A Place to Go: Why Ceremonies Matter

Ceremonies Matter - Linda Stuart

Click here to see Linda’s Speaker Highlight Reel: 


Do we underestimate the power of ceremony?

Studies tell us that people want their end-of-life ceremony to be transformative. They want a creative ceremony that focuses on their life story, not their death story. They want their loved ones to feel deeply connected to each other and to other survivors.

Yet too many families walk through the doors of funeral homes with the request of “nothing.” Or perhaps they do opt for a funeral, but end up feeling nothing because it lacks depth and meaning. Whether families choose no ceremony or a cookie-cutter funeral that leaves them and their guests cold and empty, an opportunity to impact all who attended has been missed.

We have seen a significant shift away from traditional funerals in North America. The term “Celebration of Life” has been widely embraced but, for many, this phrase suggests that we replace funeral ceremonies with celebratory parties. These concepts don’t need to be mutually exclusive. It is possible to have a “Celebration of Life” that includes meaningful ceremonial and ritual elements, along with storytelling, connection and, yes, even laughter. A good ceremony allows space for all emotions to be felt.

In a well-crafted and well-delivered ceremony, whether in a chapel, graveside, golf course or beach, the words spoken, the feelings evoked, and the symbolic rituals enacted have the potential to transform every single person who attends that ceremony.

In this presentation, Life-Cycle Celebrant Linda Stuart outlines how and why we should help families create heartfelt, rich, and unique ceremonies. After this presentation, audience members will:

  • Appreciate why ceremonies and rituals are important in our lives
  • Recognize and understand the elements of good ceremony
  • Gain confidence in their ability to be more involved in the ceremony process and its outcome
  • Know the questions to ask a family to ensure a good fit with the chosen officiant
  • Learn how to transform an ordinary funeral experience into an extraordinary one
  • Understand how to better serve the “We don’t want anything” families.

This presentation is 50-90 minutes long, depending on your needs.

What People Are Saying:


“Linda was a huge hit with our membership! Her having firsthand, intimate experience within funeral service was helpful in building rapport, but it was her gentle spirit, fresh perspective, and open heart that connected with our members engaging them to become better caregivers focusing on meaningful, value driven experiences for their families!” ~ Andy Clayton, CFSP, Executive Director, Indiana Funeral Directors Association (IFDA)

“Beautiful, transformational, inspiring – that is the essence of Linda. She touched me deeply with her truth message about celebrating life through meaningful ritual. I will take away that funerals are a gift to those you love. And that done well, they can be a true, powerful and loving reflection of who you really are. Linda, you almost made me look forward to my own!” ~Louise Le Gat

“Linda has spoken at our annual conference on numerous occasions presenting relevant and insightful information to funeral and cemetery professionals. Her inspiring presentation “Ceremony Matters” was passionately delivered and received excellent feedback from those who attended our 2016 conference at the Deerhurst Resort in Ontario. Linda has a rare gift that instantly connects her to her audience. Through her well thought out words, Linda clearly articulates how important ceremonies and rituals are, particularly in a world where there is a trend that families may think they want “nothing”. Linda is always a pleasure to work with and look forward to having Linda back at any of our programs in the future.” ~ Jo-Anne Rogerson, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Cemetery & Funeral Professionals (OACFP)

“Linda Stuart is one of the warmest and brightest speakers with that rare combination of both refreshing content and real-life tools to bring “Ceremonies that Matter” into action within your own workplace. You will be fully engaged!”  ~ Holly Baxter Bridgers, Cincinnati, OH

“Linda Stuart is among the most inspirational and convincing speakers I have ever heard. Impassioned and articulate, her message is as clear and believable as her delivery. She speaks to not only the need for a meaningful ceremony but for the need of a quality officiant for every life-cycle ceremony. Ceremonies DO matter. We share feelings with those we love, with family, with friends and we mark these special and sometimes tragic events with ceremony and connection. Shared emotion is what builds community, and community is the centrepiece of our culture. Linda knows what MATTERS. I would listen to Ms. Stuart speak again on the same material as readily as I would listen to her speak on new material–she is just that convincing and clearly a lovely human being. She is organized, her visuals are engaging and clear and her knowledge of her subject matter speaks volumes.”  ~ Melanie Nugent, Funeral Services Student, Humber College, Toronto