Thematic analysis map

Before I became a funeral celebrant, I worked at the University of Dundee in the Clinical Trials Unit (TCTU). My work was mostly IT based but it was an excellent grounding in how modern research works. A lot of clinical research is quantitative but the qualitative aspects of our trials always interested me. Quality of life measures, interviews, even the narrative aspects of adverse events.

I left TCTU in 2019, but a year later I enrolled on a masters degree at Glasgow University and this has sharpened my interest in research. In the final year of the course I carried out a piece of qualitative social science research. My dissertation focussed on a shift from clergy- to celebrant-led funerals in Scotland. I carried out interviews of my peers and I analysed these with a technique called thematic analysis. You can download a summary of my findings below. I explored issues such as secularization, personalization in funeral rituals, and modern concepts of spirituality. I looked at how the celebrant stands in a tradition of story-telling and how the role of the storyteller remains powerful in the modern funeral. And I also explored ideas of emotional labour in relation to the work celebrants do with families and friends throughout the whole funeral process.

Now that Ive graduated, I am actively looking at new research opportunities. I’d like to continue to explore some of the themes I worked on during the MSc. These include:

  • Extending the work I started in my dissertation by examining the “celebrant shift” from the perspective of bereaved families
  • Exploring the impact of personal grief and loss on those who work in the field (celebrants, funeral directors, crematorium staff), especially those working independently or in small businesses
  • Investigating the potential impact of proposed assisted dying legislation on funeral professionals in Scotland
  • Exploring the impact of long term care especially at end of life on LGBT elders

I would welcome any enquiries regarding possible research, consultancy, and collaboration opportunities especially with funeral directors, end-of-life doulas and academics – you can contact me here. Or just call me on 07712 892479.

Michael Hannah, Dundee, June 2024