This week (13th to 19th May) is Dying Matters Awareness week and the theme this year is “Are we ready.”
I have performed many funerals over the years in my role as a funeral celebrant and, in my experience, most people have not discussed with the family what they would like at their funeral. This means that the decision about the service is left to the grieving family who will be guided by the local funeral directors. If you have specific ideas about “how you want to go”, why not use this awareness week as an opportunity to sit down with your family and talk about it.
Many people do not realise that there is no legal requirement to have a religious leader of the funeral service. In fact there is no need to have an outside leader at all (family and friends can conduct the entire ceremony), but for many people this would be a difficult time to take on such as responsibility, which is where a celebrant comes in.
Where will your funeral take place?
You do not have to have your ceremony at a church or crematorium either: you can have the ceremony at a village hall or even your home with the coffin taken to the crematorium at the end of the ceremony. By having your funeral service at a different location, you are not limited to a certain time slot and those attending can take their time to talk to each other and do not need to move to a different venue for the wake or after-party as I prefer to refer to it as!
This means that you can make your service more personal, with plenty of time for all the contributions from family and friends.
What does a Funeral Celebrant do?
So, what does a celebrant offer at a funeral service? As an Independent Celebrant, I can lead a funeral service that includes some religious or spiritual content: many people do not consider themselves particularly religious, but do have a favourite prayer or hymn they might like to be included. A Humanist celebrant is not able to incorporate any religious content into the service yet as an Independent Celebrant, I am able to follow and respect Humanist philosophies too.
When I work with families and friends, we talk about a ceremony that is personal and include the hobbies, interests and music of the person whose life we are celebrating. My ceremonies are about celebrating a life, so we usually try to incorporate favourite songs and can even have a sing a long.
Examples of themes at funerals that I have officiated at include a Star Wars Theme, a Countdown Game Show, a Crossword Puzzle, a Pop Master Quiz, Musical Theme, Cooking class and various other themes and reference relevant to the life of the person being celebrated.
As an Independent Celebrant, I do also perform traditional services too.
So, talk with your family about how you would like to be remembered. It will help them in the bereavement period knowing that the funeral service is what you would have wanted.