Would you like to know how to deliver authentic, meaningful and compassionate funeral ceremonies that honour and celebrate the lives of the deceased and bring comfort to those they leave behind?
This in depth course leads you through a process of reflecting on all the skills and qualities needed to work with families at times of loss and trauma; to serve them in creating and conducting unique funerals to celebrate the lives of their loved ones; and to help lay the foundations for a healthy grieving and healing process.
Beginning with an exploration of your motivation, and what you bring to this important and privileged task and role, the course goes on to examine funeral celebrancy work in depth and detail, using the four elements and directions as a template for exploration. You’ll be guided through the practicalities of organising and conducting funerals, and liaising between bereaved families and the funeral professions. You will be supported to develop your listening, writing and speaking skills as you prepare for and practice the tasks of funeral celebrancy. You’ll look at how to create fitting celebrations of life, whatever the age or circumstances of death; and reflect on the deep emotional and spiritual processes which a good funeral can support.
Cost: £440 / 3 payments of £150
Underpinning the whole course is an approach to celebrancy as service, in the context of nature based spiritual practices, and a focus on the creation of authentic ceremony.
Session 1: Foundations
We’ll begin the course with an exploration of what makes a good funeral, and you’ll be invited to identify your own strengths and areas for development as we look at the skills and qualities, experience and gifts needed for the work of funeral celebrancy. We’ll take an overview of the many and varied tasks of the funeral celebrant, and your first assignment will invite you to connect with and draw upon your sources of spiritual support and inspiration as you begin to develop a strong foundation for your future practice.
Session 2: NORTH / EARTH
In this session we’ll explore the historical context of our work, and focus on the practicalities of funeral celebrancy. We’ll look at the funeral business, from its origins to the latest developments. We’ll examine the overall structure of the funeral service; and consider some practicalities, basics and traditions, and what might be expected of you in working with funeral directors, crematoria and burial grounds. The session completes with a discussion of the sources of wisdom and tradition that can be accessed from the realm of ancestors, and a guided meditation to help us access these.
Session 3: EAST / AIR
Here we will focus on the communication skills which are vital to our work as celebrants. You’ll be guided through the process of working closely with a bereaved family to prepare, write and conduct a funeral service. We’ll explore the skills needed at each stage in this process: focussing on listening, writing and public speaking. You’ll be given a list of top tips for gathering material, writing and delivering eulogies, and the opportunity to practice all of these skills in your next assignment.
Session 4: SOUTH / FIRE
Here we will focus on serving the living, as we consider the importance of celebrating each unique life, and how to put together a funeral service which reflects and honours the individual as well as bringing together and involving the family and community they leave behind. We’ll also reflect on the power and responsibility which comes with the role of celebrant, and to think about the kinds of challenges we are likely to encounter through this work: the situations we may be called upon to deal with; and the aspects of ourselves we may be confronted with. You’ll be given, and invited to add to, a store of resources in the form of readings, prayers and blessings. This lesson’s assignment invites you to reflect on planning a celebration of life.
Session 5: WEST / WATER
As we move to the West, our focus will be on honouring the great mystery of death, and on navigating the emotional depths we will encounter through this work; both our own, and those of the newly bereaved. We’ll consider the role of celebrant in serving the dead, and consider the transformation which the funeral service is designed to facilitate as we focus on the moment of committal. We will also look at the role of the celebrant in supporting the bereaved and at how the work of funeral celebrancy relates to our own healing journey, before completing the session with a guided journey to seek inspiration, guidance and spiritual support from the natural world. This lesson’s assignment focuses on how to support the onward journey of the bereaved as you bring each funeral to a close.
Session 6: Practicing Celebrancy
In this, our final session, we will review the journey made on this course, and also look ahead at the journey you now embark upon. You’ll be guided to explore your aims and aspirations, set some practical goals, and consider your needs for ongoing learning and support; and you’ll be given some practical suggestions for finding work as a funeral celebrant. We’ll look at the wider context of this work, and at how we can all help to challenge the taboo and denial which has become so endemic in modern society. The course ends with a Ceremony of Completion, which can be adapted to suit your own beliefs, outlooks and practices.
No special software is required to access the course. The course is delivered via six online lessons which you can work through at your own pace. Course materials include video and audio presentations; downloadable documents, and many examples drawn from real-life ceremonies; resource lists and suggestions for your own research; two guided meditations and a ceremony of completion. The course and all materials will remain accessible and free to review at any time.
These self access sessions are supported by an interactive course platform where students can ask questions, participate in discussions, submit assignments and receive feedback on their work, as well as a rolling programme of drop-in webinars with the course tutor. Each session is followed by assignments to be completed in your own time. A certificate will be awarded to all students who successfully complete and submit the six mandatory assignments.
ABOUT THE TUTOR
River Jones is a celebrant with over twenty years’ experience of delivering bespoke ceremonies for people from all walks of life. With a background in adult education and community outreach she worked for over fourteen years at the University of Sussex, where she taught and convened courses ranging from Creative Writing through to Shamanic Consciousness. She has been course director at School of Celebrancy since 2015, and is a sought after workshop leader and speaker, contributing to events and publications for the Celebrants Collective and the Association of Independent Celebrants.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
This course prepares the student for all aspects of celebrancy. We are challenged to create heartfelt blessings & understand the different parts of a ceremony that give it rhythm & life, an arch of energy, a peak then & a settling & grounding. It is a well rounded course that gives a student all the necessary tools to create beautiful ceremonies.
TRAINING / DEVELOPMENT
Tying the Knot:
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a course in community celebrancy
Celebrant-led ceremonies are becoming even more popular for hatchings, matchings and dispatchings – but what about the many other important moments that have traditionally been marked with ritual? Whether you are a new or experienced celebrant, this course will equip you to serve your wider communities, leading ceremonies for neighbourhood events, seasonal celebrations, group and individual rites of passage and other occasions.