Replace funeral with a celebration of life
Some older adults tell their families, “I don’t want a funeral; I want to have a party.” Others request no funeral or party at all. But some families feel that doing nothing isn’t quite right.
In any of these circumstances, a funeral celebrant can help create a “celebration of life” tribute ceremony that can be a beautiful, healing experience for everyone who attends.
Funeral celebrants are a relatively new phenomenon. We are trained specialists who create and officiate at personalized celebration of life ceremonies designed to honor a loved one’s life in a way that transcends the traditional funeral experience.
Funeral celebrants create and officiate a service from scratch, collaborating closely with families and loved ones to ensure that the ceremony genuinely reflects the unique qualities of the individual who has passed.
The ceremony is all about the family’s deceased loved one; however, the purpose of the ceremony is for the family to begin the healing process. The tone of the ceremony is uplifting, triumphant and comforting, not somber.
Parachute jumps, campfire services
Often celebrants are contacted by funeral homes or the families themselves to create a memorial service.
The process begins with an interview with the family, where the celebrant learns about the deceased in order to capture their essence in a ceremony.
Celebrations of life can take place in a traditional location such as a funeral home or cemetery, or a non-traditional location selected by the family. For instance, celebrants have officiated at these alternative sites:
— A family of parachuting enthusiasts requested that a small ceremony be held in a jump plane, followed by a group jump by all the family members, who then released the decedent’s ashes during the descent.
— A family made a toast with a favorite wine at a yacht club, while jazz and rock music played in the background.
— A family that loved to camp together requested that the celebrant officiate a ceremony around a campfire at night.
Religious, spiritual or neither
While celebrations can incorporate religion, prayer and spirituality of all denominations, celebrants can also respond to the needs of those who do not have a religious tradition.
A family may consider themselves to be “spiritual but not religious” or may not have a relationship with a pastor, priest or rabbi. The family may not be observant of any type of denomination, or may not have attended a church for many years.
Funerals for the living
Another service a celebrant can perform is a “Living Funeral” or “Life Celebration” service. This is a wonderful phenomenon that is gaining popularity in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, where celebrancy began.
In this event, the honoree is living and present to hear the eulogies, praises and farewells given before death. It is a gathering of family, friends, and colleagues to celebrate a person with a life-limiting illness.
Celebrants function on an on-call basis, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Most celebrants charge in the $450 to $700 range, which includes a two- to three-hour meeting with the family to get to know the decedent, a service in the funeral home chapel or elsewhere, and a graveside service if desired.
Mark Thiel certified as a celebrant following a 42-year career as a Registered Nurse. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (248) 860-6358.