2018 Professional Days of Learning

Sydney will host its 2018 Professional Day of Learning for Funeral Celebrants on Sunday 27 May at the NSW Writers Centre.

Melbourne will host its 2018 Professional Day of Learning on Sunday 17 June at Springvale Cemetery.


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©Lou Szymkow 7/2/2017

The air is still
The birds are silent
My loved one has gone
but my heart, is defiant
My soul is in wreaking pain
as I blindly seek for you in vain
You were taken from my now empty arms
I yearn for you, and all of your charms
My life must go on; Please, why are you gone!
Come back to me
Come back to me
You were my life, my only destiny.

I fall to my knees
My heart about to burst
What is this pain, this despicable curse
How do I survive,
when I myself no longer feel worthy to be alive
Why has the sun so dimmed, how have I so sinned

That I should deserve to be so empty and bleak
I’ll rest here in your casket’s shadow, I’m so lonely and so weak

Words have been spoken but none fell to my ears
The curtains have closed and a friends’ arm appears
I rise to my feet, still so empty and so very weak
I struggle to walk, I don’t want to hear them speak,
I must go through the motions of living you know
But this pain will remain until I myself go,
Go to that place where we shall always be together
That mystical place of forever and ever.



Our lives are all so different
So it's how each story is told
That gives a life some credit
And a legacy to behold
To reflect on the past
Share treasured memories that last
Is all that comfort can be
To hold those who are dear
In our hearts so they're near
While grieving and lonely is key
When my brother died we wanted no lies
Nor to embellish the facts
He meant well we know but right from the go
Left hurt, heartache and mess
We were so worried how this could be done          
The celebrant was given the facts
And low and behold when his story was told
Gave it meaning with substance and tact
A celebrant presents the story of a life
with caring and compassion
Understanding and thought, help and support
Then delivers it in that fashion
What lives in the mind is surely to find
All went with dignity respect and humour
To find a good celebrant right smart and kind
Is most important and the better the sooner

Which Funeral Celebrant?                    by  Rob Hughes

A funeral doesn’t bring a sense of happiness and fun,
Instead, it fills the mourners’ hearts with dread.
Because the notion that exists within the minds of everyone,
Is that a person whom they cared about is dead.

We know life’s not forever, you can’t last eternally,
And in our ‘daily grind’ we turn the other cheek.
But way down deep we understand you die eventually…
In years, or even decades… not next week!

When loved ones go, their families seek help from those who know
How to deal with the ‘arrangements’ and the grief.
They crave a funeral celebrant to talk with them and show
How to find peace, consolation and relief.

But celebrants abound when you go searching on the ‘net,
There’s so many that it’s difficult to find
One who’s sensitive, compassionate, considerate and yet,
There’s one way to ensure great peace of mind.

Just click onto the website of the FC double A,
Their celebrants have everything you need
To organise a warm and fond farewell in such a way
To give you total satisfaction.  Guaranteed!                ©2016

Rob Hughes - Sydney based Funeral Celebrant. See our Celebrant Directory for more information



By Jan Phillips, ACT Funeral Celebrant.

I love the act of writing and performing funeral ceremonies, and in Canberra, we have so many interesting people that when it comes time to say goodbye to them one is spoilt for choice with the amount of stellar achievements they have made over their lifetime to recognise in the writing of the ceremony.
This funeral was no exception. We held it in the Garden of Norwood Park Crematorium and as you will see Forest Gump helped me along with his friend Mimosa.
Both Llamas are for therapy so they visit Hospices, aged care and childhood facilities bringing their special brand of calmness and delight. They do eat the roses, so if someone has a bunch about them beware there are Llamas ready to help themselves to a fragrant snack.
Toscan Dinn, the funeral directors, embrace whatever the client wants so working for them is a great pleasure.  We also had a baby kangaroo in a pooch that could not be left by his carer at home, sitting with the mourners.
What a wonderful way to say a last goodbye in a beautiful garden surrounded by friends two legged and four legged!


Why Plan Your Own Funeral?

Funeral Celebrant Ron Egeberg says the answer is simple, “so as to give your loved ones peace of mind, at what will be one of their most difficult of times!”

Today it is essential to have a will.  This document clearly instructs your chosen executor how to distribute your assets.  Enduring Powers of Attorney, both Financial and Medical, also give trusted family members or friends the power to act should you become unable to manage your affairs.

This is the same for your funeral.

Whilst it is not something we like to think about, planning your own funeral means taking responsibility for your death.  It also means that your loved ones are given peace of mind.

Losing someone you love is tragic and their death creates an emotionally intense time for those concerned having to come to terms with that person’s passing. 

With such emotions running high it is difficult and upsetting for them to have to make funeral arrangements, and are not matters they want to particularly turn their attention to in the first few days of their grieving.

Knowing that you have planned your own funeral in advance therefore gives your family and friends some solace and peace of mind, allowing them to work through their grief and reflect on and celebrate your life.

When you plan your own funeral you are stating your preferences for your farewell.  In the plan you can state what you want done with your remains in terms of whether you want to be buried, cremated or have your body donated to science.

