Doing Death Differently

Doing Death Differently

People are often surprised to learn that this is a face, in an industry that most people hope they won’t need – but unfortunately we will all need to call upon it one day – the funeral industry.

Over the last 5 years, I have watched as the funeral industry slowly changes.

Families are now rejecting tradition and a “set format and insert-a-name” funeral service.  They feel their loved ones deserve a more meaningful funeral.

Adding personal touches, such as special music, sharing stories, decorated coffins and adding personalisation helps create a funeral that is unique and not just the same “cookie cutter” style that people are familiar with.

I am honoured to play a part in this change and rise of alternative funerals, giving families choices, doing death differently and breaking down the taboo surrounding death.

Mums – get in the photos!

Mums – get in the photos!

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”  Dr Suess


As a funeral celebrant, last week I conducted the funeral of a 44 year old wife and mother of 4 kids who sadly died much too soon.

During her beautiful service, we played 3 audio visual tributes with music and photos, so many of the photos displayed were of Nadine and her children.

This got me thinking about which photos my family would use given the same situation,  as I don’t think there would be enough photos for even one photo tribute.

As a mother of 2 children myself and a keen photographer, I have 1000’s of photos but sadly very few with me in them.

As mothers we are a big part of our children’s lives but in very few photos.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

And I am not alone…. I know lots of mums who are the family’s unofficial photographer, and who take lots of photos of the family on various occasions but often find a reason not to be in the photo.

We are our own worse critic and can easily come up with an excuse “I will take the photo”, “I look too tired” “I’m in my old clothes” “I need my hair done” “I feel frumpy”

Not every photo needs to be perfect.  Social media has made us a little obsessed with making sure that every picture is perfect.  And I am guilty of deleting photos because I don’t think I look good in them.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

(This is the perfect example – I had just washed my hair and its still wet).

As Nadine’s children sat there watching their lives with their mum flash before them, they didn’t care that she didn’t have make up on, or perhaps wasn’t looking her best.   All they could see was how much she loved and adored them.  Memories that they will treasure forever.

One day, we won’t be here and the least we can do is leave our children some photographic evidence that we were there with them too.



It can be hard to savour the moment when you think there will be many more.  We think there will be a next time – but what if there is no next time.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

We really need to make an effort to be in more photos, do it for our children and how you want them to remember you.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant


Melbourne Writers Festival – A matter of life and death

Melbourne Writers Festival – A matter of life and death

Last weekend I was invited by the Melbourne Writers Festival 2018 to appear in two shows in this years programme.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne

The theme of this years festival was “A matter of life and death” and the programme included a wide variety of topics including Magda Szubanski attending her own funeral.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne


The ACMI Cube was transformed into a funeral parlour with a focus on topics of mortality.

During the first session I was invited to present was titled the “Final Page” and I co-hosted along with two lawyers on writing your will and penning your own eulogy.


Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne


During the session, I discussed the value of writing your eulogy and how this can benefit those left behind.


Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne

Photo Credit Dying to know Day.

During the second session, which was also held in The Cube at Federation Square, I was invited to be on a panel along with holistic funeral director, Libby Maloney, and Rabbi Noam Sendor, to learn about different Rites and Rituals for the dead.

We shared our experiences and opened the floor to an discussion about some of the practices around death and the dying process.

Both sessions opened up some rich thoughts and great questions.

I feel extremely privileged to have been invited to take part in such an amazing and wonderful event.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant 




3 years and counting…….

3 years and counting…….

Today marks 3 years since I conducted my first funeral.  I will always remember it as it was for a little beautiful baby girl who was born sleeping.

What an incredible 3 years it’s been.  I never imagined when I became a celebrant, that this career would take me on this path. 

It is the most rewarding and humbling experience to remember those who have died and support those who grieve. 

My families often remark that I don’t look like a someone who works in the funeral industry.   And thanks to the support of all the industry partners I work with, we are working together to do death differently and with dignity. 

I am fortunate enough to work with some of the best people in the industry – who do this job with real heart and compassion. 

And I feel eternally grateful to each and every family, I have the privilege of looking after during such a difficult time in their lives. 

Sleep peacefully baby Winter. 



What role does a funeral celebrant play?

What role does a funeral celebrant play?

Organising a funeral service may be a very difficult and daunting task.  You will want to be reassured that you are supported by the best team available, to create a fitting farewell for your loved one.

Until you are faced with the difficult task of organising a funeral, most people do not know what is involved, what a funeral celebrant is or what they actually do.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral celebrant Melbourne


Funeral Ceremonies involving a celebrant very often have a very different feel to religious ceremonies.

Funeral celebrants will work closely with families to create a beautiful ceremony with particular emphasis on personalising the ceremony through the use of words, rituals and music.

There is no set format with endless options to be able to create a very meaningful and special ceremony to honour a love one.

The celebrant can lead the service or play more of an MC role and this will be determined by how much you would like them involved.


Fiona Garrivan Melbourne Funeral Celebrant

Funeral celebrants are usually highly experienced, supportive and professional.  They are creative and have many ideas so you can avoid the service feeling like every other funeral you have been to.

Very often a Funeral director may suggest a recommended celebrant. However you are not obliged to use the celebrant suggested/offered by the funeral director.

It is very important that you find a celebrant that you trust to create the service that you and your family would like to work with.

So regardless of where you chose to conduct the service, you will want someone who you get on easily with and who can help you create a ceremony that truly reflects the personality of your loved one.


If you would like further details on what a funeral celebrant does please do not hesitate to contact me.


Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne