What Role Does a Funeral Celebrant Play?

From a traditional point-of-view, funerals usually have an individual who is responsible for officiating the ceremony - the person leads the assembled friends and family members in a season of remembrance and grief. Often, the officiant is someone the family knows and trusts, most typically a minister or pastor from the family's home church. What happens, though, when the surviving family members do not have a church affiliation, and thus do not have a clear idea of who the funeral officiant might be?

In these instances, one option is to inquire at the funeral home about a funeral celebrant. A celebrant is someone the funeral home enlists to fill that important role of officiant; the celebrant can effectively serve as your family's pastor or spiritual guide, or as simple as someone to keep the funeral service moving ahead smoothly.

In most cases, the celebrant will be willing to arrive at the home of the mourners and get to know them for a while; to develop a connection through this season of bereavement. The celebrant will ask for memories and reflections on the deceased, and piece together the story of that person’s life - allowing the funeral service itself to be personalized and intimate.

Ultimately, that may be what most people are really looking for in an officiant - someone who can speak warmly and specifically about the deceased and his or her legacy. A celebrant can provide this service, and offer stability throughout the funeral. The celebrant’s job is not to take the place of a minister or Rabbi, of course, but rather to fill that role for those who may not have a trusted religious figure or spiritual advisor to lean on.

To learn more about enlisting the services of a celebrant or seeing who is available in your area, email or call Buffy Johnston.