What Does a Funeral Director Look for in a Celebrant?

As a Funeral Director who has been serving and supporting families for many years, funerals and celebrations of life are more than my job, they are my life.

A funeral requires many people working together to make it meaningful and memorable to support each family, achieving a lasting memory of a fitting ceremony.  Each ceremony celebrates a life and says goodbye in a way in which is appropriate to loved ones and the person who has died. 

I regularly get calls and emails from celebrants who are new to the business, sometimes several per week.  Taking on a new celebrant can be a big risk, as the families we support only get one chance to say goodbye, it has to be right.

What a Funeral Director looks for in a Funeral Celebrant

What I am looking for in a Funeral Celebrant is someone I know is going to fit within our operation, and the families we work with.  Entrusting them with the task of writing and leading a fitting funeral is a huge responsibility.

Whomever I choose to lead that ceremony is, on the day, probably the most prominent person there and although independent, they also are a representative of my business. They are the individual the family and friends will see and hear and will remember.  They need to have the same care, compassion, and dedication that we as offer to our clients. Flexibility, listen to the client’s needs, an understanding of those needs, being led by the family and friends of the person who has died, offering guidance, support and compassion are essential.

We provide a service to people from all walks of life, and all Funeral Celebrant’s we work with need to be able to form a connection with all kinds of people. Funerals are emotional and families are grieving, a Funeral Celebrant needs to be able to handle any situation which will arise as a result of the death of their loved one.

I look for celebrants who will give a truly personal funeral ceremony, regardless of the situation or timeframe. I have sadly had experience of celebrant’s who have claimed to lead up to five ceremonies per day. This is a concern as it is important every family receives the time, support, and personal service they deserve. Resulting in a life centred ceremony of goodbye and celebration. Impersonal, templated, name change funeral ceremonies have no place within my business. They may serve a purpose, but they aren’t meaningful.  It is my policy to carry out no more than two funerals on the same day, ensuring I give each family the time they deserve.

It is Key to Interpret The Needs of The Family

Ceremonies must be unique and not regurgitated from a previous script with changes to details.  It is key to interpret the needs of the family, helping them achieve what they want, and on the day of the funeral they need to deliver exactly what the client wanted, including every aspect that was important to them. 

They need to capture the person as though they knew them personally and tell their story, celebrate their life, creating the atmosphere and bringing both tears and laughter. If a family request a certain dress code or theme, this should be embraced by the celebrant. A funeral that will stay in everyone’s memory.

What Does A Funeral Director Look For In A Celebrant

Trained Well With a Wealth of Knowledge

I feel it is important that celebrants I work with are trained and trained well with a wealth of knowledge and have done their research about all aspects of funerals, death, and rituals according to different religions, spiritual beliefs, and cultures, they need to be open to all of these and put their own views aside. 

Funeral Celebrants need to be diverse and accommodate a family’s needs where possible.   It isn’t always crematoriums and graveyards, so they need to be flexible.  They also must be able to handle pressure, strong emotion and remain calm and in control and not let their own emotions take over at what can often be a highly emotional time.

We work as part of a team which includes the crematorium, burial ground, or graveyard staff. All Funeral Celebrants need to be team players. Planning each Order of Service, ordering music if required and being another person to take any logistical stresses away from each family is part of the role of a Funeral Celebrant.

As an independent Funeral Director, I look for and work only with Funeral Celebrants who can actively do all these things. After all, I can not stress enough we all work together as a team, supporting each other. It is hard work so essential we all have the same ethos to be able to do our individual jobs as part of the team. Ensuring we serve and support families.

Guest blog by Rod Major
Owner of Wells Funeral Services

Image 1 Nicky Sutton
Image 2 Louisa Starr- StarrGazing Ceremonies