Who can conduct a funeral service?
One of the key decisions families make when arranging a funeral is who to conduct the service itself. People who would like a religious element to the service may ask their local minister or they might approach us for a suggestion of somebody we know. Alternatively, there are celebrants locally (civil and humanist) who are used to leading a variety of services – from weddings to funerals.
That said and it’s not necessarily widely known – anyone can conduct a funeral service. As ever, the choice is down to the family and whatever suits their loved one.
It might be that you feel you can conduct the service yourself or you have a friend or family member who can do it. The key thing to remember is that, on the day, you might feel more overwhelmed than you imagined you might and, while saying a few words might be okay, conducting the entire service might feel too much.
However, if there is someone you know who feels comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, then it might well make the whole service much more personal. Alternatively, you could split the role of celebrant between several family members – but this could take a fair amount of organisation.
Many of the funerals we organise at Tester & Jones still involve a religious leader of some sort and we have good relationships with many ministers locally. We find that even if the person who has died and their family aren’t regular churchgoers, there is something comforting in having a religious aspect to the service.
For most religions there is a set order of service for funerals or certain prayers and readings that are traditionally included. As we said in a recent blog, people often find that following traditional rituals at this time can be helpful.
Whether the minister knew the family or not, they are likely to visit for a chat about the service. If they are expected to read the eulogy, then they will want to find out which elements of that person’s life the family would like included. There will always be stories and snippets from somebody’s life that the minister and people outside the immediate circle won’t know about. We’ve often heard people remark after a funeral service that they found out things about the person they didn’t know before.
Most religious leaders will also offer ongoing support following the funeral as well or certainly make themselves available for a chat if needed.
There are also celebrants who are experienced in conducting a funeral service and these can either be civil celebrants or humanist celebrants.
Civil celebrants are not part of any religion or belief system and can perform services with no religious content at all, or with some religious content such as prayers and readings.
Humanist funerals represent a completely non-religious service, so will not make reference to any religious ideas. A funeral conducted by a humanist celebrant will focus on the individual’s life and celebrating the life that has been lived.
Both types of celebrants will meet with the family to talk about their loved one and any wishes they have for the service and will be open to personalising the service to reflect your loved one’s character.
The choice of who to conduct a funeral service is a completely personal choice and we will be there to advise and support you.
Posted: 3rd of May 2019