Lesley Mary Close
Coronavirus – important information regarding funerals
Government guidelines, applied by the vast majority of crematoria and burial grounds, mean that only a few mourners are currently allowed to attend a funeral.
To overcome the difficulties posed by a face-to-face meeting between our two households, we will start by talking on the phone or using a video call system like WhatsApp. I will send you the first draft by email (or by post if you prefer and, crucially, if time permits) then we will exchange emails and/or speak on the phone as often as is needed to create a meaningful funeral ceremony to be attended by family members and close friends.
I prefer to work with just one client at a time, an approach that allows me to devote my time and energies to creating and delivering your funeral service. In these difficult times, it also provides the best level of covid-security that I can achieve.
You can ring me at home on 01494 581388, on my mobile 07950 638849 or email me using the link below. However you choose to get in touch, I’ll be honoured to hear from you.
If you would like to arrange a burial, cremation, memorial or interment of ashes, please contact me to find out how we can create the perfect ceremony together.
If you want to arrange your own funeral ceremony, whether or not you know you will need it soon, it would be my great honour to help you.
In contrast to the fixed format of a traditional religious service, the funeral ceremony we create together for your much-missed loved one can include or omit whatever you feel is appropriate.
Natural or woodland burials are a wonderful way to pay tribute to someone you love. I would be pleased to use my experience of these ceremonies, with their more relaxed structure, to help you arrange a personal and less time-critical funeral.
As your funeral celebrant, I will help you to create a bespoke and meaningful ceremony. I will work alongside you, with courtesy, care and compassion, as, together, we create a unique funeral which reflects your wishes and beliefs.
By working together, you and I will create and deliver a personalised funeral ceremony which will bring you comfort while honouring your loved one’s memory. The ceremony will mourn your loved one’s death, celebrate their life and enable you to say a meaningful goodbye to them.
However much of the work you assign to me, you will always be in control of their unique, personal and honest funeral.
I’ll send you my suggestions for the ceremony then gladly and promptly make whatever changes you need.
A family-led funeral
Family members of all ages are welcome to take part in the ceremony, perhaps by reading a poem or tribute they have written or by performing a piece of music.
The eulogy can be written and delivered by me or by a family member or friend, or we can share the honour of writing and reading.
I work mainly in West London, The Chilterns and the Vale of Aylesbury, although I have worked much further afield, including Dorset and North Yorkshire.
Wherever the ceremony takes place, I always look for the best way to create a tribute which brings harmony between the deceased, their family and the environment. And, whatever form the ceremony takes, it would be my privilege to help you create a funeral for someone you love.
My role as your funeral celebrant
There is no set format to a secular funeral ceremony and there are as many types of ceremony as there are people: being unique is what distinguishes a ceremony from a service. As a way of both mourning someone’s death and celebrating their unique life, a secular funeral ceremony can never be re-used because every element has been tailored to suit both the deceased and the bereaved.
When we meet, please don’t restrict yourself to answering my questions but talk freely about the deceased. I want you to volunteer memories as they arise, telling me about your loved one’s favourite holidays, books, music, hobbies and anything else. However difficult it is to relate the funny stories you remember, they are invaluable. If other people want to join the conversation, that can help me to build a fully rounded impression.
And, all the time, I will be taking handwritten notes and making mental notes too. I can hear your question: handwritten notes in the 21st century? Yes, because the physical act of writing means that, even though the conversation is all I write, my handwritten notes record more than just that. And then there is the inestimable value of the attention to detail that handwriting brings: my focus is you and what you are saying, hearing the meaning of your words rather than just the sound of your voice. There is no technology to worry about and the flow between ear and page, the conversion of sound to script, happens without flashing lights or beeping battery failure alerts.
And so the ‘magic’ starts, with a mental image which forms while you talk about the person who has died. Later, I stitch the information you gave me into a ceremony, a patchwork quilt of words whose pattern flows from edge to edge in a seamless narrative forming a cohesive, unique whole.
A meaningful funeral ceremony will bring you comfort by celebrating the life that has been lost. A well-constructed funeral ceremony does not deny the pain of death but finds a way to make it more bearable. If, after the ceremony, mourners are talking about the deceased and smiling, if they are saying things like ‘Jim would have loved that!’, I will have performed my task properly.
In short, my role is to help lighten the load you will bear in the interval between the death of someone you love and the moment of saying goodbye to their body. A well-written funeral ceremony, created and conducted with compassion, understanding and diplomacy will leave mourners feeling they have started the journey from grief and pain towards healing and acceptance.
I am a secular funeral celebrant, meaning that I do not create ceremonies whose sole or main focus is the hope of a life hereafter. Having said that, I am happy to start and end the ceremony with a prayer and to lead the mourners in singing a hymn or saying the Lord’s prayer. It’s your ceremony, I am her for you and I am in your hands.
Here are some of the testimonials I have received, a selection which is published with the writers' permission
Hannah (December 2020)
Lesley was recommended to me by a close friend who knew of the work she did, and I am so glad they did. From the moment I spoke to Lesley, I knew she was the right person to conduct my mum’s funeral and “celebration of her life”. Right from the start Lesley was attentive and calm, and listened to what was important to me to help build a service that would give my mum the send off I wanted for her. We had several phone calls and she took everything into her control and made what was a really difficult time seem so seamless and less painful to work my way through. Lesley was a real support and helped guide me, step by step, through the process and was able to offer advice and talk me through the difficult decisions for ceremony. I can not recommend Lesley enough. She did my mum proud by conducting a really moving and uplifting ceremony and for that I will be forever grateful.
Ruth and Richard (November 2020)
We were delighted with the way the ceremony went yesterday. And the feedback we've had from both those who attended and those who joined us online was that the service was excellent and very fitting. The success of the ceremony was in no small part down to the calm and caring manner in which you delivered it.
Moore family (September 2020)
"We would like to show our appreciation for the wonderful job you did for Dad’s funeral. We loved that, as with Mum’s ceremony, you carefully collaborated all of our stories and double-checked the detail in the days leading up to the funeral. What could have been a very sad and sombre affair, saying goodnight to him, turned into a real celebration of life, as was our wish. Just as you did for Mum’s burial three years ago, you created the perfect atmosphere – joyous yet respectful. We were able to fully honour Dad’s service to the Fire Brigade and his life as a young man, friend, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Your lovely tribute provided an excellent send-off for him, despite the battle with the strong winds at the woodland burial site, all carried off with perfect aplomb."
Nikki (June 2020)
"I asked the funeral directors for a supportive but light-hearted celebrant with a sense of humour and you exceeded my expectations. I really appreciated how from the beginning you reiterated that it was our service."
Angela and Ina (June 2020)
"Your support made it possible for us to grieve and celebrate our father's life. Under the circumstances, the funeral couldn't have been better."
Cathy, Ruth and Heather (June 2020)
"Everyone who shared the funeral with us agrees that it was a fitting tribute to our beloved R."
Baby Alex (February 2020)
“Thank you for everything you've done in making Alex's ceremony a beautiful one. You've expressed all the words we wanted to say."
Karen (February 2020)
“You got mum down to a T. I could hear giggles from everyone, just what mum wanted."
My wide-ranging life experience enables me to bring a variety of soft- and vocational-skills to the deeply fulfilling role of funeral celebrant. I am a good listener, an accurate note-taker, an accomplished writer, a confident public speaker and a tuneful singer.
My one-to-one training was provided by The UK Society of Celebrants and I am a member of The Good Funeral Guild.