Humanist, non-religious funerals

Humanist, non-religious funerals

Maria was 43 when she passed away, when she
died and she died after a fairly short illness that turned out to be terminal. Both myself and Maria were completely non
religious. So when the funeral director came to the house he asked us what sort of funeral
we had in mind. And I had said to him that in actual fact we’d quite like a humanist
funeral. I was quite surprised when I discovered that
the first funeral I went to was my great uncle’s, that it was going to be humanist because I
didn’t know that that was an option. The funeral director made it very simple because
they already had a celebrant on their books and he contacted her for us and then she phoned
me. A funeral celebrant is really someone who’s
there to help the family give the best goodbye or farewell to the person that they’ve lost.
I have to be a rock for the family. I have to be the person that they can rely on. It was so very simple. We talked about Maria,
she took copious notes, she looked at pictures, she took away the piece that I had written
about Maria and she also asked if there were any other family members, either Maria brothers
or sister or anybody else that wanted to say anything. Family members might write a shorter tribute
sometimes which they speak themselves or which they would rather I speak on their behalf. So instead of having an order of service I
wrote a piece of poetry got a really nice picture of Maria and printed it out. I like the fact that they were focusing on
the things that they had done rather than what they were going off to do. And from what the celebrant wrote it was as
if she knew Maria. It’s my job to work out what order would be
best, so who would speak when, who speaks next, when the poems could come. The things that I most enjoyed about the services
were the music and the readings. It was very much this is what we can do, what
do you want? At my Aunt’s funeral there was a sort of moment
of reflection, as it were, half way through, and a piece of music was played then. So,
that was quite a nice touch. Everybody was kind enough to say that the
ceremony was beautiful, it was serene and that it was very inclusive. You should have the choice to have it how
you want so I think it’s great there’s a service that offers that. It’s about the person that’s now gone that
you want to celebrate. You want the best memories of that person. I can’t imagine any other institution in the
world who are used to doing things like this. Saying, “Is this exactly what you want me
to say”. It’s like, it was great.

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About the Author: Emmet Marks


  1. We had a Humanist funeral service for our dear mother, who died a year ago. It was conducted with great compassion, humour, yes humour, and sensitivity by the 'official' Humanist celebrant, if that's the correct word. What a relief and change to have a funeral in which we, the family, were 'in control', and that the service was about my mother, not about what some church official believed about 'where she is now'. A great advance for secularists and non-believers.

  2. Let's hope that the days of the 'flat-pack' funeral are numbered – you know the sort: insert name (wrongly sometimes), say a set piece and remind everyone that the deceased was a miserable sinner….The most brutal funeral I've ever experienced was a C of E one. It left a grieving mother absolutely distraught and grieving friends bewildered and angry. After attending several nourishing and compassionate Humanist funerals I decided to become a BHA celebrant myself.

  3. I'm an agnostic-atheist living in America, and I think this is awesome. All of the funerals I've attended were planned to make sad people even sadder. I want my funeral to be a celebration- craft beers, people cracking jokes, non-religious music (Radiohead, perhaps? Maybe Pink Floyd?), and dope food. I want people leaving my funeral feeling better, not worse. Death will always be difficult to deal with, regardless of the circumstance. Funerals should provide comfort, not more grief.

  4. The ceremonies are usually held at the local crematorium and the deceased buried / cremated in the normal way at the cemetery adjoining the crematorium.

    I've been to quite a few humanist ceremonies in recent years and they are always far superior to religious services,

  5. Very nice video.
    I recently attended a funeral service and was quite annoyed that it was used to taut belief in a god.  I heard the words "…and at this moment of weakness it's perhaps time to consider that comfort can be found in Jesus Christ…"
    I found the Christian service to be insulting and archaic.  So I'm extremely happy that Humanist funerals are available.  BHA Member

  6. Lovely video-thank you! One of my four wonderful daughters recently passed away from the effects of breast cancer and related brain damage – but she is now pain-free and resting in peace. The Humanist "Celebration of her Life" was one of the nicest events I will always associate with my daughter – attended by a 100 or so of her special friends and family, ending in the release of 36 pink balloons, one for each of her short but happy life.  

  7. Thanks for the Video clip! Apologies for butting in, I am interested in your thoughts. Have you tried – Diyatthew Xenarper Idea (Have a quick look on google cant remember the place now)? It is a good one of a kind guide for getting instant funeral poems without the normal expense. Ive heard some decent things about it and my best friend Jordan at last got amazing results with it.

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