Funerals

Each funeral ceremony is individually and sensitively written to celebrate the life of the person who has died, using music and poetry and prose readings as appropriate, and the centrepiece of every humanist funeral is a personal tribute.   A  ceremony might be held at the local crematorium, or at a Woodland Burial Site or in a local cemetary.  Some families prefer to have the ceremony at their home or some other suitable venue followed by a brief committal ceremony at the crematorium.   I will discuss the possibliites with you.  People with and without religious beliefs usually find humanist ceremonies moving and sincere and have been generous in their praise.
A celebration of the one life we have

The death of a close relative or friend may be a bitter experience for many of us. Although we may sense that time will eventually soothe our grief, the feeling of shock and loss is very real.

A funeral should help family and friends express and share their sadness. It may be the last opportunity to be together to focus their thoughts on the person who has died. The ceremony deserves to be remembered as an occasion that uniquely and affectionately honours that person's life. It should capture the essence of his or her personality.

The funeral director will deal with all practical arrangements, but it is up to you to say what kind of funeral ceremony you want.

Why choose a non-religious funeral?

While churchgoers and others committed to a religious faith usually want a minister to officiate, there is a growing number of people for whom religion is unimportant, or who have made a clear decision to live their lives without it.

For them a religious funeral service may seem insincere and bring little comfort. It may not feel the right way to say farewell to someone who did not accept the religious view of life and death. A humanist ceremony has more warmth and meaning for these people.

People often say how moving, sincere and fitting they have found a humanist ceremony. For the immediate family and close friends it is a comfort to have provided a ceremony that their loved one would have wanted.

The ceremony
Understanding the person

When planning a funeral I will speak to the family and ideally, meet them and others affected by the death. It is helpful to learn as much as possible about the person who has died, so that the funeral tribute really captures their life and personality.

Order of service

The order of service will generally consist of some introductory words, often including some thoughts on life and death. There will be a tribute either from the celebrant or from a member of the family or a friend. It is usual for there to be a reading or some poetry and there will generally be a time for reflection or quiet thought. The committal will follow and the service will end with some closing words.

Music

Music can speak directly to the emotions and is often a poignant way of reflecting the personality of the one who has died. Services usually include three pieces of music, first as the mourners enter the chapel, a quiet piece for reflection and a piece to play as the mourners leave. Usually an organist is available and most crematoria have facilities for playing CDs. I can record the chosen music for the occasion.

Locations

There are of course alternatives to the crematorium for a funeral.   Some families would prefer a burial in a local cemetary or an increasingly popular alternative is a woodland burial. It is also possible to hold the ceremony in your garden or another suitable venue and then move on to a simple committal ceremony afterwards.

Concern For Others

The kind of funeral ceremony chosen must be right and appropriate for the person who has died and their close family. Nothing in a humanist ceremony would offend people who may be uneasy about a non-religious funeral. The idea is not to be hostile to religious beliefs, but to focus in a sincere way on the reality of the life that has ended.