Testimonials – The experience of others
In 1978 I had a beautiful premature baby girl, Sarah, who only lived for a day. There was no counselling or understanding for mothers like me or babies like Sarah and I just pushed the pain deep inside for 38 years. When after all that time I realised the unresolved grief was weighing on me too heavily I decided to give her the farewell both she and I deserved but never received. I thought I was the only one whose life had been affected by her passing but it soon became clear to me when we started discussing the ceremony that my children's lives had also been shaped by it and they and my grandchildren were very involved in the process.
I had met Victoria at a community memorial picnic she runs yearly and I knew from listening to her speak with such compassion that day, that she was the person who could give Sarah the ceremony she deserved with sensitivity and dignity. Victoria organised a special and moving naming and honouring ceremony which was beautiful and simple and took place in my garden with my family and close friends. This has been a great thing for myself my family. To have Sarah acknowledged as part of our family and for her short life to be honoured with beautiful words, music and flowers.”
Supporting living and dying, with clarity and care.
I approached Victoria when my sisters and I were told Dad had 12 months to live. There is little guidance for carers of the dying in our culture, or awareness of how to bring meaning to this monumental life event. Victoria was crucial in illuminating a conscious journey through Dad’s illness, to empower me to hold the space for him as he grew closer to death and in the dying moments themselves.
She offered practical advice on palliative care, informed me of my rights when engaging with the medical system and the often fraught funeral industry. The funeral parlours we met with only offered pre packaged funeral rites which didn’t allow for uniquely tailored experiences. With Victoria’s help, my family was able to define this time in our own way through the language and confidence she instilled in us to shape this process according to Dad’s wishes and our own values. One of his wishes was to die at home. Through Victoria’s support and that of the palliative care team, we were able to honour this which brought an unforgettable intimacy to the process.
Dad also didn’t want a funeral. Instead, my sisters and I sat with him for a few days after his death, something I didn’t even know we were allowed to do until Victoria informed us of the possibilities. In sitting with Dad, watching his body change, feeling his energy journey elsewhere, allowed a deep sense of resolve and acceptance on a cellular level which began a more embodied grief process for me. Victoria helped me hold my own seat of meaning so that I was able to walk as deeply as I could into the experience. Sharing Dad’s dying process in this way allowed me to open my heart to something I had always feared - my death or the death of someone I love. With her passionate wisdom and unwavering presence, Victoria helped this experience of death awaken me to life. I am deeply grateful for her courageous work.
A sudden death, the loss of our daughter.
Victoria was our guide through a seemingly impossible time and we continue to find her an invaluable support after the sudden death of our daughter. The devastation that followed in the wake of our little girl's unexpected death was not just the personal and emotional aftermath. It was also the grievous load the everyday world placed upon two people supporting a confused young son and trying to get through even the most mundane tasks. Life didn't let us simply retreat to heal after our girl's death.
At our most vulnerable, we were required to deal with establishments ranging from our own extended family, law enforcement and the judiciary, through to funeral homes and educational bodies. Victoria was indispensable in almost all of these facets; From being able to articulate in tone-perfect language what we were going through in the grief process to other members of our family, to helping us make moral and sound financial choices about the best way to celebrate our daughter's life, to what to expect from venues, caterers and coroner's courts. She provided clear-headed support, with spiritual grace and a truly authentic understanding of our needs.
Victoria went on to counsel both me and my wife in the months after our daughter's death and her guidance on how to address this with our son, I'm sure, will mean that he grows up a boy less scarred by her loss than if we'd had to go-it-alone. Victoria was the end of life celebrant for our beloved daughter and I am so very glad she was there.
The funeral was only the beginning.
From our very first meeting, Victoria planted the seeds of a relationship that has helped me tremendously in dealing with the death of my husband a year-and-a-half ago. While preparing for his funeral, she listened to my needs and counselled me with incredible wisdom about the new phase I was entering with my beloved. Her insightful words stayed with me in the following months and guided me as I grieved. But the funeral was only the beginning. She kept in touch, emailing me to see how I was doing, to pass on a helpful resource, or to invite me to her inspirational community memorial picnic. And when I got ready to leave the apartment where my husband died, Victoria helped create the perfect ceremony for the occasion. She taught me just how powerful rituals can be in processing the emotions that come with dramatic change.
Through union, birth and death.
Since marrying us, Victoria has been involved in many profound moments of our lives, some as large in scale as our wedding and some much smaller and more intimate. Vic performed Naming Ceremonies for our first two children in a grassy knoll in the street we lived in, again helping us to create meaningful ceremony outside the tradition of Church christenings. We celebrated their arrivals with a small circle of friends and family and shared the meanings of their names in a place that had relevance, something always important to us.
When Nic's brother died not long after the birth of our second child, Victoria was the person the family immediately thought to turn to. In grief, the family needed someone who could both guide and listen, who knew the business and could be sensitive to all the emotions in the room. Much more than a funeral celebrant, she works skilfully and compassionately with families in such a delicate time.
With Vic's help, we were able to hold the funeral at Clovelly Surf Life Saving Club,which held a strong sense of home and community for all present. She has journeyed with through the births of our now three children, naming our little one in our new home one afternoon over tea. With the Life Rites process Victoria has developed and her innate wisdom and gifts, she is an integral part of how we reflect upon tour lives.