A Funeral Ceremony in France
Planning a Funeral Ceremony in France
If you’re reading this you may well be wondering what to do about arranging a funeral for a loved one. Perhaps you’re in a state of shock and need someone’s help right now.
You may even be planning ahead for yourself.
I don’t claim to be any sort of “funeral planner” here in France, but I do have over seven years of experience of being a funeral celebrant in Wales. Now I live in France and am getting used to the system here.
Arranging a funeral can be a daunting prospect for anyone, but arranging a funeral ceremony in France is even more scary, particularly if you’ve had no contact with funerals here before. Maybe you don’t find the language easy? Or you haven’t had time to prepare yourself with the inevitable paperwork alongside the stress and sadness of loss
The following links try to answer a few questions about funerals in France, then I’ll try and explain how I may be able to help you.
The Logistics of a Funeral in France
In France you have a very small time-span between the moment of death and burial or cremation. The official allowance for making arrangements is 6 days not including Sundays or bank holidays. You must register the death with the Mairie within 24 hours and decide whether you’ll want a burial or cremation. If you want me (or any other celebrant) to create your ceremony for you, you must tell the funeral director immediately, before setting any dates or times for cremation or burial.
Here are some useful links;
Creating the Funeral ceremony
It’s important to most of us, as humans, to show how we feel about losing our loved ones with some sort of ceremony. Holding a funeral is perhaps the last thing we can do as a community for the person we love. As a celebrant, I do everything in my power to help you hold the funeral that gives you the most comfort at a distressing time.
Once you’ve contacted me about the funeral and we’ve arranged the date, I’ll come to visit you or arrange to speak over Zoom. Within this conversation you’ll tell me all about the person who’s died, letting me know what was special about them. I’ll help you decide whether you’d like some readings or music or even any little symbolic gestures to bring them to mind as well.
Then I’ll take all this information away and use it to create a completely bespoke funeral ceremony, unique from start to finish.
Where will the funeral ceremony be held?
As in UK there are two main options, burial or cremation. If you purchase a burial plot or the deceased asked for a home burial, you’ll presumably be staying in your local area.
I live in Aigne on the border of Hérault and Aude. So my “local” crematoriums are Bézier, Trèbes, Perpignan and Canet. Although some of the formalities and traditions are different in France within the crematorium, a crematorium tends to be the place of choice of Anglophones in France. .
If you live quite a distance from your nearest crematorium, you may want to consider having your ceremony at home or in a local venue, then leaving the funeral director to take the body to the crematorium or have just very close family accompany them after the ceremony.
Alternatively, if you want more time than the system allows to gather family together, arrange for a celebration of life ceremony to be held some months or weeks after the death, allowing you time to think, re-group, and be ready to reflect and celebrate in the best way for you.
Frequently asked questions regarding the funeral ceremony
Is it religious?
It’s whatever you want it to be. If you attend a church, you’ll probably want to have your ceremony conducted by a minister of religion in any case.
However, I’m not a member of the “Humanist” movement so I’m happy to pray with you or read a prayer on your behalf as well as help you choose hymns of you want them.
But no, your ceremony can be perfectly meaningful without religion at all, if that’s what you’d prefer.
Can we see the script before the funeral?
Yes, I prefer that to ensure, for instance, that I’ve got all the dates and names right. There’s a very short timespan between contacting me and the ceremony so it helps to have the information I’ve been given by you checked.
Can we take part in the ceremony?
Yes, it’s your ceremony. If you want to have funeral speakers from among your family or your friends, I can act more as an MC to give the ceremony the flow and gravitas required.
Can we have a copy of the script
Yes, in pdf or hard copy if you prefer.
Do I have to go to the crematorium?
As mentioned above, no you don’t. Your nearest crematorium may be over an hour’s drive away. So we can conduct a moving, meaningful service at home before sending the departed on their final journey in the care of the funeral director.
Finally, if you just need someone to speak to about delivering a funeral ceremony here in France, simply call me on +33 7 86 15 73 33 and we’ll see what we can do.
Why contact Treasured Ceremonies?
I will help to create a truly personal funeral ceremony that is exactly as you wish it to be. Most people want to “celebrate the life” that has been lost. However, this can mean many different things. For some, they literally want a celebratory, light hearted atmosphere. Others will find this inappropriate, and would hope for more “gravitas”. It is vital, therefore, that I capture what best suits you on this important day.
My experience in creating funeral ceremonies means that you can be confident that your Celebration of Life will allow the friends and family of your loved one the chance to say goodbye in the way most appropriate to them.
Any more questions?
If there’s anything else you think I can do to helkp you at this difficult time, call me and I’ll do my best to help you.
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837 – 1909) from Atlanta in Calyden (1865)
Where can you hold a funeral?
Most people have a simple ceremony in a crematorium. However, in Wales I have held a celebration of life in a hotel, a village hall and of course chapels of rest. Treasured Ceremonies has also been asked to officiate natural burials on private land (this has to have been requested officially by the deceased) in natural burial grounds and in traditional cemetaries. Therefore, you can choose where you hold your ceremony, and I and your funeral director can help and advise you.
What is the procedure if you use Treasured Ceremonies to officiate?
We will meet to discuss the funeral fully. If you want to create your own tribute or have friends and family giving eulogies (sometimes known as “funeral speakers”), I can act as a facilitator, and MC. Otherwise, at our meeting I will learn about the life and character of the person who has died. Following the meeting, I will write the script in full and send you a copy to approve. You can make as many changes as you like, to ensure the tone as well as content is right. I will give you a full copy of the ceremony in a presentation folder afterwards. I can make suggestions for readings and music, or of course you can provide your own.
Some celebrants are “humanist”, but I have no religious agenda. This means that you can include any words or music in your ceremony that will bring you comfort. I shall follow your lead on this completely, but can make suggestions regarding content whether it’s of a religious nature or not. Generally, I will construct a ceremony with your input regarding poems, music, prayers and so on. If you would prefer me to take complete control of the ceremony content, I will. However, if you simply need me as an MC to facilitate your content that is also fine.
My inclusivity policy ensures that the language I use, including pronouns, will be entirely appropriate
My qualification to conduct funeral ceremonies is the Level 3 Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy (QCF)
Please contact me to discuss your wishes, or pass on my details to your funeral director if you prefer them to contact me.
Let's create special memories together
Get in touch to start our journey to the perfect ceremony