One of a kind ceremonies

Your celebrant-led funeral ceremony.  Know your choices!

Celebrant Information

Deciding what choices to make for a celebrant-led funeral ceremony can be a daunting experience. You may be planning a ceremony for one of your family members or a friend when the time comes. Perhaps you’re thinking about planning your own funeral ceremony in advance,

You might only organise a small number of funerals in your lifetime so understanding the choices available to you is important.  After a death occurs, when you are experiencing difficult emotions, you may not have the head space to deal with the planning that needs to be undertaken. Instead, you might opt for what you think is ‘right’ even if this results in a ceremony that doesn’t quite turn out the way you’d hoped.  

This is, understandably, something many of us don’t like to think about, and certainly don’t want to plan in advance.

However, when the time does come, there are options open to you that it would be helpful to know beforehand.  This could help you feel, afterwards, that you were able to make the right decisions for your loved-one.

Religious funeral ceremonies

The main elements of religious ceremonies will be laid down by the religious organisation.  Those rights and rituals have usually been in place for millennia. You will know what to expect guided by the church elders or clergy.  In our multicultural society, there are many types of funeral ceremony offered depending on your cultural and religious background. Following those norms can be incredibly healing and meaningful for everyone involved.  Most religious ceremonies will also move to finish at the cemetery or crematorium after the main ceremony.

However, if you don’t have a religious background, or would like something ‘other’ than what is offered here, there are lots of choices available to you for the ceremony itself.

Crematorium and Cemetery services

These are by far the types of ceremony followed by most people who fall into this category. 

Usually, with the help of a Funeral Director and planner, you will make choices on the content and style of the ceremony you want.  The Funeral Director may have a preferred celebrant/s that they will recommend to you. You can also do your own research, ask for recommendations, or look online to find a celebrant that you think would suit you better.  They can then be contacted directly.  The crematorium will have a set amount of time allocated for the ceremony – usually 25-40 minutes. A single or double slot can be booked depending on your requirements.  The body will go through the cremation process soon after the ceremony, or be taken for burial. 

This is very much the ‘usual’ route.  The family, with their friends around them, may also go to a reception point afterwards for refreshments. Here, they will spend time with each other reminiscing about the person they have lost.

The term ‘wake’ is used to describe this gathering of friends and family to pay their respects to their loved one.  This, traditionally, referred to the time between the death and burial when mourners would hold a vigil with the body. Nowadays, this term has come to be used for the reception held after the ceremony.

Direct Cremation

Just as it says, the body of your loved one is taken to the crematorium by the Funeral Director directly after death. No service is held.  No family or friends are present.  Recently, direct cremations have been widely advertised as a very cost-effective way to organise your loved-one’s final journey.  TJey do cost less than a more regular funeral.  However, there are implications here to think about!  For many, the funeral isn’t just about making provision for the body of the deceased. It’s also a way for friends and family to gather to say their goodbyes.  It’s a tangible, open ceremony where people come together, where words of comfort are spoken, giving everyone a sense of ‘closure’. They can rest in the knowledge that everything has been done to say goodbye in a way that supports everyone involved. 

With a direct cremation, however, a whole section of that funeral rite is taken away – usually for financial reasons. This can leave a chasm in the lives of those left behind – a sense of the journey being ‘unfinished’.  This could also lead to distress further down the line during the grieving process.

Your choices for a celebrant-led funeral ceremony

There are other choices that can be made when it comes to organising a funeral for a loved one. These may not be undertaken as often as those choices discussed before, but they are, nonetheless, options available to families.  They are becoming more popular as expectations change and families begin to understand the choices available to them.

Remembrance ceremonies or Celebrations of Life

The name you choose to describe your chosen ceremony very much depends on how you feel about the nature of your loved-one’s passing.  For some, it’s an incredibly difficult, sad occasion and, for them, the word ‘celebration’ just doesn’t fit.  However, for others, they are in a space where they are ready to celebrate that life. They want the ceremony to reflect that choice.

