Lesley Mary Close
My approach to the funeral you need to organise
I prefer to work with just one client at a time. This approach allows me to devote my time and energies to creating and delivering your funeral ceremony.
You can ring me 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.
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.
When we meet, please don’t restrict yourself to answering my questions – talk freely about the deceased and volunteer memories as they arise, telling me about your loved one’s favourite holidays, books, music, hobbies and anything else. However difficult it might be to relate the funny stories you remember, they are invaluable. If other people want to join the conversation, that can help build a fully rounded impression. And I am always pleased to get a phone call or an email after we meet, saying ‘We forgot to tell you about…’
And, while you are talking, I will be taking handwritten notes. I can hear your question: handwritten notes in the 21st century? Yes! The physical act of writing means that, even though the conversation is all I record, when I refer to my handwritten notes they trigger memories which help to provide more than just that information. 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. I will stitch the information you give 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.
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 here for you and I am in your hands.
Some of the testimonials I have received, published with the writers' permission
Pamela (July 2022)
Thank you so much for helping to make it a perfect day yesterday in celebrating Mum's life. Family and friends were able to give her a lovely send off and she is now at peace.
Georgina (June 2022) memorial ceremony at home
P wrote: Thank you so much for enabling us to make such a wonderful success of our ‘Celebration of Ma’s life’ ceremony, it couldn’t have been more perfect. We all talked and thought about it so much over the weekend, and now have treasured memories of a very joyful occasion! Ma would have been so pleased. Gosh, it was fun though! P's sister J wrote: Thanks so much for Saturday. It was just perfect – the madness of it all, children, puppies. emotions, laughter. What a lovely thing it is that you do – so good for us all instead of the heart-constricting awfulness of the traditional funeral service. It was lovely to remember Mum like that and you did her justice!
Jane (January 2022)
Thank you so much for all your help with getting together a lovely celebration of mum’s life. So many people have given me feedback over the week, asking where we found you, as you are the perfect person for delivering the memorial.
audrey (January 2022)
I am writing to thank you so very much for the wonderful service you conducted yesterday. You presented Audrey’s life in such a real and personal way it was almost as if she was speaking herself. It was all so well done I found the whole thing very moving. Many have said the same to me and about your presentation. Thank you again Lesley.
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.
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.
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.