This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
funeral in 2010 and my new career has blossomed – I have officiated at hundreds of services now and each one is completely different. As an independent celebrant I don’t have

any affiliation with any church or humanist organisation. This means I can work alongside the relatives and friends of the deceased to create exactly the funeral service they want for their loved one. Of course, I can conduct a totally non-

religious service but some families ask if an element of religion or spirituality can be included and I will sometimes help them to choose a suitable prayer or hymn or poem. Often family members wish to take part in the

service and I always welcome that. Having done this for my father, I know how important it feels, it seems like the last thing you will do for your loved one. Once I receive the telephone call from the funeral director I call the family of the deceased and arrange an appointment. I ask that we might spend a couple of hours together talking about the life of the deceased. At the end of our meeting people will often say to me ‘we were dreading you coming but it’s been like a therapy session – we’ve really enjoyed talking to you’. I then write the funeral service, which can take several hours, and send it to the family for their approval.

I meet them at the funeral service where I work alongside the funeral director, the

pall bearers, the chapel attendants and all the other people dedicated to making the funeral service a fitting tribute. It is always a special moment when, at the end of a service, I am told I must have been a friend of the family as I spoke as if I knew the person. I have received hundreds of beautiful cards thanking me for the service I created – I do remind the families that we created it together. During the last four years I have heard some incredible stories of ordinary lives that are completely extraordinary. I have shared amazing tales of courage, of resilience and of love. I’ve been told of lives full of kindness or regret, of hopes fulfilled and dreams realised, of families reunited and of the kindness of strangers. There have been plenty of tales of rags to riches … and riches to rags. I’ve learned of the young Nottinghamshire

Spitfire pilot training in the Arizona desert and dancing with Hollywood superstar Rita Hayworth, her lipstick kiss on his handkerchief still somewhere amongst his possessions; of the German Prisoner of War captured at the D-Day Landings and taken to California - where he met Clark Gable. I’ve been told of the British Prisoner of War

left for dead, and of the tiny photo of two young Nottinghamshire girls he discovered amongst the bull-rushes of a river in Borneo which gave him the strength and will to stay alive and return to his family in, of all places, Nottingham. In fact, one of the two girls in the photograph turned up at his funeral service almost 70 years later. I’ve been told of chance meetings leading to

marriage and a lifetime of love and happiness. I’ve heard of unsung heroes – an old man who as a young boy rescued his young sister from their burning family home and an old woman who as a teenager had jumped into a river to save a drowning child. I’ve heard of people who have risen

from the humblest of beginnings to find success against all odds and people who have coped in the most difficult of circumstances. I’ve shared the heartbreak at the loss of

a young life and the shock at the hardest death to grieve – the death that is chosen. My work never feels like work, it isn’t a job, it feels an honour and an absolute

privilege as people allow me into their homes to share their stories, their tears and their lives. I feel fortunate to have

found my vocation. For further information about Sally visit her website

PHOTO: The independent celebrant, Sally Ward

What is a celebrant?

A FUNERAL CELEBRANT IS a person who can help plan, write and lead a funeral service, especially where a religious funeral is not appropriate. People from all walks of life choose to become celebrants, but most are motivated by a strong desire to help families give the person who has died a send-off which honours, gives thanks for, and, even, celebrates a life. Some celebrants are introduced to families by a funeral director, others are approached directly. Either way, all will work closely with the family and the funeral director to ensure everything goes to plan. A good celebrant will work with you, to

your instructions, either to create, or help you create, a ceremony that is right for you.

How do I choose a celebrant?

YOUR CELEBRANT WILL BE your chosen representative at the funeral, so you need to find someone who makes you feel at ease and comfortable and shares your values. Evidence of training and commitment to best practice and professional development may also be important to you. It’s worth asking around your friends and finding out if any of them has been to a well-run funeral. Or visit

website, which lists almost every celebrant in the country.

Farewell Magazine 49

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84