On Being a Funeral Celebrant

Charles 5 Comments

Here I am, somehow standing in for this person
we have all gathered to honour and farewell.
I have listened to family and friends,
asked questions to elicit the fullest picture,
the roundest sense of the life at the centre of our ritual.

And here I am, holding it all,
the balance of dignity and lightness,
truth and compassion, sorrow and hopefulness.
In the face of death I am alive, fully present,
every cell seeming to take in and give out what is needed.

Who am I serving in this cherished role?
I am serving the deceased,
standing in the midst of her family,
listening on her behalf,
open to the shades and the nuances.

I am serving family members,
each different in relationship and perspective,
each creating their piece of the remembering.

I am serving friends, colleagues,
anyone who needs to mark an ending,
to say goodbye,
to use the efficacy of ceremony
to be with their regretting and their gratitude.

I am serving the professionals –
the funeral director,
crematorium and cemetery staff,
musicians and bearers
by attending to the details
so the process is orderly and timely.

I serve healing,
for a funeral that is fitting and meaningful
and invites participation
sits well in our bones,
and the journey back to wholeness can begin.

And over and around all this there dwells a larger picture,
a sense that we are held, each one of us,
in something sacred,
and far beyond our knowing.

Margie McCallum

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Jon Underwood
11 years ago

So moving! Thank you.


Comfort Blanket
Comfort Blanket
11 years ago

As Jon says, very moving. And gives me a wider, more meaningful perspective on my role as a celebrant. Thanks Margie and thanks Charles.

gloria mundi
11 years ago

Thanks Margie, through Charles. An excellently eloquent call to our better selves and our higher purpose in this job. Happily, not much to do with “market share,” is it?

11 years ago


Thank you for putting it onto the blog.

Mark Shaw
10 years ago

well if anyone ever needs a poem to read a the funeral of a former celebrant here it is!