The current pandemic and associated response has brought about a number of changes to my work as a community celebrant.
With regard to all weddings, these have been and still remain suspended, although there are signs that some of the restrictions preventing these will be relaxed somewhat in the coming weeks. Even when couples are able to progress their legal ceremonies, it is likely to be a while before they hold their celebrant-led event, given the continuing restrictions on large gatherings, the difficulties of effectively managing social distancing in such settings and that key family members may well still be shielded due to their vulnerability. Most of my couples have postponed their ceremonies until next year, although I currently have several bookings for this August. Time will tell if these go ahead as planned.
Funerals have of course continued, although my interactions with families have changed dramatically. In usual circumstances I would almost always visit bereaved families in their homes. Now we rely upon the telephone or video conferencing software. On the day of the ceremony we would normally have direct contact through hugs or handshakes, rather than socially distanced conversations and hand gestures. Despite some relaxation of the numbers allowed to attend in person, these remain limited and the use of live webcasts have come into their own. As a celebrant this means I need to tailor my delivery to both those in the room and those watching through a camera.
Needless to say many of these changes have made a difficult experience for families even more challenging. As is often the way in darker times, however, I am regularly touched, humbled and inspired by the strength, courage and resilience of the human spirit. Ironically it is in times like these we can see humanity at its best.