Sunday, January 11, 2009

Certified Celebrants

"It is an important day when we stop to bear witness to a person's life & times among us."

My name is Cody B. Magill and I am one the funeral director's here at the Turner Funeral Home. In 2006, I completed Certified Celebrant training offered by the InSight Institute and the University of Oklahoma at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. Celebrant training is, by far, one of the best things I have done in my career in funeral service. I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about Celebrants and what we do.

What is a Celebrant?

A Celebrant is a person who is trained and certified to meet the needs of families during their time of loss. A Celebrant serves by providing a funeral service that is personalized to reflect the personality and lifestyle of the deceased.

What do you think of when you think of a funeral service? An organ prelude, a minister speaks, a prayer is said, then we go to the cemetery and it's over. Celebrant services are about ending the "cookie-cutter funerals" of the past. They are about creating a meaningful, personalized service that celebrates a life-lived rather than mourning a life-lost. This is accomplished via a mix of music, ceremonies, stories, and readings that reflect the life of the deceased. Many times, family participation in the service is encouraged, such as survivors lighting a memorial candle or releasing balloons; even the simplest act can have profound meaning at such a time in our lives.

The Importance of Ceremony

Ceremonies and rituals are important in our society. By publicly declaring important milestones in our lives, we give the moment a place of honor. Shared with family and friends, we gain their support as we go through expected changes.

Secular ceremonies are becoming so popular because they cross faith and cultural boundaries. By bringing together the common values of humanity from all belief systems, secular ceremonies allow each of the participants to experience positive feelings special or unique to them.

Ceremonies acknowledge and honor important transitions in our lives. By creating a time and space to publicly proclaim an event, we declare our readiness to honor what has gone before and to embrace a new path. By inviting our friends and loved ones to mark the occasion with us, we allow them to offer us their love and support, which strengthens our bonds with them.

The function of ceremony is to bring people together for love and support during transitions into new beginnings. Ceremony allows us to join and bond when we experience loss. The social acceptance and understanding of our grief reminds us that we are going through expected feelings and allows a healthy approach to living life without the loved one lost. Ceremony can aid communities in handling tough times.

What does a Certified Celebrant offer to the family?
  • A Celebrant offers an alternative to a service provided by a clergy person for those families who are not affiliated with a church or who do not wish to have a traditional funeral service.
  • A Celebrant has been specifically trained to design a service that is completely personal, incorporating those unique stories, songs, and experiences that defined the loved one.
  • A Celebrant has a library of resources available for readings, music, ceremonies, and personal touches. The Celebrant will consult with the family to help design a service that best reflects and memorializes the life of their loved one.
  • A Celebrant is bound by a Code of Ethics for complete confidentiality in all dealings with the family.
Turner's is the only funeral home in the area to have a Certified Celebrant on staff and I am the only Certified Celebrant in Beaver and Lawrence Counties. I have had the opportunity to do several Celebrant services here at Turner's and the families I have served have found them to be comforting, meaningful celebrations of a life well-lived. A Celebrant service is a deeply personal experience that is unlike any other funeral service you will attend and is ideal for families with or without a religious background.

If you have any questions about Certified Celebrants or Celebrant Services, please email me at and I will be happy to chat with you.

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