Funerals and memorials

As well as being part of the grieving process, a funeral ceremony is the opportunity for friends and family of the deceased to meet together and remember their loved one with affection, and to celebrate the time they spent together. Until relatively recently, the only readily available option was a religious service conducted by a minister. These do not meet the needs of the increasing number of people with no religious beliefs, and Humanist celebrants such as myself now offer an alternative form of ceremony which will hopefully feel more appropriate.

Having decided to have a Humanist funeral, you can contact celebrants directly (through websites like this one) or via your funeral director. Should you choose me, I will arrange to meet with you, and other members of your family and friends, usually in your own home. This meeting will last one to two hours during which time you can tell me all about the person who has died, in order that I can produce a tribute which says exactly what you want it to say. I will then produce a script and check that you are happy with it.  Although I will normally deliver the tribute myself, members of the family or friends can if they wish, participate with a poem, a reading or their own tribute.  I usually ask for a copy of their words beforehand, just in case they feel unable to speak when the time comes and I can then read it for them.

Each ceremony is tailored to the needs of the family, but usually contains the following elements:

  • A welcome and a brief explanation of the ceremony
  • Favourite music (live or, more often, pre-recorded)
  • Poetry or prose readings
  • A ‘tribute’ to the deceased – can include short contributions from family, friends or colleagues
  • A time for silent reflection
  • The Committal or words of farewell
  • A brief closing section, which may include announcements concerning post-funeral arrangements.

I always remember that there are likely to be mourners present who do have religious beliefs, and the silent reflection period provides an opportunity for them to offer their prayers.

On the day of the funeral, I will conduct the ceremony, read the tribute I have prepared and also welcome other speakers who may wish to contribute.  After the ceremony I will be available on the flower terrace, and I will give you a presentation copy of the script to keep.

I have been trained and accredited by the British Humanist Association to conduct funerals.  I am covered by their Commitment to Quality and Code of Conduct.