Celebrant Profile – Bruce Eldridge
Our second Celebrant Profile features Bruce Eldridge, someone we have worked closely with over the last eleven years. Time and again, Bruce has proven himself as a dedicated, empathetic and compassionate celebrant, a consummate storyteller. His warmth, humour and listening skills make him an excellent celebrant. Bruce has the enviable ability of delivering a funeral service in such a way that you feel he knew the person intimately. Bruce believes everyone has a unique story to tell, and the funeral service is an opportunity to honour and celebrate that story. Indeed Bruce describes himself as a story teller, seeing his primary role as helping a family tell the story of their loved one and he does it extremely well.
Originally from Adelaide, Bruce has lived in Ballarat for the last 26 years and as Bruce puts it “he has become part of the local community to the extent that it is possible for a person not born here”. Married for 45 years, he and his wife Jenni have three adult children and an increasing number of grandchildren.
Over his working life Bruce has worked with adult offenders, terminally ill teenagers, supporting socially isolated older people and spent 12 years as a hospital chaplain. Outside of work, Bruce is always up for new experiences and at various times has been a basketball umpire, competition debater, player of bit parts in live theatre, a volunteer at Sovereign Hill, member of a local choir, Probus, lawn bowler and traveller, both within Australia and overseas.
Bruce is someone who cares greatly about people, he is genuinely interested in hearing the stories and this is reflected in every funeral service he delivers. On occasion there are funerals that prove to be more challenging than other for a number of reasons. Bruce is someone who excels in these instances. We have full confidence in Bruce, knowing his approach will be compassionate and empathetic and that the service will be delivered with genuine care. We look forward to our continued working relationship with Bruce.
Suicide is a reality in our community. And it is happening far too often, especially among our young people.
Many Ballarat families are living with the trauma and grief of suicide. Some families understand the reason for the decision to suicide. For other families, death by suicide comes out of nowhere. Either way, the aftermath of suicide is deeply painful and often the sense of guilt can be crippling. Families and friends are left devastated and numb.
In the past, suicide has been a topic very few were willing to discuss; the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding it often made the grieving process even more difficult. Thankfully today there are a large number of support groups within the community helping those living with the aftermath. A number of these groups have been founded by those who have lost someone to suicide. These groups can offer a safe place to share your experience with people in a similar situation and connect you with a great support network.
For further information visit these sites.
On a personal level, you can help a friend bereaved by suicide by reading the Support after Suicide website (www.supportaftersuicide.org.au). This may help with understanding what may be really important to them:
· to be really listened to, heard and understood
· non judgemental, compassionate support
· an opportunity to tell the story over and over again
· a safe and supportive environment
· to be able to express their grief in their own way
· to have no time limits imposed
In the weeks and months following the death, practical support is invaluable: drop by with a meal: mow the grass or make a trip to the supermarket – these small gestures make the world of difference.
Just be there.
Outdoor Balloon Releases.
We recently received information from Zoos Victoria on their latest conservation campaign and it is one that is close to our hearts; replacing balloon releases at outdoor events, (funerals included) with something far kinder to the environment and the many animals, particularly marine, who share the world with us.
Certainly the sight of balloons rising is pretty but the sight of dead and dying sea creatures is not. On the remote Lord Howe Island, off Australia’s east coast, Flesh-footed Shearwaters are currently in decline due to mistakenly ingesting rubbish that has found its way into our oceans. In many cases, adult birds are feeding their chicks this rubbish thinking it is food. Baby birds are often found underweight and starving; without urgent intervention they could die before ever leaving the nest.
A 2014 survey found 100% of Flesh-footed Shearwater chicks had ingested rubbish. Throughout many years of study on Lord Howe Island, balloons and their attachments continue to be one of the most identifiable items found in these birds1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjYnhYPD5Wc&index=1&list=PLq_FuJlj2gUyRBPlTB5jx7D4zErM0rDQJ
So how can we make a difference? There are many alternatives which can still be meaningful without doing harm, the simplest being bubbles. Perhaps a packet of seeds for mourners to take home and plant; trees in tubes, petals or lighting of candles. All these are a great alternative and the use of seeds or seedlings is a long term reminder as well as environmentally beneficial.
A company Blissful Butterflies, provide butterflies for release. Of course this is dependent on season and availability. You will find more information on their website. www.blissfulbutterflies.com.au
Ultimately it is a personal choice and each of us will make our own decision. At Harrison Funerals we would encourage everyone to consider the less harmful alternatives and make a more conscious effort to create a safer world for our precious wildlife. www.zoo.org.au
Funerals and the traditions associated with them are a vital part of the grief and mourning process. Funerals allow us to acknowledge the reality of the death, to reflect on the life lived, and to reaffirm the importance of the deceased person in our own lives. A funeral offers an important support and comfort mechanism.
Funeral directors often hear; “Mum/dad/ husband/wife didn’t want a fuss”. A funeral is not a fuss for the very reasons mentioned above: comfort, support and remembering. Funerals are about the deceased but they are for the living.
