End of Life & Loss
Each life lived is unique and has a story to tell. As a Life-Cycle Celebrant® specializing in Funeral and Memorial ceremonies, I am dedicated to creating exceptional ceremonies to commemorate and celebrate your loved one.
You may contact me directly or your funeral director can connect with me on your behalf. I will meet with designated family members and friends for several hours to get to know the person whose life will be honoured. After this initial meeting, I spend many hours crafting a one-of-a-kind ceremony from the stories and memories you have shared. This may include researching appropriate readings and quotations, suggesting suitable music and creating symbolic rituals. I am also available to write and give a personal eulogy. I work in collaboration with the family to create the highest standard of ceremony. The ceremony is not considered complete until each and every detail has been given final approval.
Finally, I officiate at the ceremony at a venue of your choice whether it be at the funeral home, a community centre, crematorium, cemetery, home or other memorial location of your choice. I strongly believe that all lives have value and each one of us deserves to be honoured at our time of death in the form of a unique, personalized and meaningful ceremony. By applying the highest level of training that I have received through the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, you can be assured that your loved one will be remembered in an extraordinary tribute. My gift of the written word and my natural ability to relate to people from all walks of life, adds to my skill of customizing each and every ceremony I create. Each family is gifted with a keepsake ceremony. Secular or Spiritual Ceremonies are an option. Services include but are not limited to Funerals, End-of-Life Celebrations, Memorials, Committal Ceremonies and Pet Memorials.
Honouring Our Son
“Julie was the perfect choice. We could not have asked for someone who could honour our son, Fred, with more dedication, care and concern. Julie spent hours listening to Fred’s music to immerse herself in his energy as she wrote! The creative and meaningful rituals she proposed were right in line with who Fred was and added the necessary symbolism to ease our grief. In a nutshell, Julie is simply an intuitive and innovative Celebrant who cannot be compensated for the value she brings to such intimate events. Her service was priceless!”
MC Lessard, mother
“The Celebration of Life ceremony that you created for my mother was the perfect tribute to her life, sadly cut short by cancer. Knowing the end was near, I contacted you and you explained what it is that you do – a completely customized, non-religious ceremony informed by the reflections and memories of family members about the deceased. I knew immediately that your approach would create a very personalized and special ceremony honouring my mother.
Shortly after she passed away, you collected input from family members and prepared a ceremony which captured her personality, incorporated some funny and heart-warming family memories and included opportunities for family members to speak based on our wishes. You were incredibly compassionate throughout this difficult time as well as being professional and reliable as we went through the process of creating the ceremony – we knew what to expect and we were confident we were in good hands.
My mother’s ceremony included well-chosen poems and the life candle ceremony. As you promised, the sight of 200 tea lights lit by people whose lives were touched by my mother created a visual sense of her impact on the world and, as her life candle was extinguished, we were left with the feeling that she would live on through many others.
Inspired by my father’s story of planting tulips in the fall of each year in the hopes that my mother would see them come up in the spring, you proposed giving each guest a tulip bulb to plant in my mother’s honour. This was a very personal element that was warmly received by all. Many in attendance were complimentary of the unique, personalized and moving approach to the ceremony. My family and I are deeply grateful to you for guiding us through a difficult time and delivering such a fitting ceremony to remember my mother.
And thank you for conducting her burial in the spring. The ceremony was excellent, handled capably, confidently and with sensitivity in your hands, as we have seen before. You made such a difference for my family at a painful time. I know my Dad agrees that you were a part of our healing process that exceeded all expectations. I know my Mom would have liked today very much as well. Thanks again for everything.”
“I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for your involvement in my grandma’s funeral. When we sat down with the funeral home to discuss my grandmother’s wishes all I could think of was a funeral I’d recently attended that had felt so impersonal and, for lack of a better descriptor, “canned”: like the name of the deceased had been placed in a service that is read over and over without any thought or consideration to whether it represents the life of the person it’s supposed to be commemorating. My grandmother was a strong, independent, kind, and generous woman, and I knew her service needed to reflect all those things.
Sitting down to talk with you before the funeral was such an important part of the grieving process for me. Not only did I need your kindness and empathy so desperately in the days following her death but talking about her life and who she was as a person allowed me to reflect on the times we’d had together but also what her life meant to everyone that was a part of it. I know that for me the preparation of her funeral service allowed me to begin to grieve because for the first time since she started to suffer from the symptoms of dementia I could focus on the grandma that I wanted to remember.
