Funerals: Frequently Asked Questions

Some of your questions may be answered below. Please telephone or email me about anything else you would like clarified.

Q. What is alternative about your funeral services?

A. As much or as little as you wish. You may simply want to make a fairly traditional service more personal, of you may want to create something utterly unique, beginning perhaps with a venue that truly expresses somethingabout the person who has died.

Q. Do you offer non-religious services?

A. I offer semi-religious, non-religious and Humanist services. I am happy to help you plan a service rich in the spiritual, or without any at all; the choice is yours.

Q. Do you look after all the proceedings associated with death and the funeral?

A. No, I am a funeral celebrant, not a funeral director. However, I am very happy to share with you my experience and knowledge of local funeral directors, and others who offer a particularly alternative service.

Q. Do you charge for an initial phone call?

A. No, I see this as a time when you can have your immediate questions answered and decide whether you might like us to work together.

Q. Are you professionally trained?

A. Yes, I trained in New Zealand, in what was then the first celebrant training in the world. I learned to draw out from people what they want to commemorate and how; to structure ceremonies with a sense of balance and completeness; to ‘hold’ the participants in the sacred space that any ceremony elicits; and to shed any ‘baggage’ that may get in the way of my being fully present to others.

Q. How can you help us?

A. I can visit you at home and encourage you to talk about the person whose funeral you are arranging. From this time of sharing I will glean a great deal about your loved one and how his or her life might be celebrated and death mourned. Then we go through an unfolding process to create a personal and truly fitting ceremony.

Q. What are the fundamentals of a funeral service and what’s the best order for them?

A. There is no wrong way to do a funeral, but if you click here on Funeral Service Outlineit will give you a resource you can use to make sure the fundamentals are included and the movement through them is satisfying.

Q. What are the legal constraints regarding who can officiate at a funeral and where it can be?

A. Fundamentally there are none. Anyone can officiate, and a funeral can be held almost anywhere. There are limits to where burials can take place, but even so there are more options than most people realise.

Q. What if we want to conduct the funeral ourselves once you’ve helped us plan it?

A. That’s fine. I would encourage you in that. You may still like me to be unobtrusively present in case, at the last minute, you find you can’t do it.

Q. It’s a memorial service we want. Can you help with that?

A. Yes, certainly. There are times when a memorial service is best in the circumstances.
The process is fundamentally similar and I would be delighted to work with you to create something honouring and unique.

Q. Right now all I want to do at the funeral is announce that Dad was a tyrant. How would you deal with that?

A. Death can bring strong emotions to the surface. First let me say that feelings are what they are, and for our own sakes they need to be felt and acknowledged. Then there is a maxim I live by which time and again has helped me accept the other’s point of view without denying my own feelings. It is, “No-one does anything inappropriate given their model of the world”. Holding such a thought alongside the emotions you’re feeling may help you reach a place where you are more accepting and ready to express your hurts with honesty and compassion during the funeral service. This is the balance I would hope to achieve.

Q. We’re having real trouble knowing what Mum would have wanted as we never talked about death. How can you help us deal with this?

A. This is not an uncommon dilemma. Few people prepare for death. I would take you through a range of funeral options to identify what seems best.

Q. Do you help people prepare funeral services before death?

A. Yes. This can be a wonderful thing for people to do either on their own or with others. I find assisting people to prepare their own funeral services a real privilege, and most find it really liberating.

021 0832 4224 © margie mccallum 2016