FUNERALS AND MEMORIALS
I know you are likely to have lots of questions. Have a look at what I have been asked before, and please contact me if there is something I have not covered.
What is a humanist funeral?
A humanist funeral is a non-religious service that is both a dignified farewell and a celebration of life. It recognizes the profound sadness of saying goodbye while celebrating the life and legacy of a loved one.
What happens at a humanist funeral?
The celebrant will work closely with the family to create a unique and personal ceremony. A typical funeral often includes pieces of music and readings. However, the heart of the ceremony is the tribute section, which lasts up to 15 minutes and might be written by the celebrant and include a variety of tributes paid by family and friends. Time for reflection follows, then the committal, and the funeral is drawn to a close with final words of thanks. You may want to have a look at a typical structure of a humanist funeral.
Where are humanist funerals held?
Funeral ceremonies have no legal status in themselves, so you are free to hold one wherever you choose. That said, most humanist funerals are held at crematoria, cemeteries or woodland burial sites.
How do you put a funeral ceremony together?
I will meet key members of the family, often for several hours, to find out about the person that has died, and discuss options for the ceremony. I will then write a unique script based on this information and the family’s preferences.
Do you have a set script?
I do not. I am proud that each funeral ceremony I help to create is unique and crafted to reflect the individual concerned, to ensure a fitting and sincere way of remembering them.
I am not sure we could have called Dad a humanist as such, but he was not religious. Can we still have a humanist funeral for him?
Absolutely. Only a small number of our funerals are held for people who would have described themselves as a ‘humanist’ – the vast majority are for people who lived their lives without religion because they did not believe in God or weren’t clear about their beliefs.
Why do people choose a humanist funeral?
Time and time again people chose a humanist funeral because they had been to one previously and were impressed by how meaningful and personal it was. People also want a humanist funeral because they feel it will most accurately reflect the personality and outlook of their loved one, saying a religious service would have felt hypocritical or inappropriate for the person involved.
Some of the family are very religious, and I do not want them to be offended or feel excluded. Will a humanist funeral ceremony be okay?
Yes—and I know that religious people find humanist funerals just as moving and meaningful as those who are not religious.
“I am a Christian but have to say that the funeral for my husband was to his wishes and was a beautiful celebration of his life; the celebrant made it all so comfortable.”
I recognize that every funeral will be attended by guests of different faiths and none, and feel that everyone present should feel comfortable and involved. In particular, I always include a time for personal reflection which is an opportunity for those who wish to do so to pray.
I do not know any poems or prose and cannot imagine anyone wanting to read anything.
You do not have to include anything in the funeral that you are not comfortable with and that certainly includes readings. That said, there are a surprising number of transcendent readings and poems that are suitable for non-religious ceremonies. I can advise you on this and perhaps make some suggestions and will be happy to read anything you do wish to include.
How long does a humanist funeral last?
This depends on the time available (crematoria run to strict schedules, for example) but on average around twenty minutes to half an hour. If you want a more extended ceremony at a crematorium, you can book a double appointment—your funeral director will advise on this.
How much does a humanist funeral ceremony cost?
Humanist funerals are priced very similarly to other funeral ceremony providers. You can check the exact fee with me beforehand.
Do you allow any religious content?
While our ceremonies are non-religious, I recognize that there are aspects of religious reference embedded in our culture and day-to-day experiences. For example, certain hymns can remind people of their youth or even of their favorite rugby team. I am happy to include such content where it helps reflect the person, but not as an act of worship.
Do you offer memorial services?
Yes. I can conduct some memorial services held at a variety of venues. Sometimes this is for practical reasons; perhaps the person died overseas, or a very intimate funeral was requested. However, whatever the reason, a memorial service can give a family more flexibility about how, when and where they say goodbye to their loved one.
Have a question that is not answered here?
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