VECTIS VIEW: Diane York, Independent Celebrant

It’s November 14th, 2018. My husband of fifty plus years, and I, are touching down at London’s Heathrow airport, arriving from Boston, Massachusetts. I’m in seventh heaven and he’s in shock – you can take the boy out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the boy, as they say! I, on the other hand, grew up in Cardiff, Wales, and I was just so happy to finally, be home – anywhere in the UK would have suited – but happily, we found the Isle of Wight. Our family is in Lymington – very convenient – and the trip across the Solent is always a pleasure; I never tire of it.

I had worked full-time since my mid-teens, and thought I was well and truly ready to enjoy putting my feet up and settling down with a good book at any time of the day, and do as I pleased. But it wasn’t to be. As it turns out, I’m not suited to retirement; in short, I miss the ‘business’ of business. Fortunately, with several previous careers centred around the service industry, I was able to segue into my most recent field, as a Celebrant. Last year, I completed training with the Fellowship of Independent Celebrants, specialising in funeral celebrancy. However, it soon became apparent to me that many people are unaware of what a funeral celebrant is, but more important, what they do?
I hope the following explanation helps you understand what we, as Celebrants offer. For my part, it is truly a calling.

What is a Funeral Celebrant and what do they do?

*A funeral celebrant is generally an independent service provider (sometimes referred to as an Officiant) offering a non-religious funeral, as well as services with prayers, music, biblical passages and themes and funeral poems. These will be suggestions, of course, the choice always remains with the family.

*They are often chosen by families as a way of best reflecting the wishes of their loved one with a service that honours their personal story, bringing together the most important moments of their lives.

*When emotions are heightened, due to the loss of a loved one, it can be helpful to turn to someone who can naturally empathise with you, and who has a maturity of understanding.

*When you have chosen a funeral celebrant, a meeting will be arranged, in a comfortable setting, to decide how much participation family and friends would like to have during the service. They will ask questions about the person they have lost, for example: stories from childhood/school days; anecdotes from work/colleagues; habits (good or bad!); marriage – is there a story about how they first met? Children and grandchildren? Hobbies/interests? And many more … a good way to rekindle memories is to look at photographs!

*Once this information has been gathered, your funeral celebrant/officiant will create a service unique to your loved one. You will be presented with a draft for your review.

*A funeral celebrant will support you from your first meeting to the end of the service, ensuring that your families’ wishes exceed expectations.

Where can a non-religious funeral service be held?

A non-religious funeral can take place at a crematorium, a natural burial site, a parish hall or even a hotel or your own home.

How much does a Funeral Celebrant cost?

Generally, celebrants will charge £200-£250 – be sure to ask what is included!