A Celebrants Role Described
Celebrant led funerals provide families with a variety of choices including different venues and service types such as burials, cremations and direct cremations however, the services tend to have similar protocol and deliveries. Towards the end of a cremation service the celebrant will prepare to say farewell before then delivering the committal however, when the service is a burial the celebrant will direct the congregation from the chapel where the main service has taken place to travel to the burial locations where the closing words and committal will take place at the graveside.
It is common place for the Celebrant to be appointed by the Funeral Director however families really can make that choice themselves and appoint any celebrant that they choose for the service. The Celebrant will contact the family to arrange to visit to learn about the life of the deceased so that the celebrant may create their draft service for the family to review, make changes to and approve. All crematoriums work to a specific timing which varies, some may allow 30 minutes, others will allow 40 mins. The Celebrant will generally work to a 20 minute delivery so, if the family wish to create a fuller service they would need to ask for a double slot which will of course impact of the price.
On the day of the service the chapel or crematorium will have been advised in advance of the music choices and they will also know whether (in the case of cremation) the ashes will be collected or taken to the garden of remembrance.
Celebrants are very tuned in to the importance of the service, they really want to do the best for each family so they are generally at the service locations well before the appointed time.
The Celebrant will check the music is correct and speak to the staff.
The Start of the Service
Sometimes the family arrive with the hearse but they may arrive separately, usually 10 to 15 minutes before the allocated time. Crematoriums have a waiting room while chapels expect mourners to be pre-seated to receive the family. Of course if the weather is pleasant at a crematorium venue then the mourners may wish to pay their respects as the hearse arrives.
The Celebrant will be nearby standing in wait for the hearse and the family and, if there is an indication that the family wish to speak, then the Celebrant will talk with the family to re-assure and be supportive in general.
The hearse will stop short a little way before the entrance to the crematorium or chapel, the Funeral Director will step out and lead the hearse as a mark of respect for the deceased. This is a very emotional aspect of the service especially if the family have travelled independently and haven't yet seen the coffin
The Celebrant is still on standby at this stage as the Funeral Director and the hearse pulls up. The pall-bearers open the back door and any family pall bearers are invited to join the bearers. At this point the staff (if at a crematorium) will check the name plate on the coffin against their records. The Funeral Director will also check the music and will make sure the orders of service have been placed in the chapel along with any collection box, photographs and any other visual tributes.
As the entrance music begins the pallbearers will take the coffin out of the hearse and make their way into the chapel. Dependent upon the type of venue /service the Celebrant may well lead the way in with along with the Funeral Director followed on by the coffin, the chief mourners and then the other mourners who will be assisted to their seats behind the family. The Funeral Director along with the Celebrant will bow to the coffin which signifies that the Celebrant is then responsible for the service. As the entry music fades the Celebrant will begin the service.
The Celebrants Service
The Celebrant welcomes the family and the mourners before going on to talk about the life of the deceased. They will touch on and acknowledge the family grief, the sadness and may recite a Prayer, Poem or Reading or, where members of the family have asked to contribute the Celebrant will invite those contributing up to deliver their input while the Celebrant remains on hand in case they are required.
The Eulogy or tribute follows the welcome and acknowledgement of the loss and will include the various readings referred to above. Many families like to reflect to a piece of music of their choice, this time is taken to be silent; some mourners may choose to pray silently during the music. The committal that follows the reflection (in the case of a cremation directly afterwards, if burial once they are at the burial site) is an important part of the Celebrant service, it is the point where the final farewell takes place, where families prepare to say goodbye. After the committal the Celebrant will begin to bring the service to a close, to invite people to join the family after the service and to ask mourners to allow the family to pass through before they attempt to leave the chapel. The exit music will begin and the Celebrant will bow to the coffin before then exiting, the Celebrant will remain prominent enough to quietly speak with the family and any guests as they leave.
The Funeral Director will know that he or she is now responsible for the proceedings and will lead the mourners away to the appropriate area. The Funeral Staff bring any flower out to the garden if at a crematorium and will hand the money from the collection to the chief mourner.