Fed up with boring funerals that express nothing about the personality or the life of the deceased? Aging baby boomers are.
Many are rejecting traditional services in favor of customized funerals, performed by celebrants, that can range from a ceremony including a PowerPoint presentation to using a tractor trailer instead of the traditional hearse.
"As we have seen in everything else that's taken place in our society, baby boomers came along -- people like me -- and said, 'We're going to do things differently. We're going to break the rules,'" Glenda Stansbury, the dean of the In-Sight Institute in Oklahoma, said in an interview.
"Historically, funerals have been pretty cut and dried."
But Stansbury, whose institute has trained more than 1,200 funeral celebrants across North America, said the baby boomer generation is about making life events and experiences that are personal and meaningful.
"Ultimately that started to eat at the edges of the funeral experience as baby boomers got older and started either burying their parents or having their friends die," she explained.
For Sandra Bell-Buttars, a funeral celebrant in Cobourg, Ontario, it meant officiating at a ceremony in which the urn containing the remains of a woman who had worked in a trucking business was taken away in a tractor trailer.
"She was in the front seat and this was her happy trails. She was having her last send off ride in this huge big rig," said Bell-Buttars.
The concept of modern-day celebrants began in Australia and New Zealand a few decades ago. The ideal of celebrancy is that the client's beliefs and values are paramount and the celebrant's beliefs are immaterial.
A funeral celebrant can be an alternative to a priest or minister for people who have lost touch with their religion or who simply want something different.
Celebrants talk to family members to learn what can be incorporated into the service that would convey the loved one's personality. They also urge families to participate and to have ownership and a say in how lives are celebrated.
"We find that in doing that sort of work, we haven't had to offer as much in bereavement support group follow-up," said Bell-Buttars, who fears that if people are not aware of alternatives to traditional funerals they will chose to have nothing.
Her decision to become a celebrant was influenced by her father's death and funeral. She felt something was missing in the ceremony.
Fees for funeral celebrants can range from $200 to more than $800 depending on the type of service, location, travel and other expenses, according to In-Sight.
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）