Connect to the information you need in order to make end-of-life choices.
Choosing an officiant or person who conducts the funeral service is the first step in planning a funeral, memorial, or celebration of a person’s life. If you are unsure of whom to choose, you may want to consider a certified funeral celebrant.
What is a funeral celebrant?
A celebrant is an officiant of sorts who specializes in the creation of personalized funeral ceremonies. They infuse public speaking, event planning and details about the deceased into a memorial service designed to reflect the personality of the family.
Acting a bit like a curator sifting through and piecing together snippets of information shared, a celebrant stitches together stories and anecdotes to create a unique ceremony that honors the deceased. The family participates at every level, choosing music to be played, songs to be sung, and poems to be read to create the memorial service. Nothing is canned or preconceived.
How is a celebrant ceremony different?
The most significant difference may be that a celebrant funeral is a collaborative effort between the celebrant AND the family. Celebrants will spend time with the deceased’s family and friends learning about his or her life, personal pursuits, hobbies and other passions. From those shared stories and memories, the celebrant will craft a personalized eulogy and create a ceremony using music, readings or other customized elements or keepsakes. Once completed, the ceremony is shared with the family for their input and to ensure accuracy. Nothing is created or spoken without the family’s approval.
Another substantial difference is that celebrants do not impose a prescribed faith-based agenda unless it is requested. Instead, the goal of a funeral celebrant is to tailor to the beliefs, values, and desires of a deceased individual and his or her immediate family members. Therefore, funerals conducted by celebrants often take place at venues other that places of worship. The service may take place as a moonlit boat ride, a sunrise fishing trip, a campfire gathering, kite flying in the park or a backyard barbeque. Whatever best reflects the person who has died.
Religious and Mixed Faith Services
Funeral celebrants frequently serve families that prefer a non-religious funeral ceremony; however, you can certainly infuse some religious elements into a funeral with a celebrant if you so choose.
The celebrant service can be performed in conjunction with or following the vigil service at the funeral home, prior to leaving for church or synagogue services, at the crematory or cemetery following committal rites even at the family repast.
For families that are of mixed faith, a funeral celebrant may be the answer to blend elements of each religion into a customized service. A funeral celebrant can also collaborate with religious officiants to create and perform the ceremony. Such a collaboration can blend faith-based rituals with creative, personalized content. This approach can even provide some balance when choosing whether or not to include religion in the ceremony.
Whatever the case, know that there are options. Life is comprised of a series of choices. Those choices should be remembered and honored in a way that is personal.
How to Find a Funeral Celebrant
A funeral director will be your best resource. Start by asking if there is anyone at the funeral home that is a certified celebrant or if there is someone they can recommend. Ask to speak with other families that have used a celebrant to discuss the experience and process. Interview several celebrants to find one that you are comfortable with.
There are also online resources that can help:
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Our Funeral Matters professionals can help you every step of the way by explaining different options, providing guidance and advice to help you through this difficult process.