Funeral Celebrant WA Perth Lynn Coates

Registered as a Civil Celebrant in October 2009, as an incurable romantic, married for 38 years, I eagerly looked forward to officiating Marriages and am sincerely happy to say the couples for whom I have created meaningful ceremonies has been a joy. The same is true for Baby Namings which I am happy to say is reflected in the testimonials I have received.

Shortly thereafter in 2009, taking training in Funeral Celebrancy, I discovered a rich and rewarding journey – one word giving voice above ALL others – RESPECT ©

Reverence Relevant Information Respond – genuinely warm caring attitude
Empathy                                                Etiquette                                             Experience (life & loss) and maturity
Sympathy and understanding Sensitive communication Sincere support & sound listening skills
Professionalism and politeness Personal presentation Problem solving with privacy & confidentiality
Ethical and principled Equality Effective optional resources/discretely guiding
Compassion and courtesy Consideration and comfort Celebrating a life with dignity
Tact and diplomacy Trust, time and integrity Truth – professional dedicated

Ø What knowledge, skills, strengths and experience do you bring to your role as an independent funeral celebrant?

In taking the path of funeral celebrancy, I realised that it had been chosen for me. One thing I know for sure – you cannot beg, borrow or steal life skills, insight or wisdom, neither compassion, empathy or understanding, all of which are a part of the rich and rewarding journey thus far – singing professionally in the UK in the 70s, self employed in Canada in the 80s and as a medico-legal secretary in the 90s. My parents taught me as an infant to embrace the power of knowledge, and to identify my strengths and weaknesses. Along the journey I experienced, and had to acknowledge, life and loss and with maturity, attained additional life skills, ultimately undertaking a new vocation and in so doing, earned the Respect in my role as a worthy, caring Family Funeral Celebrant.

Ø What attracted you to Funeral Celebrancy?

Following the loss of my parents and in particular my mother, I made a conscious promise to myself that for each and every family, I would always do my very best to be worthy of being chosen as the Family Celebrant for their loved one’s service. To be given the opportunity to create a trusting, safe, caring and supportive rapport is an honour and privilege.

Ø In what ways do you consider independent funeral celebrants can assist families

By giving the family time, even if it means offering a second visit. By listening attentively to their memories and reflections, this enables me to record the family’s words that they wish to express to celebrate the unique and significant life of their loved one whose beliefs, ideas and ideals I will then reflect in the ceremony.

Ø Is there such a thing as a “good” funeral?

When families are in shock, are numb and their thinking process is in an altered state, dealing with all the emotions brought on by a loss, clear information should be given about the choices and the possibilities that are available making a funeral very personal and fitting hence answering the question “is there such a thing as a ‘good’ funeral?”

As a Family Funeral Celebrant and as a professional who plays an integral part in this preparation, it is ‘good practice’ to always acknowledge individual differences and views. I discretely offer help, information, guidance and advice on all options available.

Most people find reassurance from having guidance from someone who is experienced and supportive to provide and meet the family’s needs, wishes and expectations as opposed to be being steered towards what is ‘usually’ or ‘normally’ provided.

Ø Is there such a thing as a ‘bad’ funeral?

I believe that effective open communication is the key to avoiding the term “bad funeral”. I presume the question’s reference to a “bad” funeral refers to the use of inappropriate language, dress, wreaths and general disappointment and disapproval of the preparation and delivery of the ceremony voiced by the family.

Remembering that an integral part of being a Funeral Celebrant is adhering to moral principles, values and honesty, the bereaved family will rely on and place their trust, faith and confidence in me. It is with this obligation that I take my responsibility seriously and regard it as a privilege and an opportunity to create a dignified, respectful and healing ceremony to celebrate the significant and unique life of their loved one thus avoiding the question posed.

Ø How do you think families could be better prepared for death?

Having officiated many funerals over a short period of time, I realised very quickly that it is so important to be “better prepared”. My husband and I discussed this subject and came to the conclusion that writing one’s own funeral is not only therapeutic but opened our eyes to the inevitable – our own mortality. We have chosen our music and quite recently, paid for our plot! We have both planned the way we would like to say farewell to our loved ones and have done so for many reasons. Our families are mostly abroad and making important decisions such as choosing our resting place has been done with joy and laughter, not tears and foreboding.

