Sara Brown feels called to love others as a funeral celebrant.

Funeral celebrant guides loved ones through times of grief

Sara Brown finds God’s unique calling in her chosen profession

MILTON, ON—When Sara Brown conducted the funeral service for an atheist woman, Brown wasn’t able to mention her Christian faith.

However, says Brown, “As we were walking from service to the grave the [woman’s] husband looked at me and said, ‘I just feel so much lighter now. I feel like a burden has been lifted.’ …I don’t ever have to say the words ‘Jesus’ or ‘God’ I know He is at work through me.”

Brown says she didn’t expect that when she reached her mid-30s she would find herself in her current role as a funeral celebrant, helping to plan and implement custom funerals for grieving families and friends.

Typically those who ask a funeral celebrant to do a service have little to no faith background or had a poor faith experience. The job can be as diverse as the people who need the services.

Brown has been serving as a celebrant since February 2014 and has performed small intimate and solemn services by candlelight to large-scale, flamboyant celebrations. Each service is by definition non-religious but for a Christian like Brown it is a huge opportunity to love and serve others.

Originally trained as an elementary teacher, Brown spent a lot of time speaking to kids, teens, and adults about social issues and her faith over the years. Eventually she became a stay-at-home mom. Making ends meet was difficult, however, so Brown started to look for work outside the home.

“A friend told me about working for funeral homes. She was a hostess for funerals which, in her words, was ‘I serve tea to grieving people’,” says Brown who was immediately intrigued by the possibility of working at a funeral home.

“I am a great listener…I thought maybe this was a place I could try that.” That, combined with Brown’s public speaking experience and love for people, led to becoming a funeral celebrant.

With more than 50 funeral services under her belt Brown says she knows this is exactly where God has called her to be. “I'm in my mid-30s and I finally know what I was made to do. It puts together my gifts of event planning, compassion, public speaking, and writing.”

Brown’s business comes through recommendations to families who have no connection to pastors or ministers but still need assistance with a funeral. Despite being unable to outwardly express her own beliefs, Brown says her faith still gives her the tools she needs to love and serve people as they grieve.

She focuses on the times the deceased truly loved and encourages those attending a funeral to take time to love others the same way. “I really believe if you encourage people to love and God is love, then they can meet God through that,” she says.

“I thank God for His grace to show people genuine empathy in their grieving state and help them on their healing journey. It means everything to me.”


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ChristianWeek Western Correspondent

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