of my work, so I’m not complaining too much. The truth is that I love my job and am not bothered, if I don’t get any perks. I certainly don’t expect any.
However, an unexpected one did turn up just recently.
A seemingly unconnected story
When my mother died (around ten years ago), I was in my fifties. Her body had broken down, and I was pleased that she was out of pain. I went through the formal grieving process, in that we had a funeral and a night’s shiva (a prayer service at the home).
My relationship with my mother had been complicated, but we had been getting on well for the previous ten or so years. I was upset to lose her (though, as I say, glad she was no longer suffering). However, I had the paperwork to contend with, I had my family to support, and life was going on. I managed well enough, I thought.
Shortly afterwards, I happened to meet a bereavement counsellor. I told him I was coping just fine. He said that if I wanted a session (or even more) for free, I would be welcome.
Having initially declined (on the grounds that I was macho and didn’t need any help), I thought I wouldn’t lose anything – except a little time – by taking up his offer. So I went to his house.
I ended up having several sessions.
Suffice it to say, it became clear that I was in depression, and I even managed to do some grieving while I was with him. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. I came out of it successfully.
So much for that story.
What’s that got to do with perks?
Fast forward to me as a civil celebrant today.
I belong to the Association of Independent Celebrants (AOIC), a professional association. At the time of writing, AOIC is unique in that it offers its members a free professional counselling services. (Sometimes the family visit can be extremely unsettling for a celebrant.)
But the beauty of this arrangement – the perk, if you will – is that I am able to offer this service gratis to any of the families I visit. The service is available Monday to Friday and connects bereaved people directly with specialist counsellors via live web chat.
It may not suit everybody, but I know that I gained a huge amount from the kindness of the counsellor. I can now give something back by enabling others to benefit similarly.
Isn’t that something special?!