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Canterbury Funeral Celebrant - Beverly Shepher-Wright
Canterbury Funeral Celebrant - Beverly Shepher-Wright
Canterbury Funeral Celebrant - Beverly Shepher-Wright


None of us plan to die today – but when that time comes it is very important that our loved ones know and understand what it is we wanted as a final remembrance, our way on our day. 


Most importantly don’t be rushed or feel like you are being rushed. Take your time. Here in New Zealand, we have one of the shortest time frames between the death of our loved one and the burial or cremation. In many countries, loved ones aren’t buried or cremated for weeks, sometimes months, and while I am not advocating this at all, it goes to show that taking a bit of extra time if you need it is quite okay.


Where To Begin

Give me a call and I can assist you from the beginning.


Need To Know

You don’t have to use a Funeral Director or if you decide to, you can ask them to provide you with certain parts of their service only. Some may do this others may not, but if you and your family want to undertake certain tasks you are legally able to do most things yourself.


You do need a signed certificate of death and a lawful place for the burial, but you can have your loved one at home, undertake the task of transporting them their final resting place. You may wish to conduct the ceremony yourself or with a celebrant, it’s all up to you and your family. Often the deceased is taken directly to the Crematorium. 


Of course, many people find it easier to contact a funeral company – but you can still have an input into how it all comes together.


The Ceremony

Discuss what you would like with me, together we can organise music and readings that again will reflect your loved ones life. Recently, I went to a funeral where the final piece of music was of a speedway rider going around the track on his bike. It was particularly poignant as this was the life the past one led for many years, and they left the ceremony with the coffin on the side of a Harley Davidson Motorcycle.


The ceremony, should reflect all of your emotions, don’t be afraid to use a bit of humour, it often helps. Consider where you hold the service, some venues have a time limit so discuss this with your chosen funeral director and you may be able to move to another site to allow you to hold the kind of service/ceremony you want.



It is a good idea to ask family and close friends to jot down some notes on how they remember their loved one and decide who is going to deliver the eulogy on the family’s behalf. 


Sometimes you will have a number of people involved, especially if the deceased was a very active member of the community, groups and organisations and sometimes it’s the celebrant who will do all this for you. What is important is that it reflects the person and is all about them and what they meant to those gathered. Most importantly, make it a ceremony to remember.


Shrouds/ Alternative Burials

When you select a coffin, particularly for cremation purposes, you may need to consider just where these can be processed as certain crematoriums won’t necessarily burn certain kinds of wood etc., so I suggest you research your preference first and see what your options are.


Keep in mind that you can paint and decorate coffins to reflect your loved one. Some of the best I have seen are ones for gardeners with flowers or where messages have been written on the coffin by loved ones. There are a range of 'green' options available and if this is your preferred choice then do speak to the Funeral Director and your celebrant who can give you more up to date information as this is an evolving practice requirements and options may change.



The laying of the ashes can take place at any time in the future. Sometimes this ceremony held at the graveside is more poignant than the funeral service itself. Sometimes family members maybe in attendance that missed the funeral service, so you can make this just as special. It can be done the next day or in fact in years to come.


Once, ashes were able to be scattered almost anywhere, but now many councils and Iwi are asking for the public to respect the impact this may have on others. Playing fields, where children may play the following day is hardly appropriate nor is the scattering of ashes or indeed the burial of bodies at sea in places where food is gathered. Please be respectful and seek clearance from the local council and or Iwi. Most recently, some areas are offering the scattering of ashes from planes, family members go with the ashes and when the time is right they ashes are placed in a shoot and they are scattered over the land and sea from there. Again this should only be done with approval from the appropriate authorities.


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