Death is a profound rite of passage that escapes no-one.
Facing the end of life process – whether through illness or old age, disease or accident – can be made meaningful and bearable by creating the appropriate rituals and celebrations. End of life ceremonies to mark this final passage, and the people and relationships involved, are incredibly important.
The funeral is the most sacred and profound ceremony to conduct. It is the final authoring of ones life. To honour a life, I take an holistic approach. I attend and care for my families on many levels and the way I approach creating the ceremony is creatively and collaboratively with the families. I also work with my families at the end-of-life stage preparing them and their loved one for death and funeral plans.
As much as possible in the time frames we work within, I thoroughly research a person’s life and conduct a 360 degree review process – interviewing beyond family, either in person or by phone and email, to include neighbours, colleagues and friends. It is this that enables me to create a very intimate portrait of the person and write and deliver a custom created and very personal ceremony.
Some recent feedback and words of thanks from my families:
You’ve been on my mind so much this week. I’ve been trying to think of a way to say ‘thank you’ for your contribution to the wonderful life celebration we gave Dad. The first day we met you was like being gifted with a beautiful light. Your warmth, openness, love and genuine presence immediately shone and filled us all with light and love at one of the most difficult times of our lives. I keep telling people a difficult day turned into a most beautiful day – and everyone agrees. We have had so many incredible comments about Dad’s send off and in particular the way you got know our family and most importantly, Dad. I’ve been asked if you’re a family friend, to which I now reply “Yes”! Our family and friends were genuinely awestruck by our stories and your delivery of the service, how you got to know us, Dad and our ’style’ of family. You helped fill the day with light and love, not the heavyness and sadness people usually relate to a funeral. Your support to each and every one of us and especially to mum, is immeasurable,. My best friend of 37 years, told me Dad’s send off was one of the most defining and vivid moments in her life. She said it will stay with her forever, evoking the fondest memories, the feeling of love, friendship and family. I think we pretty much all agree. It’s quite incredible to see a person who is truly doing something they love. You can always tell people who are filling their heart, they shine brighter than everyone and their light ignites others. This is you Sarah – thank you for lighting us in the darkest of times. Much love to you – we hope to see you again soon. Xxxx
Hi Sarah. You made our what started off being very traumatic time become a time of something of extreme love and sharing. You took the bull by the horns from the moment you first walked into our turned upside down, chaotic, grieving lives, you were able to guide us into an orderly and somewhat absolute peaceful path. You have a wonderful gift Sarah and according to everyone I spoke at the service a very special way of delivering and sharing it with grieving souls. It was even suggested to me by several people that it was the best service that they had ever attended. Thank you again with deep gratitude and a truck load of love. Ron xx
Thank you again for the wonderful, creative and very special ceremony for Alby. Lee Cavender
Thanks Sarah, yes it was a lovely service and a beautiful day. I think he would have loved it. As I look back over the day, there’s not a single thing I would change – I just wish we had taken some photos! Oh well, it’s in my minds eye which is the most important place. Thank you for all your help and support and wisdom and grace. We could not have done it without you. I received many lovely comments about your poise and sensitivity and the quality and intimacy of the service. I thought we were a great team, and it has certainly brought us together as a family, both immediate and extended. See you soon, lots of love, xxxxxx
Dear Sarah. A big thankyou for all your support and lovely words. You made a very sad day a very beautiful day, not just for all the family but all the friends. xxx
Dear Sarah, Thank you for your beautiful words and your lovely energy. I felt this week brought us all closer together and rekindled some old friendships as well. Thank you to everyone. I enjoyed this special time together. Love and Light to all xxx
Family of Audrey Lamb:
Thank you so much for all your caring, thoughtful and also very professional (in only the very best way!) help over the last few weeks. Yesterday morning, when talking about Mum’s farewell, Ros, Gavan and I all agreed that the ceremony and celebration of Mum’s life was so much smoother, caring, and personal than it could possibly have been, without you and all your help. I also need to mention that in the phone calls that I’ve had with friends over the last two days talking about Mum’s funeral, they all (without exception) asked after you, commenting on what a wonderful presence you had, and how you brought it all together so caringly and smoothly. Needless to say your name has been ‘passed on’. But most of all, thank you so much for making such an exceptionally difficult, stressful and challenging time, as smooth as it could possibly be, and working with us always to make our way through the glitches. Thank you from the bottom of (our) my heart(s). Big Hug! Kate Lamb
Family of Bob Merkenhoff (excerpt from letter to CEO of Invocare)
Firstly, Simplicity did a good job of managing the practical logistics, like care of the body handling and liaising with the many suppliers etc. However, it was Sarah Tolmie the celebrant who was responsible for making Robert’s service such a wonderful tribute and celebration of life. I would imagine that there is a limited budget in the cost of the funeral to maybe provide the level of service that Sarah provided to us. She was more expensive than the average celebrant but she was worth every penny when for us, honouring Robert in the way he deserved was our absolute objective. It has been nearly 4 months now since Robert died and I still get people raving about the celebrant and the service. So well done to Sarah Tolmie for doing a fantastic job, well done to Simplicity Funerals for doing well what they did and to looking at ways of doing it even better in the future. Debbie Merkenhoff
Brother of Trevor Moore (41 years old)
Again thanks for a very memorable service, the best I have ever had the honour, of being a part of. Stewart Moore
Parents of Zachary Massy-Green (2 days old)
Sarah thank you for such a beautiful and special service for Zach. Your care held us together and the way you created Zach’s ceremony, creating his personality for everyone there to get to know him was amazing. You gave words and language to what we were feeling and what we needed people to know. Watching one hundred people silently blow bubbles over the beautiful observation deck at Mount Tomah, sending their prayers and messages to Zach is the most poignant, beautiful memory for us of the day. Thank you. Randal and Trichelle
Parents of Liam Burgers (13 years old)
Thank you Sarah for such heartfelt service and support. We knew from your experience with Jeremiah you understood. So many friends and parents have told us it was the most amazing experience they have ever had at a funeral and so grateful that their children had the opportunity to experience such a wonderful ceremony for their friend. Watching 300 children and parents throwing colourful paper aeroplanes at each other and smiling and laughing was just incredible and an inspired way to celebrate our boy and who he was. It was more than we expected we could ever achieve for Liam. You gave us smiles and laughter and joy in amongst our anguish and tears. We don’t know how to thank you. Kathy and Steve
Daughter of Don McDonald (89 years old)
Sarah thank you for the exceptional ceremony for dad. Everyone said it was a wonderful and enjoyable service. It was a complete and real celebration of his life. Thank you for including so many people and for helping me to speak in public. The preparation you gave me to be able to speak confidently at his service was a profound gift. You don’t know how important that was to me and I have since used those skills at work too! You are a very special lady with a great gift to listen and work from the heart and the head. At a difficult and emotional time, you stepped into our family with grace and patience and got the best out of all of us for the sake of our dad. We can’t thank you enough. Trish.