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What is an independent celebrant?

I recently had an amusing encounter featuring a misunderstanding about my name (a bit of nominative determinism – they thought I WAS a Chaplain, when Chaplin is my surname. I can’t imagine why wearing a Vicar of Dibley dog collar leads to this confusion*) and it left me wondering: how many people actually know what a celebrant is?

Leopard print hearse
Leopard print hearse © GFG Inspirational Funerals

Celebrants might officiate at weddings, naming ceremonies and/or funerals – in a similar way that a vicar, priest, minister, rabbi or cleric might do for people of faith. We don’t all do all of them – I do funerals and memorials. I’m here to help those who want support to create the right ceremony, but who would prefer not to go down a religious route. I am not a vicar or minister, nor do I hold any kind of religious office. If asked, I’d say I was an atheist, but this doesn’t mean I’d ever be dismissive of anyone with faith or spiritual beliefs that approached me and wanted a service that included prayer, hymns or ritual. My job is to be supportive and inclusive.

I am trained as a counsellor, so I understand how important it is to listen, and spend time with you, finding out about the person you’ve lost and making sure we create something that honours them. I know families and relationship can be complicated, sometimes messy. I’m not judgemental and I don’t have a fixed mindset about what ‘should’ happen at a Celebration of Life, but am very interested in being creative and imaginative. It’s really very possible to hold these events in beautiful locations – or in a garden! Can be indoors, outdoors. What would the person who has died have really loved? What makes it truly about them? I’d add, that being inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ communities is incredibly important to me.

wicker casket with flowers in a hearse

I work collaboratively to help create a really gorgeous and special Celebration of Life for the person you have lost. My aim is to make you feel like you did the absolute best for the person you have lost. Grieving is very hard, but this helps with the process of letting go.

*I am joking

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