When my husband, Elton, was diagnosed with cancer in November 2021, it was a shock but one we had known would come sooner-or-later. As a recipient of a double-lung transplant 20 years earlier, there’s now an understanding that the medications you take to keep you alive, are also poisoning your immune system. It makes for a knife-edge balance, but as one of the most long-lived transplant recipients with Cystic Fibrosis, I like to see it as an extra 20 years he had of life, 18 of which I got to spend with him.

The hard part was the 6 weeks from diagnosis to his passing, and the shocked/empty/grief-ridden state you find yourself in immediately afterwards. Here I was, a celebrant with years of wedding and funeral ceremony creation under my belt, and I couldn’t even fathom how to plan anything for Elton’s passing.

It was then that I realised the true importance of that person who can step in, hold the space of your loved-ones loss and grief, and support you in the creation of a ceremony that marks their life and death.

And I was blessed to have a close friend and Witch step in to help me. To witness my tears and ramblings, to help me create the bones of a ceremony that he would then hold 2 weeks later as I and others farewelled Elton. And being on the other side of the fence, the recipient of the ceremony, truly made me grateful to my friend, and those celebrants who ground their businesses in the farewelling of loved ones through funerals.

Celebrating death