Sue was the celebrant for my MIL's memorial service, and I cannot say enough about how caring, thoughtful, and all around wonderful Sue was through this process. She created a ceremony that beautifully reflected my MIL and the wishes of the family, incorporated grief and joy seamlessly, and allowed space for both laughter and sadness. She holds a quiet, soft strength, and many attendees commented on her incredible grounding energy through the memorial. She helped to make a very hard day feel special, meaningful, and personal.

- Altaira North

Funerals and Celebrations of Life

For many of us, a loved one’s death is one of the most challenging experiences we face, and making decisions can be difficult. We live in a culture that doesn’t like to talk about death, and this makes it even harder for us to move through our pain and grief. 

I believe in the power of ceremony and ritual to help us work through our pain, join us together in connection, and find meaning even in the darkest of nights. Grief is not something you ever “get over”, but sharing our pain can help us feel less alone. As a Life-Cycle Celebrant and Inter-faith Minister, I am trained in creating modern and personalized ceremonies that truly honor the life of your loved one.
The ceremony you created was just what I needed to as final closure. Thank you for providing such sensitive and sacred facilitation in marking this life changing event for me – it was healing for my whole community.

- J.W.

What is the difference between Funerals & Celebrations of Life?

A Funeral is typically held a few days after your loved one passes, and may include a viewing, as well as a graveside service. Allow me to gently guide you and your family across the threshold from living life with your loved one present, to living life with them gone.

A Celebration of Life is typically held several months – several years after the passing. Because the grief is less fresh, this is an opportunity to really celebrate the life of your loved one, and often feels a bit more like a party.

Where does the ceremony take place?

This is your choice, and I will join you and your family wherever you choose to honor your loved one, whether it is at a Funeral Home, private residence, nature area to scatter ashes, or graveside. There is no one way we have to do things, and our options are as unique as your loved one.

What is the process like for working with you?

First things first, reach out to me by phone call, text or email. The next step is for me to come to your home to meet with you and your family for a few hours. This is a chance for you to show me photos and for us to connect and chat about your loved one’s life. Inviting friends and relatives to join us helps me to get a complete picture. 

We’ll talk about music, who will be speaking, and how we can pay tribute to your loved one’s beliefs and unique essence. I’ll leave with a rough plan, and possibly contact info for relatives or friends who were unable to attend but have memories to share. I’ll create a ceremony script, which I will then email to you, and you get the chance to read it over and give feedback. You get final say over every word I say about your loved one.

What about difficult deaths?

A loved one’s passing can be challenging for different reasons. They may have passed at a young age, or in a traumatic way. There may be challenging family dynamics to work through, and in some cases they may have been a difficult person to get along with. As a Life-Cycle Celebrant, I am specifically trained in navigating difficult circumstances, and telling the truth in a way that is honest, respectful and loving.

What do you think about involving kids?

Death is a natural part of life, and involving kids in viewings, rituals and ceremonies is a way for them to process their feelings and learn about death. This helps them to grow into adults who are curious and open about death, instead of feeling fearful and avoidant. There are lots of simple ways we can involve kids in ceremonies, and often just having them there can be healing for the adults present.

Let's meet up for coffee and discuss your options.

contact me
Thank you so much Sue for the memorial you created for our client. It was exactly what we needed. You gave us space to put all our feelings out there, to feel them and to move through them together. You really met the needs of both the clients and staff at 28th ave homes. It was the perfect length for our special needs clients, and the language was accessible and kept everyone connected and engaged. You made space for hard feelings but also kept it positive and inspiring. We would love to bring you back for our next in-house memorial.

- Sherry Kingston

Sue Cairnie Ceremonies is based in the Okanagan, BC Canada, on the unceded territories of the Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations.
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