"Death is a psychologically threatening fact, but when people contemplate it, apparently the automatic system begins to search for happy thoughts."
- Angjolie Mei
Commemorating loving memories
Founder & Life Celebrant of TLC
Angjolie Mei is one of a handful of women in Singapore's funeral industry. The founder of The Life Celebrant, the entrepreneur and certified funeral celebrant published an autobiography titled "Dying To Meet You - Confessions Of A Funeral Director" in 2017.
Exploring New Grounds
To appease her mother, Angjolie left to join a financial advisory firm and built a successful career, but was eventually drawn back to what she loved. She started her own funeral services company, The Life Celebrant, in 2010. A firm believer in celebrating the life of the deceased, she has sought to professionalise the industry and introduce innovations. These include a facility for family members to help dress and care for the deceased, Showers of Love. She also started the service, Angel Star, a service for the departed little one gone before their time and The Life Legacy, a service for the legacy planning.
In the year 2009, she returned to the funeral industry. She took the opportunity to travel to Malaysia, America, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, France, Japan, Taiwan, and The Philippines. This helped Angjolie widen her knowledge extensively on their different funeral cultures and brought about her motivation to reform Singapore’s essentially traditional funeral industry.
During a funeral exchange program in New Zealand, Angjolie who was one of the funeral assistants attended a family who had a funeral celebrant service, instead of the conventional religious Buddhist monk, Taoist priest, or Christian pastor ceremony.
The funeral celebrant, who was the officiant of the funeral, focused on the life of the deceased. As memories were recounted, there was laughter and smiles through tears. Angjolie found through this experience that there was immense meaning and healing power through commemoration. Even Angjolie, who never met the deceased lady, felt that she had known the deceased lady all her life. It spurred her onto getting herself certified in year 2010 in Sydney. Angjolie is the only Funeral Celebrant in Singapore.
Angjolie also discovered – through her visits to USA, New Zealand, and Australia – that funeral directors had extensive knowledge. Therefore, she decided to acquire the Funeral Directing Certificate from Mount Royal University, Mount Calgary Canada in 2012. The topics she studied included: regulations in the funeral industry, professionalism in funeral directing, conflict resolution, delicate care for the deceased’s body, and psychology of death and dying.
The Life Celebrant Journey
Two occasions deeply etched in Angjolie’s mind gave her insight to what she wanted for the funeral business, moving her towards providing more ‘software’ and care to meaningful funerals. The first being her best friend’s death when she was 12 years old. “I locked myself in my room and played the piano continuously for days, as I could not understand death when my friend died,” says Angjolie.
The second was her father, Mr Ang Yew Seng’s funeral. Having learnt first-hand as the next-of-kin, one had to play host, explain how the deceased had departed and so on, all the while trying to cope with one’s own grief. “In my eyes, my patriarchal father was strict, quiet, and seldom joked with us. But I came to know another side of him through his friends who came to the funeral. They told me that he was an extremely kind and humorous person!”
From this experience, she thought deeper into the business and discovered that the commemoration and eulogy would allow the family reprieve in enabling them to cope better and not regret his passing, as well as to help them heal their grief. Being remembered in good and meaningful ways comforts the living, honors the dead, and provides a lasting legacy of love.
The Early Days
She is the daughter of the late Ang Yew Seng, a pioneer in Singapore's funeral industry, who was known by some as the coffin Samaritan as he often donated coffins and provided funeral services for free to the needy and those without next- of-kin. The second of four children, she was educated at Ai Tong School, Yio Chu Kang Secondary School, Anderson Junior College and the National University of Singapore where she obtained a Bachelor's degree in Arts and Social Science (Major in Economics and Psychology) in 2001.
Following a first job as management trainee in a logistics firm, Angjolie stepped into the funeral industry following her father's death in 2004. She was thrust into the role of family custodian, responsible for handling finances after her father left them without a will or much savings, and with debts he had not paid off. She began to maintain her father's business alongside her mother, who disapproved of her joining the industry.