A PERSONAL CELEBRATION
“Be accountable to yourself in whatever you do. Whether it is a success or a failure, you have to own it and continue to strive forward.”
In a field of work that most people do not talk about, Ang Jolie Mei is breaking new grounds. Having lost her father at a young age, the 39-year-old knows what it means to grieve the loss of one’s closest family member. Following his untimely departure, Jolie, the second eldest daughter among four siblings, was determined to inherit her father’s legacy in the funeral services industry and take it into a new era. From this, The Life Celebrant was born.
As a company that provides funeral services for people, The Life Celebrant aims to be the leading funeral company in Singapore and the region, says Jolie. Breathing new life into the company, Jolie is set to create milestones and mark a new era for an industry once considered by many to be taboo.
As the only funeral celebrant in Singapore and a certified funeral director (a qualification she obtained from the Mount Royal University at Mount Calgary Canada in 2012), Jolie has also organised secular funerals that focused on the life of the deceased. Among the notable innovations she has introduced to the industry, Showers of Love is a service where The Life Celebrant allows family members to participate in the bathing and dressing of the departed as part of the preparation for the wake. This has proven to be so therapeutic and popular with her clients that some requested for the service when there was another demise in the family. Other well thought-out services offered by the company extend to the attendees of the wake, including table wait services and personalised touches to ensure that mourners are ushered to the seats and properly attended to.
It was mostly out of filial piety that I joined the business, but much later, I also found my calling, in that there were many things I saw happening in this industry that I felt needed to change. I call myself an accidental funeral director because I stumbled into this, but I always wanted to be a businessperson. So in 2010 I started my own funeral company, The Life Celebrant.
The first thing you can immediately tell is that our name departs from the usual ones that often uses words like ‘casket’ and ‘funeral’ in their company’s name. We believe in telling the story and celebrating the life of the individual. One of our strengths is to take care of very detailed aspects of the funeral; we pay a lot of small attention to the details like colours, food, hobbies, music that best reflects the personality of the deceased.
Mostly funeral calls and planning. If it is a quiet day, I will have meetings with my team, or have a general meeting or lunch with our employees. I have also just launched the Chinese translated version of my English book, “Dying to Meet You”.
Live life with no regrets and leave life with no regrets. I see death so often and it’s sad that people leave with regrets. So I always encourage people to say these four phrases often: I am sorry, I forgive you, I thank you, and I love you.
I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, I get on the ground and build the foundation the way I want it before I train the trainers and hand it over. Earn your trust from your team mates and let your team mates know you are always there for them.
Be able to adapt to changes. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, demands and needs are constantly changing. Making sure your culture can adapt to change is the key to being sustainable.