The process of choosing a funeral celebrant when you’re already grieving can undoubtedly be a stressful task. Here at Willed, we’ve compiled this helpful guide so that when the time comes, friends and family can be prepared. Let’s begin:
Generally speaking, there are two different kinds of funeral celebrants.
- Conduct funerals according to the laws of an observed religion.
- These laws or customs may include prayers, hymns, order of the service and more.
- Typically conduct services in places of worship.
- Conduct non-religious, semi-religious and spiritual funeral services.
- Can usually conduct services in a range of venues.
- Typically, civil celebrants offer more flexible services. For example, if you would like to customise the service in a way that pays tribute to your loved one (or you are pre-planning your own funeral), you may opt for a civil celebrant. This way, the service can take place in any order, and there is more freedom to make it your own.
Some funeral celebrants can officiate weddings, too. Just as religious leaders often officiate births, weddings and deaths, civil celebrants sometimes fall into this category as well.
If you’re pre-planning your own funeral
If you are pre-planning your own funeral, you’re in a very unique position. If you’d like to, you can meet with funeral celebrants to discuss your funeral preferences. Alternatively, you could leave instructions in your Will for your family, for when the time comes. Another option is to plan your funeral using the Funeral Wishes journey available in your Willed account.
If you’re choosing a funeral celebrant for a loved one
You may already know a funeral celebrant.
If you belong to a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a temple or another religious or spiritual entity, you may already know a religious leader who conducts funeral services.
They will likely sit down with you a few days before (or the day before) the service to talk about the person who has died and to research any information that might be fitting for the ceremony, like a poem or a song that the deceased liked. They will also likely confirm the names of family members and fact-check their speech or eulogy to ensure that everything is correct.
Ask your funeral director, friends or family for recommendations.
Word of mouth and recommendations from friends or acquaintances is a good place to start. Funeral directors are usually able to refer funeral celebrants to families, as they have often formed relationships with celebrants who they can recommend.
Alternatively, if you feel comfortable, you could ask friends and family about funeral celebrants they have chosen in the past who they liked (or wedding celebrants, as we discussed above). In the case of wedding celebrants, you can check online if they conduct funerals. Often, they do.
Choose a funeral celebrant who you trust.
When choosing a funeral celebrant, it’s best to choose a person who you and your family trust, and who you feel at ease with. Your funeral celebrant not only captures the person you have lost in their speech or eulogy, but should also connect with you, your family, and those in attendance.
Cost can be an important factor.
In Australia, funeral celebrants typically cost between $600-$700, and this price varies between states and cities.
Sometimes, religious leaders offer services based on a ‘pay what you can’ model, but you will be informed by a funeral director about this prior to the ceremony or service.
Additionally, Australians experiencing financial hardship can apply for bereavement assistance to help with funeral expenses. (More information can be found here).
Narrow your search guide by location.
While some funeral celebrants are happy to travel, others are limited in how far they can go. However, if you find a celebrant you like online and their website only lists certain suburbs or regions, this doesn’t mean that they are unable to conduct the service. Some funeral celebrants do travel outside of their usual region depending on the circumstance, so don’t be afraid to contact them and ask.
If you can’t find your ideal celebrant in your area, you could search other suburbs for funeral celebrants who do travel. (Just be sure to check if extra travel is included in their fee, or if it comes at an additional cost).
Ultimately, the best funeral celebrants not only have a calming presence but are also warm and trustworthy. Additionally, they are able to speak about the deceased eloquently and respectfully. During this difficult time, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed with a whole range of emotions. As many of us know, grief is different for everyone – there is no one way to grieve. Know that you are never alone. Be sure to ask family and friends for help during this difficult time, and reach out to healthcare professionals if you are in need of support. Help is always available.