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How A Funeral Celebrant Helps Create a Meaningful Tribute for A Loved One

February 15, 2021

Funeral Celebrants, also called Life Celebrants, are specially trained professionals who provide meaningful and personalized funerals that celebrate the life of an individual regardless of religious affiliation. At Keohane Funeral Home, we offer Celebrant services to serve our families in the way that is most meaningful to them.

“A Celebrant offers an alternative to a funeral service officiated by a member of the clergy, especially for those families who are not affiliated with a church, do not wish to have a traditional religious service, or do not want to hold services in a church setting,” said Co-President John Keohane. “Services run by Celebrants serve the same purpose as any funeral service – celebrating the individual life and providing comfort to family and friends.”

There is no denying that everyone grieves differently; there is simply no one way to grieve. Funeral Celebrants have the freedom and honor to support the bereaved by advising, co-creating, coordinating, providing resources, facilitating, and leading services that respect the uniqueness and healing needs of different families and friends.

The Celebrant designs and conducts personalized funeral services that celebrate the life of the loved one through a unique tribute. Many personalized elements can be included, such as personal stories; favorite music; video tributes; photos or memory boards; poems and readings; as well as prayers and rituals.

You Have Choices

When choosing an officiant for a loved one’s funeral, many families are not aware that they have choices available. At Keohane Funeral Home, we not only offer Celebrant services, we have certified Funeral Celebrants on our staff to serve our families in the way that is most meaningful for them. A Life Celebration service offers an alternative to a service officiated by clergy, especially for those families who are not affiliated with a church, do not wish to have a traditional religious service, or do not want to hold services in a church setting.

While Celebrants often fulfill the role of clergy in a funeral service, they are not affiliated with any particular religion and can include as much or as little religious content or ritual as the family wishes – the choice is in the hands of the family. Celebrants work with family members to create a service intended to be a uniquely personalized, deep and loving remembrance of their loved one. This tribute exemplifies the spirit, uniqueness and significance of the life of the loved one. Above all, a Life Celebration service reflects the wishes of the deceased and the family. The Life Celebrant’s task is to create a ceremony that reflects the wishes, beliefs, values and culture – whether religious or non-religious – of both the loved one and the entire family.

Life Stories

A Celebrant is a trained and certified facilitator who is able to take the time to sit down and listen to the needs of loved ones in order to fully honor the individual who has passed. During the meeting with family and friends, which can be through teleconferencing for safety during the pandemic, the Celebrant collects stories and memories to be able to express the life story of the individual who has departed. After meeting with family and friends, the Celebrant helps express the life story of the individual who has departed through a unique service that celebrates life.

“Recently, after meeting with the family of a 90-year-old woman, listening to stories filled with love and laughter, one word kept repeating in my thoughts: joy. That one word became the theme and the tone for her graveside service, bringing much comfort to her family. This dear woman had told her family for years that she wanted them to play ‘Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog’ at her funeral service… why? Because the refrain is this: Joy to the World, All the Boys and Girls, Joy to the Fishes in the Deep Blue Sea, Joy to you and Me. It was a song that she had loved dancing to at her daughter’s wedding and she wanted the joy she felt then and throughout her life to be remembered in her death. And so, they joined hands and bounced to the music as they laid their mother to rest,” said Mary Gallagher, Certified Funeral Celebrant.

Funeral Celebrants can lead these personalized services in a variety of locations: the funeral home, the graveside, or a hall, depending on a variety of factors surrounding family desires. It’s also certainly possible to hold a Funeral Celebrant service in addition to a traditional religious service or to combine some aspects of a faith tradition within the Funeral Celebrant service, including the presence of clergy alongside the Funeral Celebrant.

“What I have discovered in eight years of work as a Funeral Celebrant is the beauty and depth of life and love of all kinds planted in all sorts of situations. I have been enriched each and every time I sit with a family to hear the stories of a cherished one and witness how much joy memories shared can bring to people even as they carry deep sorrow. I walk away from the family meetings in awe of how much healing happens there and how much I learn from each person’s life and legacy,” said Mary.

To learn more about Life Celebrant services or to make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable funeral directors, please contact us at any of our locations or call our main office at 1-800-Keohane (800-536-4263).


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