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.

Handmade porcelain cremation urns

Handmade porcelain cremation urns

Having recently experienced a death in our family, I discovered personally, when a loved one is cremated, there are countless options to hold cremated remains.

Some families may scatter them, some may bury them, some may have them made into jewellery and some may choose to keep them in an urn or another container.  These days there is no shortage of what you can use for an urn and there are choices for every taste and style.

Choosing a cremation urn may be overwhelming but when making your choice, you may want to consider

  • The cost
  • The purpose of the urn – is it for display or burial?
  • What style and look you would like.
  • Do you require a full size or keepsake urn?

* A keepsake urn is a smaller version of full size urns and are designed to hold a small portion of cremated remains.

I recently met Deb Taylor, an incredibly talented studio potter & ceramic artist, who designs and creates beautiful porcelain keepsake urns.    Not only are Deb’s creations suitable for holding ashes, but they are also stunning works of art, lovingly handmade by Deb herself.

Deb has many choices and options available on her website but some of my favourites include:

The Tealight urns.  These stunning urns can also hold a small candle which can be lit at special times.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

They can also allow you to add some lovely words or inspiration

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

There are many other designs available including heart and ring shaped urns.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

The ashes are contained within a silk pouch inside the urn, and each urn has been handcrafted with care, compassion, attention to detail and respect for their ultimate use.

Feel free to get in touch with Deb as she is happy to discuss any customisation or personalisation options that you have in mind.

Deb Taylor – The Porcelain Urn Company 

Photo Credit: Jun Chen




The changing face of Celebrancy

The changing face of Celebrancy

Almost 10 years ago when I became a celebrant, the industry looked very different to how it is today.

Many celebrants were doing this job in their retirement, as a hobby, or as an act of community service.

I knew I wanted something more.  I wanted to be different and to make this my career. I wanted couples to have choice –  I wanted ceremonies to be more meaningful and not just “cookie cutter” all size, fits all.

In the early days I tried to reach out to my fellow colleagues, as I recognised the value of being able to learn and develop from each other. My attempts to connect were unsuccessful. I felt they saw me as a threat.  After all I was their competition.

However a few years ago I met a like-minded celebrants and this was a game changer for me. All of us recognised that life is not a competition. It is about surrounding ourselves with similar people with similar values and striving to become better.


Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne


As Marriage celebrants, we are required to legally complete our annual professional development training every year.  We need to keep up to date with all aspects of our job, particularly in the last 18 months with the changes around marriage equality.


Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

Each year we get together at an annual conference for the Celebrant Society, to fulfil our Ongoing Professional Development requirements.

But we also attend a number of workshops lead by some of my colleagues who have a lot to offer in the way of experience and expertise, discussing innovative topics within our industry.

I am truly humbled to have been invited back again this year, to host a funeral workshop.   Although, I will never claim to be the master of anything as I feel there is always something to learn, over my years as a celebrant I have been fortunate enough to be invited into the lives of many families to help them to create beautiful and meaningful ways to remember their loved ones.

Funeral celebrancy is where I feel most at home and I have done some of my best work. The families I have worked with have taught me more than I could have imagined.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne


During my workshop, I will share my experience so my colleagues can learn and help make a difference in the lives of others.



Each celebrant in this group is one of my competitors but we value “community over competition”.

We are changing lives, we are changing the industry and we are striving to be the best celebrants we can be.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne


As you can see I found my people.Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Week

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Week


“A person is a person no matter how small” – Dr Suess

This week is baby loss awareness week (9th – 15th October).  Baby Loss awareness week is held across the world for parents, friends and family to acknowledge and remember all the little babies who have died before they got to experience life.

As well as bringing awareness,  it is also an opportunity to break the silence on this still taboo subject of pregnancy and infant loss.  It’s a chance for people to talk openly about the subject of and raise awareness of baby loss and pregnancy loss.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant Melbourne


Pregnancy and infant loss is the unbearable heartache for 1 in 4 parents in Australia every single day.  That’s a frightening statistic, yet it is something that is rarely discussed.   Lets help break the silence.   Every baby loss is someone’s much wanted baby.  We imagine that baby loss, is an uncommon occurrence, but it happens every day, and chances are it has happened to someone you know and love.   Regardless of that baby’s age,  parents who have experienced their loss of their much wanted baby,  have lost their hopes and dreams for their little one.

Many years ago, women were told to go home and forget about the child that died. It was brushed under the carpet, never to be spoken off again.

Thankfully we have come along way.

Organisations such as Heartfelt and Cuddle cots provide grieving parents priceless memories and an opportunity to spend time with their baby.

For the last 3 years, I have worked with many families who have had to bear the unbearable loss of their much loved precious babies.   A funeral can be a very important and meaningful way to share in grief and say goodbye.

It can be hard to know what to say or do if someone you love has lost a child. f you know someone who has experienced infant loss, don’t be afraid to say their child’s name. And allowing them the freedom to grieve and express themselves openly, in whatever way is best for them, will be the best gift you can ever give.

Remembering all the beautiful babies whom I have had the privilege of honouring.

Sleep tight little ones…….


Fiona Garrivan Marriage Celebrant


How to decide on music for a funeral service (Part 1)

How to decide on music for a funeral service (Part 1)

Music plays a very important part of a funeral service.  It can be very emotive and it usually helps to set the tone of the ceremony.

There are no right or wrong music choices  – even if you think its not appropriate for a funeral, if it represents your loved one, then that’s all that matters.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

But deciding on song choices can be very difficult.  Often families do not know where to even start to decide on the music.

Some of the things to consider which may help make the choices easier include?

  • Do you want recorded music or Live Musicians?

Live music can include from family members, musicians, bagpipes etc….

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant

Some of the very talented musicians I have worked with at funerals over the years include.

Genevieve Bryant 

Connor Taylor Pianist 

Scottish Bag Piper

There are a number of other aspects to consider.  These include

  • The tone of the service.  Do you want the service to be uplifting and celebratory or more reflective as this will help determine the song choices.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral celebrant

  • What style of music did your loved one enjoy?   Was music important to them? Did they enjoy music from a particular era?  Who did they like listening to?

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant


There are no rules and music can be played at any stage, but as a guide we usually use music during the following stages of the service.

  • Pre-ceremony – unless music was very important to your loved one, the Funeral Director or Celebrant will often have some music that can be used as background music.
  • Entrance music – usually used to signify that the service is about to start
  • Reflection music – this can be used with a slideshow of photos or quiet reflective time during the service
  • Farewell music – this piece of music can determine the mood on how you would like the service to end.


Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant


Should you need any inspiration, I have a comprehensive list of funeral songs available as a starting point.

Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant