Joseph Arena JP
Celebrating the journey of life with compassion and dignity
I am absolutely honoured to be a member of the Picaluna family of funeral planners and celebrants.
We meet many of our clients at their most desperate moments, and it is a privilege to be a member of a tribe of caring and compassionate souls, who are not motivated by the up sell, but devote their hearts and creative minds with a sense of vocation to embrace the spirit of the vulnerable in our care.
We hold your hand and become a part of your family, and help you take all the time you need to do it your way, and ensure that you celebrate the final journey of your cherished soul in the most authentic way imaginable.
Unfortunately, the most emotionally traumatic moments in my life have been associated with putting my immediate family members to rest. It didn’t need to be that way!
I will never allow anyone in my care to endure such unnecessary anguish.
As a 10 year old boy, I sat next to my grieving mother and held her hand as she planned her father’s funeral. The Italian tradition for many in this country is that we put our family to rest above ground in a vault. I still vividly remember the funeral director specify that we needed a “lead in cedar casket”, and he carefully explained how the lead lined coffin needed to be hermetically sealed. A 10 year old never forgets something like that!
A few years later we noticed that a brown stain had formed at the base of the coffin, and the wood had started to crack. It became necessary to buy a new one. When the funeral directors moved the coffin, it disintegrated before our very eyes, revealing the skeletal remains of my beautiful precious grandfather ... He deserved better than this!
We were the victims of fraud by a funeral director that is still in operation today.
When my uncle died I took over the planning of his funeral, and this was the most harrowing experience of my life. The priest came to visit our home the day after his death as we started to plan the funeral. Rather than bring a sense of compassion and healing, he ripped the family apart and insisted that my uncle’s best friend, a fellow parishioner, should not deliver a eulogy because he would get “too emotional”, and that he didn’t want anything to go beyond 3 minutes. My uncle was an avid photographer and didn’t allow a slide show in the church to honour him.
My mother had just lost her brother, and the family was in trauma having to tell the best friend that he couldn’t deliver a eulogy, and speeches being prepared with stop watches, while I used clandestine means to pull off a slide show in the church. I had some colourful words and voiced that I just wanted to be treated with the dignity and respect of a customer. I would be lying if I did not say that I had an emotional breakdown as a result, and sat in the back row of the church, and fled before it ended and missed the burial and wake, as I had to be totally alone for days and try and recover.
When my own father was nearing death, I once again became traumatised in fear of having to go through this all over again with the same priest and identical circumstances. I told the family that I loved them all and adored my father, but out of self-preservation I could not participate in his funeral. When the day finally came, my family allowed me to choose another church (where mum and dad were married) and I hired a lovely priest, who respected us as valued clients... It was lovely!
On another occasion, I was supporting someone whose husband had just taken his life, and I called a priest to administer the last rights and comfort the family. The priest stood over the body and refused to bless it, and with that I politely “pushed the priest aside” and spontaneously offered my own prayers over the deceased, and took command of the spiritual needs of the family.
I never want anyone to suffer such trauma at our most desperate moments.
I am a volunteer firefighter and whenever I am called out, I put my life on the line to protect my community. It is this dedication and commitment to protect others that I bring to my vocation as a funeral celebrant with Picaluna.
I hold a Bachelor of Education, Master of Communication Management, and a candidate for the Juris Doctor law degree. I am a very safe pair of hands to craft your funeral service and promise that I will “breaks all the rules” so that it is not just another forgettable zoned out funeral that conforms to what those in power want; but become the defining event that captures the raw spirit of your precious one and will be remembered forever, for all the right reasons.
I want to save you money and have the most cost effective ceremony that is authentic ... be it from your backyard, to a national park, or even inside a fire station where she gave her best years ... and if it is a traditional church funeral you require, I have many years preparing ceremonies that conform to the requirements of the Catholic Church... but am always in your corner and ready to defend what you need.
I look forward to help create the masterpiece that authentically celebrates the beautiful spirit of your loved one, and assure you of the peace of mind that only comes with the loving support and compassion of the Picaluna tribe of celebrants and directors... and then down the track if I’ve done my job well, you will want me to marry your family and friends as an Authorised Marriage Celebrant, and conduct all the ceremonies that celebrate this beautiful circle of life. With light and love xo