Children at a funeral with a Funeral Celebrant

15 December 2021

As a Funeral Celebrant, I have come to the conclusion that funerals are funny things.  You would think all funerals would be the same, but nothing could be further from the truth.  There is indeed a loose format to a funeral, and those guidelines are almost always followed:

  • Welcome
  • Eulogy
  • Reflection
  • Committal
  • Goodbye

As celebrants, we have to make each service special and individual to the deceased.  The difference comes in the eulogy, selected music, poems, and readings.  There can be a theme to a service.  For example, someone mad about football can have a football theme service with the eulogy reflecting a football match.  Often, the eulogy is humorous, and its job is to make people remember the deceased fondly. 

Children at the Funeral

You can then understand my surprise when I conducted a funeral today when we only had 9 mourners.  Four mourners were children saying goodbye to their father.  I was worried about the service as I wanted to ensure the service helped the children come to terms with their loss, as they were unable to say goodbye in person as he died of cancer in the hospital.  The children’s ages ranged from 4 to 14.  Their mum had agreed to the service I had written and given me some valuable hints and tips about their dad.

I had spent about 4 hours writing the service, most of which was spent on the eulogy.  Even though most services are 30 minutes, the work behind the scenes is time-consuming and extensive.  I tried to make the service child friendly so they could say their last goodbye and the service I had created would only last for 22 minutes.

The Questions Children asked me as a Funeral Celebrant

Children at a Funeral

When I got to the crematorium, I spoke to the family and dialogue with the children.  They proudly showed me the pictures they had drawn for Dad and were on their best behaviour.  We went into the chapel a little early, and I started to read my script. 

Within a few minutes, I knew that the script I had created wasn’t going to really work.  So, putting that aside, I was led by the children and their questions about the service.

  • Does the screen with daddy’s name on it change every time someone dies?
  • Why is there a film of a flickering candle?
  • Are the candles real or fake?
  • Why do we have to leave by the door on the right?
  • How many funerals are there

I also asked them questions, for example

  • Daddy liked which football team
  • What are the colours of the football team?

Instead of reading the whole script, I spent some of my time answering their questions.  During a part of the service, I mentioned that sometimes parents get things wrong, and one child picked up on this, and we had to explain that yes, parents get things wrong, but they correct themselves quickly so that they can guide you better.

During the committal, the children put the pictures they had drawn for him on the coffin, explained what they were, and said a quiet goodbye.  The children were fantastic; they were not frightened to ask questions, and the service was more of a celebration of life and their last goodbye. 

Conclusion of Children at a Funeral

As a funeral celebrant, I know I have to be adaptable and be guided by the audience.  In this case, the children of the deceased.  This was probably one of the most enjoyable funeral services I have conducted as a funeral celebrant.

To find out more about using Julie as your Funeral Celebrant click here