Creating a unique ceremony to celebrate, cherish and honour the memory of one who has died
“The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them.” Michel de Montaigne
“The sea of grief has no shores, no bottom; no one can sound its depths.” Primo Levi, ‘If Not Now, When?’
When a loved one dies, we may find ourselves needing to plan a funeral in the knowledge that they had no religious belief and would not have wanted a religious funeral. A Humanist or non-religious ceremony can be an appropriate and moving way to respect their values and beliefs. At the same time, the ceremony will meet our own need to come together and support each other in grieving the loss while reflecting on and celebrating the life. Each person is unique and therefore no two ceremonies are the same. If you ask me to plan and lead a funeral ceremony, it will be my privilege to offer support in a range of ways.
I will meet with you at the earliest opportunity to discuss and plan the ceremony together. We will talk about the person who has died and highlight what you want to remember about them, and how we can paint a picture of their life, their values, their achievements and their impact on others and on the world. We will consider who wants to be involved in the ceremony, giving a reading, speaking about their relationship with the person, playing music or singing a song, presenting a gift or preparing something symbolic.
This meeting is very important and usually takes between one and two hours as there is much ground to cover. It can be a really special event in itself, a part of the process of grieving as well as a preparation for the funeral. You are welcome to either come on your own or bring family members or friends with you.
Following this meeting, I will prepare a draft ceremony. This will be a unique document, crafted from your words and ideas as a way to celebrate the life of the one who has died.
I will send you a draft within 48 hours, so that you have time to consider and change it as necessary. You may well wish to talk to me again about the ceremony and you are free to contact me as often as you want to; I will be there to help and support you beforehand and I will lead the ceremony.
On the day of the funeral I will liaise with the Funeral Director, and meet you at the crematorium, cemetery or other venue. Unless you ask for a different style of dress, I will wear a dark suit with a shirt and tie. The ceremony itself will usually mix music and readings, silence and symbols, laughter and tears, memories and achievements; but above all, it will be your way of remembering your loved one.
If you would like to discuss a funeral ceremony, please contact Andy Ison in one of the following ways:
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 07522 553491 or 01423 541938
Via the Humanists UK website: http://humanistfunerals.org/andrewison
Sometimes it is not possible to have a funeral service or, due to pressure of time or circumstances, you are not able to create a ceremony that allows people to fully express their thoughts and feelings. On such occasions, a memorial service for the one who has died may be appropriate.
These services usually take place sometime after the funeral, perhaps on an anniversary or when family and friends are able to gather. This is often the case if the person died overseas, for example, or if the family chose to have a small and intimate funeral ceremony.
If you would like me to be help you prepare and deliver a memorial service, please contact me using the information above.