Updated: Feb 28
In 2005 I was looking for a career change, and a friend suggested becoming a celebrant, my immediate thought of being a celebrant was marrying people, but at that time getting registered to become a celebrant was a waiting game with a cap on registrations each year it may have taken a couple of years to start work. Then a friend said why don’t you become a funeral celebrant, I dismissed this immediately, I felt there was no chance of me getting up to speak at a funeral without becoming a blubbing mess.
In March 2005 my grandmother passed away and for some reason I had this overwhelming need to do her eulogy. My family where happy for me to do this and for that I am eternally grateful. After speaking and telling the story of my grandmothers life I realised if I could do this for someone I knew and loved then I could do it for others. A few months later I attended the funeral of a friend, sitting in the chapel I was confront with a celebrant that had a very cold persona, the words where read without expression, no infliction, no emotion, very cold. I remember sitting through the service and rather than thinking about my friend I was overcome by the stone wall that was delivering the ceremony. It was a horrible experience but for me it was invaluable. So in 2006 after much deliberation I decided to do the course and see how I went with becoming a funeral celebrant.
I took to the work like a duck to water; I have got so much gratification out of helping people through the sad and difficult times in their lives and have had the honour and privilege of looking after their loved one’s farewells.
In 2008 I received a phone call from a lady I had come to know and had done the service for her son when he passed away tragically. She was excited to share the news that her daughter was getting married and wanted me to be the celebrant, I remember her devastation over the phone when I told her that I was not registered to marry people that I only took care of funerals, memorials, and baby name days. The connection I had made with her family and the connection I had to her son was something that was important to her and her family and I felt that I had let them down.
After turning a few more clients away where I had looked after grandparents of other loved ones, My best friend decided to get married and told me it was about time I stopped turning people away and about time I did the course and registered to become a marriage celebrant, and that she was going to wait until I did, so that I could be her celebrant. So in 2009 I became a marriage celebrant and her’s was the first wedding ceremony I conducted it was indeed a very special day.
I now work through all the fields as a celebrant and do so as a full time occupation, I believe that regularity brings continuity and continue to work on my skills for speaking. In 2010 I joined Toastmasters and over the years have worked through their program to gain speaking, listening, communication and leadership skills I gained my Distinguished Toastmaster Award in 2018, and continue to work on improving my skills.
Over the years I have looked after thousands of people and conducted hundreds of ceremonies, each of which are personal and reflective be it a naming day, wedding, funeral, memorial or scattering of ashes, I believe that a ceremony should meet all the needs of the family I am looking after, I believe in contingency plans, as we only have one chance to get it right, and we need to make sure that everything that can be done is done to achieve the best outcome. I have also come to realise that being flexible in creating the ceremony that is right for the occasion is imperative.
I have to say that 13 or so years later I have enjoyed every moment of the journey; there have been highs and lows. I meet so many lovely families and worked with them to create meaningful and reflective ceremonies for their special day. The work I do is not an occupation; it is a calling that I feel honoured to be able to do.