Funeral Celebrant Cornwall

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Melanie Richardson

FAQs – The Funeral Ceremony

Planning a funeral ceremony can be less daunting when you already have information to hand. 

Helpful information: The funeral ceremony

Families can feel awkward asking what they feel are obvious questions, but the reality is most of us are only likely to organise a funeral once or twice in our lives. Here are responses to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is a funeral celebrant?

A celebrant is someone who officiates (or leads) the funeral ceremony. A religious ceremony in a church would be led by a minister or ordained priest, but non-religious ceremonies can be held almost anywhere, and be led by anyone.

Why use a celebrant – can’t I lead the funeral ceremony?

Yes, you could. However, a celebrant is trained and experienced in writing and leading ceremonies, with all the attention to detail you would expect from a professional. Funerals are emotionally charged days and family members usually have enough to deal with without being responsible for the ceremony itself. A celebrant offers a calm and reassuring presence on the day.

Does that mean I can’t say anything?

Of course you can! I always encourage family members – should they wish – to deliver their own tributes on the day. This can be anything from a few words to a complete eulogy and I will write the funeral ceremony around those tributes. I am also happy to deliver tributes on a family member’s behalf, should they feel unable to speak on the day.

What about music?

It’s lovely to include music within a ceremony and you can have whatever you like – see my blog on this subject.

We are not into poems – do we have to have these at the funeral ceremony?

Not at all. However, I have collated a substantial library of readings and excerpts from literature that you can choose from, should you wish. I will make some suggestions and there is usually something that strikes the right chord with families, saying just what they want to verbalise on the day.

Is it essential to have the curtains closed at the crematorium?

This is entirely optional. Some families have a dread of the curtains ‘hiding’ the coffin from view, whilst others find it hard to walk away if the curtains remain open, leaving the coffin in sight. Many families opt for a compromise – closing the curtains with the exit music.

Does the coffin move in the funeral ceremony?

No. Once the bearers have placed the coffin on the catafalque, it remains in place until the funeral ceremony is over and the family has left the chapel. Flowers or other mementos on the coffin can be retrieved after the ceremony by the funeral director and returned to the family.

Can we have a photo placed on the coffin?

Yes, this is something the funeral director can organise. You can also opt for a ‘visual tribute’ – a photo slideshow displayed on the large TV screen in the chapel, often set to a piece of music. There is usually an additional charge for this from the media company, so talk to your funeral director and they will outline any costs.

What is an order of service?

This is a printed A5 booklet that traditionally has a photo on the front, and contains the running order of the ceremony. It is entirely optional, although if you have decided to have hymns that you would like people to join in with, it’s somewhat necessary. I always ensure that the words to any readings within the ceremony are also printed, making the order of service more of a keepsake.

How does the webcast work?

Advances in technology mean that the funeral ceremony can be streamed live from the crematorium and you can also opt to have the video available for download for up to 28 days after. It enables those too elderly to travel, or those overseas to feel involved, and is a lifeline for family and friends who cannot attend. You will be emailed a link that you forward onto anyone who would like to participate. There will be a fee for this from the crematorium, so discuss this with your funeral director.

Will you do the interment ceremony as well?

Yes, I am often asked to lead at interments or scattering of ashes, whether at a cemetery or off the back of a boat out in Plymouth Harbour! Some families opt for a modest funeral and a bigger memorial event some months afterwards, when more family and friends can join together.