By planning their own funerals, adult family members, when the time comes, will be “better prepared” for death. Everyone will be able to plan smoothly as they will know each individual’s wishes – informal or formal service, cremation or burial – many more options to choose from. Much better to plan ahead rather than guess what the deceased wanted!

By engaging a Family Funeral Celebrant who has empathy, compassion and understanding, who is experienced and knows the funeral process, who is able to discretely offer guidance and options can assist and help families to be ‘better prepared’ for death would, I feel, be welcomed by many families as a “breath of fresh, honest air”.

Ø Do you have any suggestions for families that would provide them with a greater range of funeral options? 

As a Family Funeral Celebrant amongst my suggested options would be to give families ample time and opportunity to discuss their needs, wishes and expectations.

‘Celebrating Every Life’ is an opportunity to have an uplifting service several weeks or months after the death of your loved one. This may follow a private funeral or no formal funeral service. By providing ample time to plan this special ceremony of celebration, it can be personalised according to the wishes of the family, giving them options which will meet their needs and expectations. These options may include having the celebration at their loved one’s favourite place of special significance other than a funeral home or chapel, for example, at the beach, a park, a paddock, a garden, their Club or their favourite function facility, a Community Hall or at their home.

Flexibility with time is all important in every aspect of life – and death. To be in a position to offer an evening service, a weekend service or even a service on a Public Holiday means that the Funeral Celebrant needs to be flexible when offering their greater range of funeral options.

Observing cultural, spiritual and religious beliefs in a civil ceremony with the family’s blessing is a celebration of the life, spirit and traditions – focusing on the deceased’s unique story, truly reflecting and respecting the family’s wishes, needs and expectations.

SCATTERING OF ASHES – OCEAN – NATURE

For those who are considering spreading the ashes of a loved one and have chosen the option of cremation without a formal funeral service, preferring to have appropriate words said by a Family Celebrant during the scattering of cremation ashes in a special place, is another suggested option. This is an ever increasingly popular alternative option.

Uncomfortable with the option of a formal cemetery burial or cremation, families for various reasons are choosing the deceased’s love of the sea or of their love of nature for the final placement or scattering of cremation ashes, attended or unattended.

[Check if permit and/or consent is required for ocean/land scattering of ashes in each State].

 CELEBRATING EVERY LIFE DVD

Celebrating the life of a loved one while they are still alive can be achieved with an informal recorded one-on-one interview for an hour or so over an unspecified period of time of their life stories, their oral histories and final messages for their children and grandchildren.

Another option which may appeal to residents in Aged Homes is a visit from a Family Funeral Celebrant offering an informal chat to a gathering of seniors at their Community Groups.

Both methods of obtaining personal histories for purposes of a Eulogy either written or recorded are non intrusive and give the Funeral Celebrant ample opportunity to edit the final copy. This also gives the loved one an opportunity to choose their own special music to compliment the DVD.

For those families who cannot, due to the depth of their grief or inability to contribute to a eulogy for their loved one, may prefer to play the DVD with musical accompaniment in a formal funeral service.

A further option would be to present the recording to the family as a gift of remembrance as and when chosen as their Family Funeral Celebrant.

Ø What are some of the rewards and challenges you face as an independent funeral celebrant?

It is a blessing to be able to meet the family’s expectations in creating a dignified, deeply meaningful and healing ceremony and above all, respectful. In truth, this is my reward.

Receiving wonderful cards, emails and letters from my families constantly reminds me of the gifts I have to share. Appreciation is a wonderful feeling.

I am humbled to have been recommended as a Family Funeral Celebrant for one of my many families whose own sad experience involved two services four months apart, of a mother and her son-in-law. I was greeted by the family with the words “we wouldn’t and couldn’t have chosen anyone but you”.

The funerals I have officiated thus far in my new vocation originate from well known and patronised Funeral Directors. The challenge I would face as an Independent Funeral Celebrant would be to promote my profile!

Ø Are there some extra-ordinary funerals or memorials that stand out for you?

  • powerful words in a eulogy / tribute “one of the greatest human beings who ever lived”.
  • space limitation – overwhelmingly wonderful funeral attendance.
  • one family chose to celebrate and honour the life their loved one by making handcrafted gifts for the mourners They became special memories and keepsakes for the bereaved.

Ø And / or treasured memories – Holly Wood’s memorial?

  • a public memorial service was held at the Quarry Amphitheatre to celebrate veteran social writer with the Sunday Times, fellow Thespian and good friend Holly Wood – so universally known and universally well liked.