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Janne Sverdloff Celebrant - Sydney Marriage & Funeral Celebrant
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Wedding Anniversary

Many years ago on this day my mum and dad were married. Neither of them is with us anymore but on their day I think about them and the life they shared as husband and wife. Their marriage was far from perfect but they stuck together, raising four children and devoting themselves to their grandchildren with great love and care.

As I look at these photos I see the love and hope that was no doubt a part of their big day. Mum was a great beauty and dad scrubbed up okay too. My Aunty Rhonda and Aunty Barbara were the bridesmaids, neither of them is still alive, but they were also a big part our lives growing up.

Some aspects of the wedding have changed greatly since this time but others remain the same. As I reflect on this and the marriages I perform it reminds me that we need to move on as a society and have marriage reflect the time in which we live. I very much look forward to marriage equality and I know that my mum and dad would wish for this too. I don’t think we ever had the conversation but they were always completely accepting and inclusive and I know they would want everyone to have the right to marry as they did.
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3/26/17
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On Saturday I had the privilege of marrying a beautiful couple, who just happened to be ex-students of mine. Their love began as 12 year olds and 16 years later they are now husband and wife. It was such a special day for me and as I drove home from their ceremony I was still very much caught up in the love that was present.

It was wonderful to spend time learning about their lives, their relationship and their hopes for the future while we were preparing their wedding ceremony. From the moment we first met to get started, they expressed their excitement about having me be their celebrant. They told me how special it was to have someone they knew take on that role. Well it was very, very special for me to take on the role and to be a significant part of their very special day.

I also taught some of the groomsmen and the two maids of honour and as I officiated I looked out on the people gathered to witness the marriage, I was able to look into the eyes of many students who I had taught as teenagers. They had all grown to be such confident and beautiful young adults and catching up with them after the ceremony filled my heart. I came home with a photo of almost all of my year 9 Dance class!

As I reflect on what was a wonderful day for me I hope that for Jess and Adrian it was also all that they wished for!
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When I sit down with a family or the friends of a person who has died, I sit down in a space filled with love, a room where those present have the united purpose of finding a fitting way to celebrate a life. There is sadness, the grief of loss, but in the stories I am told there is also joy and with it gratitude for the life that has been shared.

I have the privilege of getting to know the person through the eyes of those who have loved them. While I only ever get to see a photograph of this loved one, in reality I get to see much more than that. A complete picture forms as the story is shared, bringing forth with it details of the life lived, details of a unique personality, details of a sense of humour, core values and spiritual beliefs.

Last night I conducted a Christmas memorial service, everyone present had lost a loved one this year, each is on a journey, finding their way through their grief and each journey is as unique as those they have lost. Christmas can be a challenging time for those who grieve, it is a time when they feel the loss of their loved ones acutely. It is, therefore, a time to go gently and to be patient with the journey of grieving.

Some wise words from Helen Keller -

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose.

All that we love deeply become part of us.
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Last week I officiated a funeral for a wonderful man who among other things was an accomplished public speaker. Of course I hoped that he would have been happy with my performance at the service and was very happy to have this feedback from one of his friends -
"I am the President of Rostrum Public Speaking Clubs of NSW, and I recently attended a funeral ceremony which was conducted by Janne. I was very impressed with her balanced blend of professionalism and compassion, and several other senior members of Rostrum who also attended the ceremony, commented on her expertise as a public speaker and her well-developed interpersonal skills. Janne comes across as being a Celebrant who does her homework and relates well to people under stressful circumstances. As a fellow professional, I have no hesitation in recommending Janne to anyone seeking a Celebrant of undoubted distinction."
Edwin Chadbourne
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The last couple of weeks I have been busy with ceremonies and meetings with lovely people who have shared openly some of the most intimate stories from their lives. I should probably be writing a ceremony right now but it feels timely to reflect on the journey of recent times.

With funeral celebrations, a renewal of vows ceremony and preparations for weddings to come I have witnessed tears of joy and sorrow and been moved by the love I have witnessed, which has been in abundance. I have also been left feeling eternally grateful for the life that I have.

It can be a challenge to shape someone’s story in a way that is authentic and then to weave it into a ceremony that is unique but it is also something to be enjoyed. Seeing the faces of those gathered for the celebration and the looks of recognition and appreciation as they hear the words I have crafted, is rewarding and also very reassuring. I will never lose sight of the importance of telling each story in the right way…
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In our lives nobody can avoid being touched by grief, by the loss of a loved one. The Buddhist lesson is that there is no house that has not been touched. Grief is an experience that is unique for everyone, depending on the person who has passed away, the relationship to that person and their age at the time of passing. It will also be affected by the circumstances of the death. Along with these the personal response to death is dependant on the life experience of the grieving loved one. In our society we are not necessarily prepared for the experience of death or what it is like to lose someone. Religions have their beliefs of the significance of death and explanations for what happens after death but not everyone ascribes to these. You can pick up countless books on grieving or head to websites that will explain the ‘normal’ response and these can be very helpful. However, ultimately we are on our own in terms of our response and how we deal with it. This makes crucial the collective response to death and the way in which we celebrate the life of the loved one in the funeral service. It is a very important ritual that deserves time and care in its preparation so that you can be left feeling that the funeral was exactly what the loved one deserved and would have themselves felt proud to attend. It is an event that offers the opportunity for friends and family to share their grief and offer support to one another. Of course this mustn’t stop there, it is important for the sharing and celebration to continue so that the memory of the person being celebrated can live on in the lives of others.
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Have really enjoyed meeting with some gorgeous couples over the last two weeks to plan some really special ceremonies for later this year and early next year. It is great that there is so much individuality in the types of weddings being planned. It is such a privilege to be involved in helping to bring to life the dreams of those looking forward to being married. Such a buzz... http://www.jannesverdloffcelebrant.com/jannes-blog/
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