Clergy, Celebrants, Family - Choosing a Funeral Officiant


Posted on October 30, 2018 by

One of the most important--and unavoidable--determinations for any funeral is deciding who will officiate the actual funeral or memorial service. The decision can be a difficult one if the deceased did not specify any final wishes. Will it be a clergy member, a trusted family member, or a certified celebrant? Knowing your choices, and what to consider when choosing, is imperative to making a decision that will honor your loved one.

Consider a Clergy Member

Clergy members belong to a particular religious order and must follow the rules of that religion when conducting a funeral service. If the deceased attended a church regularly, this may be a good option. Choosing a clergy member from their church ensures their funeral aligns with their treasured beliefs. Many people, whether spiritual or religious, find comfort in funerals performed by clergy. Additionally, these kinds of funerals are often easier to plan because the clergy use traditional formats. They can still plan a more personalized service, but must stay within religious requirements.

Consider a Celebrant

Celebrants differ from clergy in that they are certified officiants, but they do not follow particular religious rituals. A celebrant follows the family’s or the deceased’s wishes when planning the funeral, and have more flexibility than clergy. Consider the experience of the celebrant to ensure you’re getting the best choice for the kind of funeral you imagine. Also, many celebrants are part of larger associations, which means that if the celebrant is unable to perform the ceremony at the last minute, the association could typically send another celebrant in their place.

There are also different types of celebrants who specialize in particular areas. Humanist celebrants focus on life-centered funerals as they do not believe in an afterlife. Civil or independent celebrants can perform funerals with or without religion. Some celebrants specialize in performing alternative, themed, or green funerals.

Consider Yourself or a Family Member

Performing a funeral does not require legal status. Thus, a family member is welcome to plan and perform the service. However, feelings of overwhelming grief often prevent family members from choosing this option – yet some believe this is the best way to honor their deceased. Ensure you or the family member is adequately prepared to handle this task before accepting.

Consider the Budget

After you’ve weighed the options on who can perform the service, take a look at your funeral budget. This will help to guide you further as you choose an officiant. Some clergy will do complimentary funerals for deceased church members, while hiring a celebrant may be costly.

Whatever the budget, consider what will best honor the memory of your loved one.  Above all else, you’ll want to ensure your loved one is being honored in the best possible way.

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