Today, around 10% of the population are choosing not to have a funeral service. Sadly, this can deny bereaved family and friends a vital step in the recovery process. Although you may not want the ‘fuss’ of a funeral, your family may need it. So, talk to them, ask them what their expectations are. Remember, your death will have a huge impact on those who love you and they need the opportunity to grieve and mourn in a way that helps them.
A recent edition of our association magazine featured an article by Dr Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D, a renowned author, educator and grief counsellor. Dr Wolfelt holds workshops across North America every year for Funeral Directors, advocating the value of meaningful funeral experiences. He will also present at the Australian Funeral Directors Association’s National Convention in Melbourne in March 2017. What most struck chord with me were three headings in the article:
Reality – “It’s hard to accept the finality of death but the funeral helps us begin to. At first we accept it with our heads and only over time we come to accept it in our hearts.”
Expression – “When we grieve but don’t mourn, our sadness can feel unbearable and our many other emotions can fester. Mourning helps us heal and the funeral is an essential rite of initiation for mourning.”
Support, which I touched on above. ”Funerals are in remembrance of the person who has died but they are for the living. A special time to support one another in grief.”
Each of us will deal with death and grief in our own way, there is no right or wrong and it could be argued this includes whether or not to have a funeral. Today however, as we see funerals become a more personalised occasion, the value of them has only increased and if people leave with the feeling, “It was a good funeral”, then it has served its purpose.
Celebrants play a vital role in modern day funeral services. As a funeral director, you place an inordinate amount of faith in your celebrant, as they are a reflection on and of you. You trust that they will care for your families with empathy, respect and compassion and Ballarat is extremely lucky to have a number of excellent celebrants. Kate Ritchie is one of them.
Brian and I first meet Kate eighteen months ago when she returned to her home town of Ballarat after 15 years in Melbourne. As a professional vocalist, Kate had performed locally and internationally, appearing regularly at Crown Casino, Hard Rock Café, The Langham Hotel, Spring Racing Carnival, Australian Open Tennis, Melbourne Grand Prix, Prime Ministers Olympic Dinner at Vodafone Arena, MCG and Etihad Stadium. However, following the birth of her first child, the night time work wasn’t ideal and so in 2008 Kate took the necessary steps to become a Commonwealth Authorised Celebrant, able to officiate at weddings, funerals and other life ceremonies.
Kate’s resume is impressive. Kate has been a Finalist in the Australian Bridal Industry Awards for the past six years, including the 2016 awards, and has ranked each year amongst the Top 13 Civil Celebrants in Victoria. These awards are voted by past ‘Brides & Grooms’, and reflect the opinions of those whose weddings Kate has had the privilege of being part of.
Kate feels honoured to have provided services to many families who have experienced the loss of a loved one, a role she undertakes with compassion and empathy. Kate tells me she feels very grateful to families for sharing their stories at such a difficult time, thus allowing her to create a dignified and personal service that reflects the person. Kate does all she can to ensure when creating each ceremony the process is as stress free as possible.
Professional in all aspects, well spoken and organised, delivering her services with confidence and genuine warmth, Kate is someone we enjoy working with. With her easy and personable manner, it is not hard to understand why families speak so highly of Kate. We look forward to our continuing working relationship with Kate.
See more of Kate at her website www.ceremoniesbykate.com and on Facebook.
Over 31 years of marriage, Brian and I have planted hundreds and possibly thousands of trees at our various homes. The trees have been exotic, flowering and fruiting, each with its own special beauty. For us it is about strengthening our environment and creating something beautiful and practical, for us, our children, the local fauna, birds and our community.
On opening our funeral home eleven years ago, we were keen to be as environmentally friendly as possible. A fortuitous meeting with Colleen Filippa of 15trees in 2010, gave us the opportunity to take steps to offset the carbon associated with funerals.
Initially we decided for each cremation we conducted, a mature tree would be planted. Working with 15trees, the trees are sourced locally and offered to local entities such as schools, land care groups and community gardens. In September 2010 our first trees were planted at the Garibaldi Hall. In the following five years, close to 300 trees were distributed. Primary schools of Ballarat and district have been the most significant recipients.
2016 saw us expand our contribution to include burials. Up to this point, well over 300 trees have now been planted. Brian and I have attended a number of planting days at various schools, Miner’s Rest Primary School being one of them and the Learmonth Community Garden another. It’s been wonderful to see the parents and children involved. The pride and joy they feel in being part of the rejuvenation of their school yards and gardens with fruit and shade trees, is heart-warming. A number of schools have kitchen gardens and over the years fruit from their own orchard will be on the menu. So not only is the environment benefitting, so too are the children.
The response from families regarding our tree planting program is extremely positive and we look forward to a long and green association with Colleen Filippa and 15 trees.
(Don’t forget to follow us on facebook to keep up with our seasonal plantings.)