This has been a pretty eventful year for me. In January I attended a writers’ retreat at Myres Castle. It was the perfect way to start the year. A chance to review things and think about my plans to become a funeral celebrant. A chance to get away from the usual day-to-day pressures and routines of life. And, of course, a chance to meet some lovely people and spend my days writing.

At the end of February I left the University of Dundee. It was an emotional farewell but I was glad to be moving on even if I knew I would miss working alongside so many wonderful and talented people.

I officially launched my new career in March and became a professional civil funeral celebrant. It’s a scary thing to launch a new business but also exhilarating. My first month was spent turning the ideas I had about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it into concrete plans and leaflets and a website.

Which is all very well, but in April I actually conducted my first ceremony. As with every funeral, it was an enormous privilege to act as celebrant. It was also hugely nerve-wracking.

But it seemed to go well and it was a massive boost to my confidence to be able to say that I had completed my first job. Of course, what has followed has been a series of other “firsts” – first funeral outwith Dundee, first with a funeral director other than the Co-op, first graveside ceremony… And it’s worth emphasizing that every single job is unique – presents its own challenges.

I couldn’t be sure, when I started on this new path, whether it would be successful or not. And I’m still finding it hard to make connections with funeral directors. But as 2019 comes to a close I know I made the right decision and I’m looking forward to 2020 with confidence and anticipation.

Michael Hannah, Dundee, 30th December 2019

Goodbye 2019

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