Not everyone would fancy leading a wedding service. Even fewer, probably, would choose to lead a funeral.
However, I have just been off to Banbury for a day to start my training as a funeral celebrant.
What did I learn?
The principles sound easy enough. The Funeral Director gives you a call with relevant details. You arrange to visit the deceased’s family. In the three quarters of an hour or so you spend with them, you elicit the type of service the family are looking for and try and find out some facts about the deceased you can use if asked to deliver a eulogy at the ceremony.
You subsequently work out and agree with the family the ‘script’ and then turn up for the service (in good time). Then you just read out from the script. Simple!
Apart from anything else (and I’m not even mentioning arranging any music and its timing), you have two other serious matters to attend to.
Once the service starts, you are totally in charge. That means that you have to operate the switch/lever/button to close the curtains around the coffin. The crematoria do not all have the same system, so you need to familiarize yourself about this in good time, otherwise you’ll be in quite a spot.
The other matter is timing. There is a tight schedule to be adhered to – it’s like a conveyor-belt at the crematorium (that comment is not meant to be tasteless!). If the service overruns, YOU have to pay a sizeable fine! So it’s essential to prepare the service really carefully in advance, timing every reading, hymn or eulogy to the second. What you can’t really prepare for is how long other participants are going to be taking over their role!
Just a few things I hadn’t really thought about, and now understand. Quite challenging, but very rewarding too. I am looking forward to being unleashed on the public in a matter of weeks, and delivering services that will be memorable for the right reasons!
Before then, further training includes a visit to undertakers and a glimpse behind the scenes at a crematorium! Believe it or not, I’m really looking forward to it!