Your ability to navigate the complexities of our family’s situation was greatly appreciated as my grandma’s funeral certainly did not bring everyone together. I’m thankful that you offered everyone the opportunity to participate and were able to take all of our feedback to create a service that was representative of all parts of my Grandma’s life. Your suggestions for incorporating different rituals into the funeral service were so helpful in recognizing our sadness but also remembering my Grandma’s feisty nature and how she would want to be remembered.
Your soft spoken yet commanding presence is such a rare find in an officiant and had my Grandma been there, she would have been so pleased with how we celebrated her life and by our choice of the person who led us through her service. She would have appreciated your compassion as much as she would have enjoyed your sense of humour.
I am so lucky to have had such a close relationship with my Grandma and I will be forever thankful that you were able to help us celebrate her life in a way that honoured who she was and the wonderful community of people she surrounded herself with. You captured the essence of who she was beautifully and every moment and word was dedicated to celebrating her life, the good times and the bad. Thank you for your support and gentle kindness during my family’s time of need.”
“I want to say a huge thank you on behalf of my family and myself for performing such a beautiful Celebration of Life Service for my father. It was like a story of his life more than a funeral. Everybody commented on how lovely it was and how well you conducted the service. Not to mention how uplifted everybody felt on such a sad day. The service was just beautiful and you truly captured dad’s personality to a tee. It was an absolute honour and pleasure meeting you and I do hope we will see you again. When the time comes to bury his ashes, you would be the first and only person for us to use, especially as I truly believe my father has touched you and your life as well.
Thank you Julie for truly being the right person for the job. We would definitely recommend you and your services to anyone! My step-mother, sister and I kept saying it was just perfect and exactly what we had hoped for. The Ceremony was done in such a fitting way for our family, and really represented my dad and the wonderful man he was.” Colleen, daughter
A True Tribute
(Ottawa Valley, summer 2013)
“Julie’s open minded, creative and progressive approach with each and every family she encounters is a great asset for families seeking assistance while planning an appropriate final send off for their loved one. Her non-cookie cutter approach to funeral services will be a great asset for those who have no faith background, varying faith backgrounds or who are spiritual or secular and have no church affiliation. Julie will help guide them through the planning process of a service. Stepping out of the box, Julie finds key points that seem of importance to create a true tribute to who that person was, from something as basic as a favourite song to embracing their love of Tim Horton’s with Timmie’s coffee served for all during the service. Through the entire planning process all parties involved (including funeral home staff) are kept in the loop as to what is happening and questions are welcomed along the way. Finding someone with a profound passion to help others is not easy to come by in this day and age but that is exactly what Julie has”
Caitlin, Funeral Director, Pembroke
LOSS & RELEASE
Life is made up of beginnings and endings. Although an ending may be for the best and may get us to where we need to be, it does not make the letting go of what once was any easier. Ceremonies of Release or Loss help the honouree to reflect on what has been and helps to shift their focus to what is to come. Losses are experienced by each of us in very unique and profound ways. If you are having difficulty moving forward from a loss, a ceremony might be the catalyst needed to get unstuck and transition from that experience. The reasons for a Ceremony of Release are numerous but some of the more common reasons are: loss of a relationship (divorce), loss of health, loss of a job/ career or after a trauma or an unexpected betrayal. If you have suffered a loss and need a way to take the next step, let me help you do that through ceremony.
“I was anxious and overwrought when my friend was dying in hospital. We had shared so much, yet this was something I felt ill-equipped to handle. I fumbled along, trying to say what my heart felt when I thought it was the right time. It was then that Julie stepped forward, one of our “core” mothers in our group and offered to perform a Celebration of Life WITH my dear friend and our closest sisters. There was a brightness to my life in the two short days I prepared. Julie had instructed us to each write a small piece to read to Her and to choose a single bead that would be strung for our Friend to hold with the hope it would comfort her. I actually felt that I was DOING something constructive! The Ceremony was lovingly tailored to our “Warrior Mama” and we all bonded yet again through this newest of experiences. It brought great comfort to the sisters left behind. Our Dear Friend did find her own comfort in our direct attention to “The Elephant in The Room” that was her impending death, and her beads traveled with her to her reward.”
Karen, ceremony participant
Lean On Me…
“Thank you for leading our sisterhood group on The BLESSING ceremony for our friend dying of cancer. We knew we needed to gather, but then what? You helped us focus our love and grief into a celebration with our friend, honouring her as the important part of our sisterhood, blessing her and creating a ritual that allowed us all to be strong, present and powerfully filled with strength to go forward. For her knowing she was loved and for us knowing we would move forward with a sacred stone in her memory. A life changing and positive experience.”
Kim, ceremony participant