Also, funerals do not have to take place in a church or crematorium. You may want to organise something different.  Many spaces such as hotels, clubs, civic rooms, community centres and other buildings, are happy to accept the coffin and allow the celebrant-led funeral ceremony to take place there.  This means that you can spend more time together during the ceremony without the ‘rush’ of the 25-40 minute ceremony time ‘norm’.  The ceremony can then take whichever form you wish. Options might include having more speeches, eulogies, visual tributes, family involvement and music. 

Some of these facilities may also be able to accommodate more mourners than the local crematorium can easily manage.  This is definitely something to consider.  The wake/reception afterwards may also be held in the same venue. This means there will be no travelling between locations for the mourners.

Memorial ceremonies

If a small funeral ceremony, or a direct cremation, has taken place, then your chosen celebrant will help you plan a memorial ceremony at a time and a place to suit you and your family after that event.  You may want that to happen at a favourite place of the deceased, or even at home. Whatever choice you make, your celebrant will help and advise you along the way.  This choice allows as many people as possible to attend the ceremony to pay their respects to the family.  There is no need for the ceremony to happen directly after the cremation. This can take place at a time in the future which is convenient for as many family and friends to attend as possible. 

With this choice, the issue for some is that the body is not present at the event. This can happen for many reasons, however, not just because of a direct cremation or small initial ceremony, so this may be a choice that suits your circumstances. For many people, this type of ceremony allows them time to think about, plan and organise the farewell they really want to have.

Eco Burial

Here, no embalming fluids or toxic chemicals are used and graves may be dug by hand (in some instances).  Caskets are also made of biodegradable material.  Woodland burial sites can be found locally. These allow you to follow your wishes and bury your loved one in a more ‘eco-friendly’ manner. 

There are other types of eco-funeral to choose from. These include sea burials and recompositions amongst others. It is worth researching your local area to find out more detail of the choices available to you. Then you can make the decision that is right for you and your loved one.  There is also the option to donate your body to medical science if you wish. Leave word in your will or with your family members if this is something you would like to happen after your passing.

Living funerals

This is a ceremony which can help those living with terminal illnesses or life-limiting conditions, take control of their story, and their journey towards death, in a way that helps them, and their families, celebrate their life in a really positive way.

Taking control of their own journey – and organising a time when friends and family can gather in their name to spend time with them and show them how much they are loved before their passing, can be an incredibly positive, life-affirming, fulfilling experience.  Your celebrant will guide you through the process, supporting your decisions, and creating the ceremony you want to have.

Prepare your own eulogy! 

This is one of those very difficult tasks that falls to families and friends at a time when they are grieving and when they may find it overwhelming to talk about their loved one.  A full life can span so many years and scenarios – not all of them known to those left behind! 

There are many people who offer a eulogy writing service – not only to those organising a funeral, but for those who want to begin putting their own affairs in order – and their story too – in order to give their families and friends less to worry about and manage when the time comes. 

If this is something you would like to find out more about, then contact me to talk over your wishes.  I will write a eulogy ready for a funeral ceremony to take place, or I can write your own eulogy which you can then add to your paperwork for your loved ones to access on your death.  You will be helping them to create the perfect send off for you.

Susan McGregor Celebrant - celebrant-led funeral ceremonies

A celebrant-led funeral ceremony gives you choice

You have choices!  Making decisions about what you would like for your own celebrant-led funeral ceremony, or for your loved-one’s final journey, can be done with support from those who will guide you through the maze.

Many Funeral Directors and planners, with many years in the industry, will provide a wonderful service for you and your loved one.  As your celebrant, you can book me through your chosen Funeral Director, or directly if you would like to discuss further options.  Find my contact details here.

Contact me to talk over your wishes and we can begin to put plans in place.  Whether the funeral ceremony for your loved-one is next week, or for you at a future date as yet unknown, I can help guide you in the choices you have available to you.

Don’t leave these arrangements to chance.  Planning in advance can make all the difference.  Make sure you have a ceremony to remember with love and with gratitude for a life well-lived.

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