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On 3rd May 2005 my husband, Keith Graham, lost his battle with cancer and died peacefully in Lincoln Hospital. He was 55 years of age and hadn’t even begun to realise his true potential. He was a very brave man and he handled his illness with dignity.

When it came to the funeral arrangements, I wanted the day to be a celebration of Keith’s life, joyful and memorable.  Not a day for sadness, but a day for reflection and thanks for all of Keith’s family and friends and all the people who ever met Keith and loved him.

We settled on a church funeral with our local vicar.  We had lived and worked in our village for many years and so it felt right to have the service where we had become part of the community.

From the start I told the vicar that I didn’t want a religious ceremony and that I wanted it to be a celebration of Keith’s life. 

The vicar was brilliant and he conducted the service as to my wishes.  Several friends stood up and read poems or related stories and memories that they had of Keith.

When Keith was buried in the churchyard, a friend of his released two shots into the sky from Keith’s beloved beretta.  The whole congregation jumped.  The vicar read a poem that I had prepared and he did a very sympathetic job of giving Keith a really good send off.

After Keith died I took a part time job working at a funeral directors in Nottinghamshire and this is where I learnt that you don’t have to have a religious service, that families do really have a choice as to what kind of ceremony they want and that the funeral directors are their to help you to celebrate the life of the person not just to cremate or bury them. 

I was introduced to a Civil Celebrant that conducted a funeral for me at a Natural Burial ground and decided that this was what I wanted to do.  I trained with the Institute of Civil Funerals and am now a Civil Celebrant, a non religious or part religious officiant.  I have conducted many ceremonies and not one of them has been the same. 

You really can choose to have a ceremony that reflects the person and their wishes, a living tribute to be remembered and cherished. 

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