I'm a Fully Trained Celebrant!
People often ask me what training I have undertaken, or if I hold a qualification, and I am very proud to confirm that I hold a diploma and level three qualification in Funeral Celebrancy. Here is the journey I took to gain those qualifications....
When I finally decided that I could take the huge step of becoming self-employed (again) and, more importantly, follow my dream to become a Funeral Celebrant I did a huge amount of research.
It was a big step to take, I had been very poorly and was recovering from a huge operation, been made redundant and money was very tight (it still is)! There was no way at all that I would take this huge step without being fully informed or fully trained.
I have learnt over the years that training is a very important aspect of any job role. Even the simple act of getting together with others in your position, and having the opportunity to chat, can be beneficial. Times change, roles change, and if you don't keep up with those changes, and evolve with your role, then you are not going to be truly successful in your job.
After a huge amount of time, and energy, spent on research I made the decision to undertake my training with Civil Ceremonies. Not only would this mean that I would undertake a comprehensive training course, but there would be ongoing support and the opportunity to join the Institute of Civil Funerals. (Only those who have completed the level three qualification are able to join). I was also able to access a Student Loan; the process to access this was so simple that it took me by surprise!
Civil Ceremonies have a strong process in place for those wishing to join their courses. There is a telephone conversation in the first instance and then you submit a piece of work. Only if they are happy that you are a good fit for the role, and the course, will they accept you.
This seemed scary, and I wondered if it was really necessary, but having completed the course I now feel that it is very important. The course was intense, and the role is not right for everyone. (After all, I wouldn't be any good at all as an engineer or a pilot)!
So my journey began, and I was a student once more. A huge file of paperwork arrived and I set too, reading through everything before I started. I then worked my way through each section, reading, researching, answering questions and creating scripts etc. This was finally sent to my tutor to be assessed. I have a strong love of the English language, and can easily make one sentence into a whole paragraph, so I had restrained from waffling. I was therefore actually pleased when I was told that I needed to write more in a couple of my answers. I waffled to my hearts content, and proudly received confirmation that I had passed this first part of the course.
The second part involved a week long residential course. I duly joined 11 other nervous people, from all walks of life, having booked into my hotel room. We soon came to know the four walls of our training room, and each other, extremely well. No long evenings spent in the bar, we tended to work through until our evening meal at 7pm and then had work to read through, before we began again the next day. We all headed straight to our rooms and crashed out!
It really was intense. We didn't stop. Following tutored sessions we wrote scripts and the committal, we were video'ed delivering a ceremony, both in the training room and at a Crematorium. We learnt about the use of readings and poetry, how to conduct a graveside service and so, so much more.
We supported each other, there was frustration and face watering, jubilation and smiles. The food was delicious, but we were so exhausted we just ate and moved on.
On Friday afternoon we sat two exams. I had absolutely no intention of ever sitting an exam ever again, however it was a very necessary part of the course, and under the usual exam conditions we all kept our heads down and did our very best.
I can truly say that I was absolutely exhausted, mentally and physically. I still wasn't at 100% capacity anyway as I knew it would take me a full year to recover from my operation, and I was seven months into that year, but I certainly wasn't alone. Everyone was exhausted and drained.
However, I drove home knowing that I was fully ready and able to deliver any funeral service and I couldn't wait to get started.
A week later my certificate arrived and I joined the Institute. This membership gives me access to a tremendous amount of support, not only from the Institute itself, but also my fellow members. My membership also includes all my insurance cover.
To remain a member I have to submit records each month of the funerals that I have undertaken. The Institute contacts every one of my clients and asks for feedback. I am also assessed, whilst delivering a service, once a year. Each year I have to complete a further minimum of ten hours training or personal development.
For me all of these requirements are important. I need to be able to reassure my clients that I am competent and able, that I will give them the very best that I can, and that what I do is monitored.
Celebrants don't have to be trained. There is no legal requirement. Some Celebrants choose to complete an online course, others take a shorter three day residential. For me though, I feel that I absolutely made the right decision. I take great pride in my work, and I know that I am fully qualified to deliver the highest standard that I can for my clients. After all I wouldn't get on a plane if I knew that the pilot hadn't been trained, or had passed a course years ago but hadn't done any further training, therefore I expect my clients to have the very best that I can give. I will continue to train and develop, to ensure that my standard never falls and that my clients always walk away knowing they have given their loved one the very best send off possible.
Did my very first clients know that I had only just qualified? No they had no idea. In fact they assumed that I had been doing the job for years. Did the Funeral Director know that it was my first every service? No, they just thought it was the first I was delivering for them. Was everyone happy? Absolutely, and it gives me huge pride to say so.
I have lots of services under my belt now, each one is different, each one is unique, and each one gives me a feeling of pride, knowing that I am able to help and support a family during one of the most difficult times in their lives. I still work with new Funeral Directors now and again, and I love the chance to prove to them that my training was worth every moment of blood, sweat and face watering and that I am a fully qualified funeral celebrant who always delivers a unique service for each and every client.