Why Did I Become a Celebrant?

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the biggest reasons I wanted to be a celebrant comes from a most universal reason: I had a bad experience and I never wanted to repeat it again. Not only do I never want to repeat it again, but I want to do everything I am able to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else. My grandmother's funeral was traumatic for me-- think a movie mash-up of “Running With Scissors” with “Garden State”--, and I knew there had to be a different way to come to terms with death and to mark a person's life than what I experienced.

So, let's fall back a few more years. I have a degree in English and journalism, and I chose that training because I find universal truths in the stories I read, and referencing those stories are how I understand the world and relate to others. Dr. Juvenal Urbino1 proposes his friendship by way of music; I propose mine by way of books and stories. I also use these stories to build my own identity. Patrick Rothfuss wrote, “...Everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”2

I believe in stories, and I believe stories can heal. Telling our personal story is a powerful action, and telling the story of a loved one's life is powerful. When I discovered that I could help families do that-- help tell the story of their loved one, and tell their own story, too, in the role they played in their loved one's life-- I was impassioned. That is what I had been looking to do for years-- the years of college, and the years after when I volunteered in various roles, all of which had something to do with building community and strengthening relationships. The supportive work that I do in helping to build community and strengthen relationships is what I think matters in life, and it's what I want to spend my time doing. Support is the key word here, and the key word from the definition I use to describe what a celebrant is: "A celebrant seeks to meet the needs of families during their time of loss by providing support during the initial stage of grief and by creating a customized funeral and memorial service that reflects the personality of the person who died."

It came full circle when we buried my grandfather this year. I told his story, which is my mother's back story, and my aunts', my uncles', my cousins', and mine. We knew were we came from.


1 From Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera.

2 From the book The Name of the Wind

3 Secret Bonus Material! One of my favorite movies is “Departures.”