Preparing for a funeral: the usual process


Interviewing the family and or the survivors

The essential information needed neede by the celebrant is mainly gained in an unhurried interview with the family.
Most often a group of family members and friends sit around the kitchen or dining room table and simply talk about the person who has died. The celebrant takes notes which she uses to tell the story of the person's life. This sometimes takes several hours. After this the other elements of the funeral are usually decided by email, text message or telephone dialogue. Depending on the time, place and dialogue sometimes it is necessary for a planning meeting, a briefing, or even a rehearsal.

The Main Eulogy and the reminiscences i.e story telling.

The Celebrant (or designated person) must then go about the creative writing of the eulogy.
We recommend the eulogy be carefully written in two parts.The first part should be an interestingly presented chronology of the person life - to put it on the record for future generations. The second part is a description of the person's personaliuty, ideals, causes and achievements. Even with a great deal of preparation, no ceremony is delivered by our graduates or experienced colleagues, unless every detail of the eulogy is carefully checked with the family to ensure that it is accurate.


This main eulogy is often enhanced by reminiscences by family and friends. For obvious reasons it is necessary that the eulogy and the reminiscences are very well prepared, written out and timed. Speaking "ex corde" in an untimed and unrestricted way is a total no-no for obvious reasons.(As a guideline, the celebrant eulogy could be 15 to 20 minutes. Reminiscences which follow could be 3 to 5 minutes.)
(The commital at the end of the ceremony can also be a story telling summary.)

Readings: poetry and prose quotations from literature

Poems, for example, which amplify the qualities of the person, or which were favourites of the person, read with feeling, elevate the ceremony to a wonderful level. The also give an opportunity for those who were close to the deceased a very meaningful way to participate in the tribute. Readers should be trained or at least strongly briefed on how to use a microphone, on how to pronounce the words, and how to read at a proper pace.

Music and song in the funeral ceremony

To many people nothing is more important than the songs that the deceased loved or that the family have judged expresses some aspect of the personality or how everyone feels. If equipment is not available at the venue the celebrant should provide a system which can play music at the right quality and volume. The celebrant is entitled to invoice the family for this. The music is usually planned withy the cooperation with the funeral director.

Choreography and movement, arranging the place

The details of the placement of the coffin, the arrangement of seating, reserved seating for close family, standing for the processional in wit the coffin, standing for the committal

Symbolism in the funeral tribute

Symbols can very meaningful and moving - photos on display or on the coffin, university degrees, football jumpers, tools of trade, inventions, vestments or uniforms. There are other kinds of symbolism e.g. in a funeral for a librarian the funeral recessional proceeded to the library where she worked and stopped for a minute's silence before proceeding to the crematorium.

Photos and Slide presentations

Photos. This can sometimes be challenging depending on the equipment at the venue, the funeral parlour chapel, or the crematorium. In every family there usually is a person with technical expertise who can do this task. If the celebrant has the ability to do it, it will add to your hourly rate.

Participation of family and friends: singing: responsorials: reminiscences: readings

Participation in singing, in a responsorial poem or similar can involve anyone. When singing together the words must be provided in the Order of Service, the should be singers rehearsed and briefed to lead everyone, it should be sung in a key which is accessible to most people, and the accompanying music (organ, guitar, etc) should be competent (live or recorded).

Readers should be rehearsed - especially as to pace. Reminiscences should be written out in full and timed.

The funeral takes place.

Then, with compassion, sincerity and care (the normal result of such careful preparation), the celebrant and her "team" officiate at the funeral ceremony, usually at the home, hall, special place, funeral parlour, crematorium or cemetery.

Civil celebrants have a secular starting point

The starting point for all celebrant funerals is secular, i.e. non-religious. The more important principle is that the words said express, record for posterity, and honour the life of the person who has died. The ceremony tells the life story, marks the achievements, and praises the ideals and ambitions of the life of the individual we have lost.

Most celebrant Funerals are secular and non-religious but, if the client requests it, it is quite common for celebrant funerals to contain times of silence, the Lord's Prayer, the 23rd Psalm and similar, if, and only if, the family of the person who has died specifically requests it.

Usually, in cooperation with the funeral director, they plan selections of music which have been specially chosen by the family.

Note on an Order of Service for a funeral.

I have observed that most professional celebrants can prepare an Order of Service. This illustrates the fairness of an hourly rate because to plan, approve, and have printed an Order of Service can be very time consuming.

Legal position on fees: Lawyer Moira Rayner in pdf

(No obligation Information and feedback - Christine - +61 417 377 871 - -)

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