Thank you celebrancy wedding world! You have inspired me to remember my own wedding day.
Like many couples planning to get married, the logistics of getting people together can become quite a headache. Our close families were spread all over the country, indeed the world. We were in the middle of building our own house and I was in the very early stages of pregnancy so organising a big wedding was really not a top priority for us. Our priority was us! There were many, many other reasons that we chose a very quiet wedding. One of them, heartbreakingly, was that one of my best friends was terminally ill in a hospice and couldn’t be with us. That was difficult.
So yes, when planning a wedding there are so many things to consider. It’s very hard not to be influenced by the other people in your life or who you invite into your life at this time. Well meaning thoughts and wishes are very likely not intended to put pressure on you as a couple I’m sure, but it can be felt that way. We decided we were in charge therefore we made the right choices for us.
So the verbal invite went out to family & friends and went something like:
‘Alex & I are getting married Wednesday 14th of May at 2pm, come along if you like’
14th May 2003.
I was 5 months pregnant and dressed in purple tye dye and velvet. It rained all day, I later heard that a rainy day is considered lucky for a wedding – if you live in India! I remember the Dalai Lama was visiting Samye Ling and there was snow in Eskdalemuir. People were camping around the monastery to see him. I thought of them in their snowy tents. A little Tibet in Scotland. My bouquet and Alex’s buttonhole was gifted and made by a florist friend on a tressel table in our half built house. On the day another friend borrowed a car and chauffeurs cap, tied a ribbon on the bonnet of the car and drove us around for the day. After bucks fizz in the morning a group of us went for a wedding lunch before the civil ceremony in Musselburgh. Once there at Brunton Hall lots more soggy friends and family turned up in wellies with dripping umbrellas. Afternoon tea in Haddington found us taking over a hotel conservatory with the rain lashing down outside but it was warm and happy inside and we lingered over drinks. Such a raggle taggle soggy bunch we were but it was a wonderfully relaxed & happy day. 26 years later that day is remembered with such joy.
After recent discussions around burials and cremation, funeral directors and woodland burial sites I began to feel the considerations were not dissimilar to that of the choices and options made around birth. Today I watched short films about both woodland burial and funeral services at crematorium and I couldn’t help but consider the comparison to home birth and hospital birth.
Then while reading about the community group in Todmorden, Pushing up Daises, I came across a wonderful film where observations were made about the history of death in our culture and again this reminded me of the historical changes to how we birth. Currently 98% of women give birth in hospital. Hermione Elliot who is a death Doula suggests that in our culture, since the 1970’s, if not earlier, we have handed death over to health professionals and funeral directors and as a result we are not equipped emotionally, and practically, to know what to do when someone is dying and death occurs.
Whether it’s for birth or death what underpins our decisions is choice. Unbiased and evidence based therefore informed choice. As midwives we encourage couples to use the mnemonic BRAIN when making decisions in regard to birthing choices and care:
consider the Benefits,
consider the Risks,
what are the Alternatives,
what is your Instinct
if you can’t decide right now and you are safe then do Nothing for the moment
Of course not everyone will have complete choice due to a variety of reasons but in birth, and death, knowing you have some choices can be empowering. We want to give birth where we feel safe and I think this can be the same with dying and death. For some of us that will be at home, for some in a hospice or hospital.
As Hermoine points out data shows over 70% of people say they’d like to die at home but less than 20% actually do. What is it that makes this unattainable for many people? Off to see Rehana Rose’s Dead Good Film on Tuesday at the Glasgow Film Festival for more insights.
Welcome, welcome to my celebrant blog. Today I was encouraged to reflect about why I became a celebrant. Not just a celebrant but an independent celebrant. As a an NHS midwife of 20 years, working closely with women, couples and families at a transformative time in their lives I started to think of all the other life events that can transform or change us and the direction of our lives. I began to see that many of my midwifery skills were transferable in a way I had never considered before. Being a midwife is a strong part of my identity. Moving on from midwifery into celebrancy feels a very natural shift, I feel I am my authentic, grounded self in these roles. One area that is very different is regulation & I will discuss that in another post. I have a strong grounding in equality & diversity, maybe due to working in the NHS, maybe it’s inherent in me but due to this the independent celebrancy route is right for me. I want to take it and make it my own. To be true to myself, my norms beliefs & values, to weave myself into my role as a celebrant just as I have in my roles as a mother, as a midwife, as a yoga for pregnancy teacher – indeed in all the things I do.