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Circle of Love Wedding Ceremonies

Hearts are Bound By: Rev. Shannon Mackay

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New Options and Trends


The funeral celebrant is a relatively new role that fills an increasing need as more and more people do not have a religious affiliation and do not have a pastor to turn to when a death occurs. Death is a passage of life that needs to be recognized, documented and celebrated.

Funeral celebrants are playing an important role in changing how we think about death. Old traditions are not being observed as commonly as before. New customs and practices are being developed.

Sometimes families assume there is not a need for a funeral service, but I disagree.   Everyone has a story to tell and every life is worth celebrating.  A funeral not only honors the person that has passed, it is a crucial part of the grieving process for those left behind and a monumental milestone that we all must reach someday.  Why not embrace it and make it your own, have the last word so to speak! 

Being a funeral celebrant, is the both interesting and satisfying work, it is such a huge privilege to be able to share people’s lives and experience those family memories with them. 

My approach is infused with an obvious depth, of empathy and compassion for life and rites of passage.  I start by meeting with the family to plan the celebration.  During the preparatory meetings, family members tell their stories of the deceased, or of their life if pre-planning, often revealing perspectives that have never been told before.  Families find it very helpful to share these stories, even those of abuse and other unhappy experiences.

These stories also provide information for the eulogy. Often the celebrant will do the eulogy, although others may as well.

Composing the eulogy can be assisted greatly by any oral histories or memoirs that have been prepared earlier. Such accounts, can be invaluable in keeping alive for future generations the memories of those who have passed. 

I believe that the eulogy should reflect the totality of the deceased – the good and the bad. You don’t have to dwell on the bad, but if it exists, you need to deal with it.

Because there is no need to follow a traditional religious or other pattern, the options are open. Choices include venue, music, speakers, readings, ceremonies (like candle lighting or balloon release), and participation of the people attending.

And modern technology is creating even more opportunities. Some services, for example, are broadcast over the Internet. They then can be experienced live anywhere in the world by those who cannot be there in person.

The new funeral and memorial service options that people have now are much better than the past because now it is all about the personalization and options. If you are at this site then you already are taking advantage of the new trend to start your funeral or cremation planning online and at home.


Some of these new options include:


~Online posting of pictures, and obituaries and memorials online for family and friends to sign in 

        and leave notes for the family.


~Live website broadcast of the funeral or memorial service in a discrete, respectful manner. The

        family is given a special access code so that out of town friends and relatives who can not

        make the trip due to age, illness or other reasons can view the funeral service via the internet.

        A recording can also be given to the family afterward. This has been going on with presidents

        and other famous people for a long time.


~Some people now utilize DVDs, VCRs or laptop computers at the funeral home or after the

        memorial service to show home movies or slide shows of the deceased. This can be quite



~Green burials - designated open space parks that do not allow any grave markers or monuments.


~Remains are placed in bio-degradable containers, simple wood coffins, or nothing at all.

        Embalmed remains are not allowed. It is an all natural approach, you would not know it was a

        cemetery because there are no headstones, just open public space.


~Memory Gardens - where you can dedicate a bench and scatter the cremated ashes in a specific

        area of a cemetery or one that is strictly dedicated to memorial garden space.


~Many new cemeteries now operate as all encompassing; serving as a funeral home,

        crematorium, cemetery, niche availability, mausoleums, church, and memorial rooms all at

        one location. There are some in our directories.


~Life Gems will transform cremated ashes into a diamond. Prices range from $3,200 for a quarter

        carat to $20,000 for approximately 1 carat. Check them out in our directories to understand

        the process and other associated information.


~Ashes launched into space aboard a commercial spaceflight.


~Ashes converted in to coral reef balls. A company in Florida mixes the ashes in with concrete reef

        balls and then places them in the ocean to regenerate coral reef growth.


~Currently there is a large variety of bio-degradable urn selections for placement just about

        anywhere allowed by law.


~Motorcycle enthusiasts can have their ashes placed in a motorcycle engine and there are some

        urns even made for two.


~Caskets currently are being painted in over thirty different themes.


~Now we also have the option to buy stars and name them for the deceased.


~Plant a garden in memory of the deceased.


~Plant a memorial tree in memory of the deceased.


~ A hand print ceremony that recognizes how the deceased has touched the lives of others.

     Each person participating touches the urn or casket to leave a symbolic handprint.  This 

     practice comes from the memorial at the site of the 1990’s terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City.

     Visitors there have created their own meaningful tradition. They first wet a hand in the reflecting

     pool. They then make a fleeting impression of a hand print on the metal face of the memorial.

~At a graveside service, outdoor memorial service, or during the scattering of cremation ashes

     you could do a:

           Butterfly release

           Dove release

           Balloon release - Bio-degradable please 

           Candlelight ceremony

           Hand print Ceremony

           Memory Stone Ceremony