Would you like to find a funeral celebrant but are not sure what your options are?
I’m here to explain how it works and how you don’t need to follow the crowd.
Since time immemorial, funerals used to be considered the exclusive domain of the clergy. Of course, the services tended to be very prescriptive and not personalised which gradually has led to the spectacular rise in popularity of the funeral celebrant; this is usually a secular person who is not linked to a specific faith. Because of this, he or she is able to create a completely unique made-to-measure service; literally, anything goes.
Whomever you choose to lead the ceremony, it’s vital to realise that this choice will shape your memory of the farewell service forever, making it super important to get it right. There won’t be a second chance!
The growing number of funeral celebrants is quite impressive. Many celebrants have been officiating for years and some have made the transfer to training. As a result, your choice of funeral celebrant has grown exponentially. The pandemic has had such a crazy effect on the job market that many folk in the entertainment business, such as DJs and Master of Ceremonies have diverted their skills to celebrancy, which has resulted in even more of a diverse and eclectic choice.
I decided to train as a funeral celebrant having attended a number of disappointing funeral services which left me underwhelmed and dissatisfied. I wanted to become involved and create perfect farewells, shaped of course, by the wishes of the family.
The first recorded celebrant led funeral was held near Perth, Australia in the 1970’s. When my father died around that time, a clergy led service with hymns and readings was the only funeral offered to me but that was in the UK.
Being a Celebrant is much more than simply standing up in front of a chapel and chatting to the mourners, although the ability to ‘captivate’ an audience is vital if you don’t want to be boring! A good celebrant is able to characterise the life of the deceased and its rewarding to know that the mourners leave the farewell ceremony having learned more about the deceased in death than they did in life.
A really good Celebrant needs to be able to enhance the eulogy and service with speech, poems and music. It isn’t about creating a story that is simply a biological or chronological account of the life of the deceased, but one that ‘praises’ their achievements and accomplishments and paints a rounded portrait of them using some or all of these means.
If you decide to hold a memorial service in another venue rather than a crematorium or church, the sky is the limit. Photos, slideshows and all sorts of opportunities present themselves. You could choose a back garden for example, or should I be your celebrant, Chichester Yacht Club is an amazing setting on the harbour and gives the most glorious and peaceful backdrop to any service, not to mention the brilliant catering facilities!
So it seems a Celebrant needs to be multi-talented, engaging, with an ability to captivate both in words and in writing. The role of the Celebrant is a ‘calling’ and not for everybody; it is however, an amazing profession.
Families are able to provide their own Celebrants and you don’t have to accept someone recommended by the Funeral Director unless you want to. So don’t follow the crowd – look on the internet and search for someone who hits the right note for you; maybe contact several and then you can choose the perfect celebrant yourself for your unique and memorable ceremony without relying on someone else’s choice.