Anyone for a funeral?

Mar 15, 2013

I have just done something that I suppose most of you have not wanted to do or ever done before.

Although a layman, but celebrant-trained, I recently conducted my first funeral. There! Not everyone can make such a claim!

From a celebrant point of view, the whole affair took about a week.

The family visit

Having been called by the Funeral Directors with the relevant details, I rang the next-of-kin and arranged an appointment the next day. While there, I spent about three quarters of an hour with the family. Although we talked about the arrangements they wanted for the day, the most important thing for me was to ask about, and gain a picture of, the deceased.

My ‘homework’

After my visit, I started to plan the order of service according to what the family had requested. In this case, apart from a hymn, the whole service was to be secular, and there would be a child reading a piece (which I chose for him). It was a matter of finding appropriate readings (I also found a poem that seemed tailor-made for this particular funeral) from the internet and my own resources.

The other thing to do was to write a eulogy, to last around 5 minutes.

Having done all this, I e-mailed the entire draft to the family. They came back, with a couple of corrections and a suggestion. These were incorporated, and that was, mostly, that until the funeral itself.

The funeral service

Despite a big bout of nerves beforehand, I am relieved to say that it appeared to go smoothly and satisfactorily for all concerned.

I am now looking forward to my next funeral next week. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to offer the family exactly what they want at such a difficult time.


Michael Gordon is a celebrant based in London.