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About Civil Celebrant (Humanist) Funerals

Becoming involved in the funeral of a close family member, or even a close friend, is a time filled with grief, loss and despair. Thinking back on the funerals you have attended over the years, how many can you honestly say were a worthy tribute to the persons life? How many acknowledged your grief and anguish? How many recorded and remembered the person in a manner that befitted both the person and your memory of them?

It is fair to say that there are a number of excellent members of the religious and secular fraternity who go out of their way to make a ceremony meaningful in the context of the life of the deceased. But the sad fact is that there are far too many ceremonies conducted by people who are not committed to making the funeral ceremony the focal point of your commemoration of the loved ones' life.

It may be that you are facing the sad task of organising, or preparing to organise, a funeral. In these pages we seek to persuade you that the celebrant is the person who specializes in your ceremony and should be one of your first points of contact. There are some wonderful celebrants, and we hope we can help you connect.

The group associated with this website have fought very hard, against enormous odds, to establish a standard of preparation and delivery for Funeral Ceremonies which is consonant with a civilised culture.

You may be under pressure but we urge you to read these pages and get the picture before you make your decisions.

In the unfortunate event of a death, or an impending death in your family, we strongly urge you to RING YOUR own CELEBRANT FIRST (i.e.not the Funeral Director). The reason for this is simple. The ceremony is the most important part of the funeral!

The College trained or professional celebrant, under your instructions, prepares the ceremony. It is highly recommended that you ask the celebrant to ring the Funeral Director on your behalf - with your instructions. This empowers the celebrant to get it right for you and the person you loved.

In Victoria, where most Funeral Directors are ethical, you can often take the Funeral Director's recommendation. In States other than Victoria you should never take a Funeral Director's recommendation. To save money and time many Funeral Directors push clergy onto people (low price, one service fits all), or persuade "the family" to do it (no charge), or thrust very cheap so called celebrants (low price one service, slightly altered, fits all) to do it. Once a family find that this is inadequate and unsatisfactory, it is too late - the opportunity has been lost.

We strongly urge our constituency not to be intimidated into a Funeral Service which is badly or too quickly organized - resulting in the exacerbation of grief, and lifetime regret that this important ceremony was not done properly.

Further Reflections: Funerals In our Western Society

The topic of death and dying is one that is mostly tip-toed around in our modern western culture. In the secular part of our society, in the last 50 years, the management of the body of the loved one, the participation of the family in planning and preparation, seem to have evolved away from the family into the role of the Funeral Parlour.

This may be the approach you wish to take, and we wish you well. However, if you have ever attended or been involved in a funeral ceremony that left you feeling a little distressed, or with the feeling that the ceremony was not one that paid true honour to the life of that loved one, then please read on.

Civil Celebrant Funerals

Civil Celebrant Funerals are becoming recognized as a means by which the family can honour their loved one in a way that enhances the experience and recognizes the place of the ceremony in the most important grieving process. This process is well-recognised by social science professionals and is a vital link in the emotional healing process. Read the Civil Celebrant Funeral page to understand more.

The Funeral Celebrants represented on these pages are committed professionals who will work with you in preparing a ceremony that befits the memory of your loved one and considerably enhances the memory the family will hold of them. 

Plan Your Own Funeral Ceremony (See Funeral Planning)

Funeral planning can encompass a number of activities that include insurance, selection of coffin, payment plans and so on.  However, the most meaningful part of any funeral activity is the ceremony. This is the place where your life story can be told and where your place in your family can be honoured, where memories of your life are revived and given new life in those who remain. It is vitally important that you have a hand in this.  Please consider planning your own ceremony.

What Can I Read That Might Help

The following list of books are recommended by celebrants who conduct funerals. Some are available through the Celebrants Centre.

To assist celebrants and others prepare for and deliver a Funeral:

Dally Messenger's book 'Ceremonies and Celebrations', the funeral chapters, include five example ceremonies. It is the original and classic text for Funeral Celebrants and a hard copy is available from the Celebrants Centre.

Books to Assist with Grief:

The following list of books are recommended by celebrants who conduct funerals. Some are available through the Celebrants Centre.

Mal and Dianne McKissock - 'Coping with Grief'

Celebrant Robyn O'Connell's book for children 'What Happens when You Die'.

Elizabeth Kubhler-Ross - 'On Death and Dying' and 'On Children and Death'.

A Personal History - a Memorial

When a loved one dies and family members may be unable to attend a service or a memorial service, the pages in this section can be utilised to present the ceremony on-line to allow others to share your memories.

View these pages at