Planning a funeral that honors the wishes of the deceased can be a real challenge, especially if the person wasn’t religious or had beliefs that ran against the status quo. In such cases, families are increasingly turning to alternative funeral officiants over traditional ministers or church leaders. In general, alternative funeral officiants are much more flexible and willing to work with friends and family of the deceased to create a service that is both deeply meaningful and personalized. Here are a few things to think about when considering whether an alternative funeral officiant is right for your situation.
If your loved one was non-religious in life, fell out of good standing with their church, or simply became distanced from their faith, it’s understandable that you’d want to avoid holding a religious service. After all – the ceremony is supposed to be dedicated to their memory. If religion wasn’t a big part of who they were, why include religious aspects?
But carrying out a non-religious ceremony is easier said than done. In many places it can be difficult to find an officiant willing to leave religion out of the services. Plus, it’s not uncommon for ministers to sneak religious references into the ceremony – even if doing so goes against the family’s wishes.
However, by working with an alternative officiant helps eliminate such concerns. Alternative funeral officiants are rarely beholden to a specific faith system and are unlikely to inject their personal convictions into a ceremony. Most will be glad to take directions from the family and plan a ceremony that closely reflects the beliefs of the deceased.
Unusual and Customized Ceremonies
Another benefit of choosing an alternative funeral officiant rather than going the traditional route is that you will likely have much more freedom to choose how the ceremony will look and feel. If your loved one was a lifelong motorcycle rider and requested a hog-themed funeral, you’d probably be hard-pressed to convince a Catholic priest to go along with the plan. That might be an extreme example (most funerals aren’t quite so creative), but if you wish to honor the life of your loved one in a unique way, an alternative funeral officiant will likely be more amenable to unconventional suggestions.
Having a Family Member or Friend Officiate
One of the most touching ways to honor the life of a loved one is to have a friend or family member get ordained and preside over the ceremony themselves. Becoming a minister might sound complicated, but it’s actually quite straightforward. Some non-denominational churches even offer free online ordination, a process which can be completed in a matter of minutes.
Whether you’re planning an all-out celebration of life extravaganza, a simple non-religious ceremony, or anything in between, it’s important to find a funeral officiant to meet the specific needs of the occasion. There should never be pressure to settle for a minister that not everyone is comfortable with; the last thing a grieving family deserves is a stubborn officiant who refuses to accommodate their wishes. And, thanks to the growing popularity of alternative funeral officiants, families finally have a choice in who they choose to lead the proceedings.