If you choose to be buried you can select your own burial plot or mausoleum (above ground tomb) and whether you would like to be placed in a coffin or casket.  If you would rather be cremated you can choose where your ashes are to be placed or request that they be scattered in accordance with the state’s laws.

Planning your own service will ensure the guests honour and remember you the way you would like them to.

Unfortunately, most funerals are hastily planned after the person has died.  It’s done by family members or friends who are grieving the loss of someone they love, and not knowing how the deceased would like to be farewelled, sadly, adds to their grief. 

Like with your will, planning in advance will make sure that your loved ones are aware of your preferences for your funeral.  As you may also be aware there are also prepaid funeral plans available through funeral homes.

How to go about planning for your funeral

You need to leave specific funeral instructions in a document that is separate from your will or trust.

These instructions should include details of whether you:

  • have purchased a burial plot and at which cemetery
  • want to be cremated, and, if so, where you would like your ashes to be stored or disposed of;
  • want a public or private funeral followed by a graveside committal or no committal and where these are to take place
  • a private burial followed by a memorial service and where it is to take place;
  • want a gathering of family and friends after the funeral or memorial service (a wake) and where that is to take place;

Talk to your loved ones about your funeral wishes.

Your discussion with loved ones will go a long way to easing stress and anxiety during a difficult time and provide them with details of the arrangements you would like to take place for your funeral and the disposal of your body.

At the time of your death it is important that you not only have your affairs in order through your will but also have details of your funeral arrangements readily available so as to assist those that will be required to execute the arrangements and create a fitting farewell for you that is in accordance with your wishes and will provide some comfort to loved ones suffering at your passing.

Please go to my website and download a free guide to planning your funeral.

It will guide you through the details you need to provide to ensure your final wishes are known to your loved ones.

You should revisit this from time to time to revise it as circumstances change, treating this as ‘your living funeral plan’.

It is right and fitting to leave this information for the people you love and care for.

Also ensure the executor of your will is advised of your funeral arrangements and has a copy of your funeral plan.

About the Author - Ron Egeberg is a Funeral Celebrant based at Ballarat, Victoria. For contact details see our Celebrant Directory page


First for Green Burial

A BRISBANE funeral home has conducted the state’s first natural burial at a ceremony last month.

Swanborough Funerals held the funeral for Rocklea woman Tami Turner, who was a passionate advocate for the environment.

She was buried inside a wicker casket, a biodegradable material which will eventually decompose.

The burial took place at the state’s only green burial site at Alberton Cemetery on the Gold Coast.

Funeral director Esther Swanborough said it was a much more eco-friendly, smarter way to bury people in the future.

“Once a cemetery becomes full, the land cannot be used again,” she said.



Confronting the shadows

Planning for the end of life is not an easy topic to broach with your family, but for one woman, doing so brought her peace.



Information from the Office of Fair Trading


A well known Tasmanian speedway legend was farewelled with his coffin leaving the service on the back of a Mack truck. Neville Harper was regarded as one of the state’s best speedway stars, having twice won the sport’s Brownlow Medal equivalent, the Jacko Award. Many friends donned racing shirts to pay tribute to their friend.
And five of his closest racing mates participated in a sports style interview as part of the service.
Another Tassie farmer wanted his mates to take his coffin on the back of his old Ford ute while they fed his cows, enroute to his burial. His mates obliged.
Today, more and more people are detailing their funeral wishes in preparation for their death, according to Joy Allen from Funeral Celebrants Association Australia.
“Such tributes and send offs are important for both family and friends,” she explained. “A meaningful funeral can go beyond the traditional readings, prayers, music and eulogies.” 


We have all heard comments like ‘John would have loved his funeral’ or ‘it’s such a shame John wasn’t alive to hear and see this.” Now John and others can enjoy and participate with the staging of a Living Farewell – the celebration of the life of a person with them there, centre stage, to share it with family and friends.
A Living Farewell gives the person suffering a terminal illness, the chance to bid farewell to family and friends in a relaxed and happy atmosphere. For family and friends, A Living Farewell can make the grief process a little easier when they reflect that their loved one celebrated their life one last time with family and friends in a way that they wanted.

“A Living Farewell is equally as important for the one who is terminally ill, as it is for their loved ones left behind,” according to the Funeral Celebrants Association Australia spokesperson Joy Allen.
A Byron Bay identity decided to hold a Living Wake, which he titled his Awakening, when he discovered he had months to live. The event included much joke telling and even pole dancing. In his words ‘I’ve never had so many people wanting to dance with me and kiss me, he said afterward. It was one of the best nights of my life. ‘

And apparently those closest to him said that he would have also approved of the party after his death - a procession where friends passed a decorated rugby ball – containing his ashes – between them, all the way to the pub.

Another example was the Hon Dr Reginald (Spot) Turnbull, former Senator for Tasmania and former Mayor of Launceston. He indulged in a series of Living Wakes because he said he would not spend money on parties he could not attend.