Over the past year more than any other time we have said goodbye to loved ones we have lost to the pandemic. Growing in popularity is the practice of many families not choosing the traditional religious service but something more personal that celebrates the life of their loved one with the growing use of ‘Celebrants’ that families appoint for non religious services.
We spoke to one of these Celebrants, Hylton Collins, to find out more and asked what exactly is a Celebrant ?
“It’s someone who administers the service for your loved one and the celebration of their life.”
So in the absence of a religious figure at the funeral they are acting for the family?
“Yes, so you would meet the Celebrant as soon as possible before the funeral and talk to them about your loved one in order to give a full picture of their personality, what kind of service you would like and how it should reflect the persons life.”
It sounds a good option if the person isn’t particularly religious and the family want something that is more focussed on the life of the person they have lost.
“That’s right and part of the work would be to compose a eulogy for you once they have all the information about the person who has passed on and what you might want specifically mentioned along with peoples particular memories of them. Of course you can still have a prayer in if you like. Usually tailored to the person whose life you are celebrating. It’s the skill of a good celebrant to bring all this together in a smooth and professional presentation about the life of their loved one.”
So if you have a Celebrant does that mean family members wouldn’t speak?
“Of course some people will still want to speak and that can be planned as part of the service with the Celebrant along with any particular music choices the family may request. I would obviously offer any guidance to speakers if they needed it to help the service go smoothly for everyone. Sometimes people plan to speak but emotions can sadly get the better of them and so the Celebrant themselves can then step in and save the day. “
So what is the process in engaging your services as a celebrant?
“Well I would arrange to come and meet the family although during the pandemic this may be a phone call or Zoom perhaps. I would try and get a feel of the person’s character and life from the family and see if there was anything specifically that needed to be mentioned. They can also share their personal stories and it would all go together to form the eulogy at the service. It’s all about making it a celebration of that person’s life. They may have a favourite song or poem that might enhance the service to make it completely bespoke to them. So my role would be to co-ordinate everything at the actual service on behalf of the family with the venue. This takes some of the stress away from the family.”
Is it an expensive service?
“Sometimes this can be covered in the undertaker’s expenses but on average the costs for Celebrants can vary from £150 to £250 but this covers all the initial contacts with the family, compositions, co-ordinating with the venue and of course a professional service on the day.”
Can people get in touch with you if they want to book you direct?
“Absolutely. They can contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 07753 287521”