‘Mental Health and Disability – Visible and Invisible Difference’ Conference for Funeral Professionals


SUPER CONFERENCE for Funeral Professionals: The third conference in our Diversity and Inclusion series – 24 and 25 April 2021, extended programme through May 2021

Single conference only

Conference Three
Mental Health and Disability – Visible and Invisible Difference
24 and 25 April 2021, programme through May 2021

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”

– Jimmy Carter

Considering how we approach serving clients and families affected by issues that have often been stigmatised in our culture: alcoholism and addiction, disability, mental health issues, neurobiological differences and suicide.

Nick Laurie and David Miles, both funeral celebrants for many years, will be presenting their areas of expertise which have informed their celebrancy practices. Nick is a Somerset based celebrant, specialist in working with families affected by addiction. David, a winner of The Good Funeral Award for Celebrant of the Year, will talk about Approaches to Disability. Filmmaker Ngozi Ugochukwu is joining us to talk about her experiences and about language and perspective-taking. We will discuss working with families affected by disability and mental health issues, and how we approach ceremony writing and facilitation in exceptional circumstances.

9. Just finding a poem is not enough
Does our own discomfort lead us to provide a less meaningful service? We look at how we can learn to encounter both physical and psychological pain and difficulty without awkwardness or making unhelpful assumptions to up-level our service.

10. Disability… how you see me
We learn how it is to experience and live with disability from experienced funeral professional, David Miles and discover how we can work to ensure that our services are inclusive and offer an equitable opportunity to benefit from a good funeral service.

11. Perspectives on mental health and addiction
There are many forms of addiction from behaviours to substance abuse and a spectrum of mental health issues, all of which can impact on the friends and family of a person. Nick Laurie shares with us his personal and professional reflections on the whys and wherefores of alcoholism and on creating ceremonies for people whose issues have caused suffering for others.

12. Creating meaning, even when it’s complicated
A funeral ceremony has the potential to be healing. The words we use cannot be underestimated in their ability to impact clients and mourners in both positive and negative ways. In this final segment of the Super Conference we polish our skills to make sure that every service, however challenging the circumstances, fits the person who has died and our grieving clients.

Learning Objectives:
Consider how being more flexible to the needs of our clients can also benefit us as we work
Understand how we can be more aware of the diversity of mourners listening to our service
Learn how to navigate difficult family dynamics without resorting to generic poetry
Discover a social approach to disability
Learn about the unique difficulties facing a funeral celebrant in the preparation of a ceremony for someone who died by suicide
Learn how to make everyone feel included and no one feel excluded by the ceremony we’ve prepared and the service we provide
Observe how we can find paths between simply good and bad, right and wrong, success and failure as we develop trust with our clients and families

Having opportunities to ask questions in a judgement-free space
Finding our confidence as professionals and managing the fear of “putting our foot in it”

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