Meet the newest addition to our staff, Carrie Smith. Carrie is a licensed social worker, grief counselor and Celebrant. Many are unfamiliar with the term Celebrant and what exactly it entails. Read Carrie’s story below to find out what exactly a Celebrant is and what they do.
Q: Would you like to start off by telling us a little about yourself?
Carrie: I am married with 4 children and so you can guess that life is crazy for me! I love and embrace my role as wife and mother and additionally, I wear many hats in the course of a day! I am also a licensed social worker specializing in grief counseling with children and adults. I also teach in the graduate social work program at IUPUI, and of course I am also a Celebrant!
Q: Many people don’t know exactly what a Celebrant does. Can you explain a little about what you do?
Carrie: A celebrant is a trained professional who works with a family to prepare, coordinate, and organize a personal and meaningful funeral or celebration of life for their loved one.
Q: Who or when would someone want to use a Celebrant?
Carrie: Celebrants can be used for any family…even when a clergy person has also been appointed. Families choose to have a celebrant for many reasons, i.e., their loved one did not belong to a particular church or identify with a faith or religion… but often it is because they want to have a truly meaningful funeral experience for their loved one…by incorporating music, pictures, videos, mementos, stories, etc…my goal as a Certified Celebrant is to truly honor and memorialize the life of the person who died.
Q: What are the benefits of using a Certified Celebrant?
Carrie: The biggest benefit is that the Celebrant will tailor the funeral for your loved one…it is custom made. There is no “canned service” but instead a personal, unique service that best represents the life of their loved one.
Q: Can you describe the process when meeting with a family to prepare for a service?
Carrie: I usually spend 1-2 hours with a family in order to prepare for the service. This time is essential in getting to know their loved one…and listening to the wishes and desires for what type of service will best help them meeting the goal of representing and honoring their loved one’s life. We discuss their loved one’s life…from birth to death…taking note of those events in his/her life that defined what kind of person he/she was. The family shares their favorite memories, tells great stories, shares pictures, and special mementos of their loved one. This helps paint a picture for me of who he/she was. We discuss music, prayers, poems, and whether there are friends or family members who may want to also speak about what the person meant to them during the funeral service. My job is then to pull it all together and tell the story.
Q: How did you become a Celebrant? What inspired you?
Carrie: Unfortunately, I have attended some very “bad” funerals. I walked away shaking my head and saying, “that was nothing like him!” or “that was not at all meaningful.” With my grief and loss experience, I had this nagging feeling that unfulfilled funeral experiences were having an impact on the way in which families grieved. In my heart, I knew that if families could experience a personal, meaningful, and unique funeral for their loved one, it would set the stage for healthy grieving, coping, and healing.
One evening, I was doing research on grief and loss and came across the Insight Institute where I received my Certified Celebrant training. I signed up for the next training and was on my way! The training class was excellent in preparing me for my work as a Celebrant.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in working with Crown Hill?
Carrie: The diversity of families served. I love learning about various cultures, traditions, religions, rituals, customs, etc. which define a person’s life. I am proud to be part of the family here at Crown Hill because of the outstanding reputation in taking care of families we serve along with the commitment to giving back to our community.
Q: What has been your most memorable or rewarding moment as a Celebrant so far?
Carrie: Probably my first funeral was the most memorable and rewarding so far. It was a sudden, tragic death and the deceased had a very large family and many, many friends. It was very emotional…very somber. I was present as they said their final goodbyes at the casket and that was truly a sacred moment I was honored to be a part of.
Each of the services I have provided have had their own unique flair…it truly is an honor to be invited in by a family to offer this service as a Celebrant. Professionally speaking, being a Celebrant is my favorite hat to wear! I am proud of the work I do!
We are proud to have Carrie on board! Carrie is joining our other Celebrant, Mel McMahon. If you have any questions about our Celebrants please contact us at 317-925-3800..