Even the best funeral will be difficult for those involved. My role is to work with you to create and deliver a funeral or memorial ceremony that captures the essence and personality of the person who has died with warmth, honesty, dignity and affection.
“I couldn’t return home without once more expressing my personal appreciation for your help yesterday – indeed through all the planning and correspondence. You were very kind and considerate and supported us all through the difficult events of the day.The whole family felt comforted by the kind words you were able to put together.“Testimonial from brother of deceased
In summary, a Humanist funeral ceremony is designed to celebrate the life of a loved one in a non-religious manner. The heart of the ceremony focuses on paying tribute to the person who has died – celebrating what was special about the life they led and their relationships, achievements and passions. Music and poetry that is of meaning to the deceased or those grieving is also an important part of the ceremony. There is also an opportunity for a moment of quiet reflection before saying a fond farewell.
Humanist funeral services may be secular, but they uphold the Humanist principle of being inclusive. They welcome all mourners to participate in celebrating the life of the deceased, regardless of their personal convictions or beliefs.
I was motivated to train as a Humanist Funeral Celebrant following the death of my own father. At the time, I respected my mother’s wishes to choose a religious funeral for him and wasn’t aware of the alternatives. However, I felt the need to celebrate my father’s life in a way that was meaningful for me. I did this by writing and reading a tribute to him. Although difficult at the time, I drew strength from it and found it enormously satisfying. I want to be able to support other people to acknowledge important people in their lives in a way that is meaningful to them.
When I first became aware of Humanists UK’s work, I realised that I could use my skills from my career to date to help offer other people a professional, non-religious choice when it comes to arranging a funeral or memorial service.
It is an immense privilege to be invited into your life at this most difficult of times. My role is to work with those closest to the one who has died to put together a ceremony that ‘brings them to life’ in a dignified and personal manner – a ceremony that strikes a balance between history and relationships; achievements and personality; tears and smiles. The funeral usually takes place in a crematorium, cemetery or woodland burial ground.
A typical order of service for a funeral ceremony will include:
- Opening words
- Thoughts on life and death
- The tribute
- A pause for reflection
- The committal/interment
- Closing words
Some ceremonies include contributions from family or friends. The greater the participation, the richer the ceremony. Although it may feel too challenging, many people find themselves able to stand up, just like I did, and feel pleased to have done so. The decision can be left until the last minute and I will step in if necessary.
There is also considerable scope to use music, poetry, literature and other content, such as still or moving images, to portray the person whose life is being honoured. The choice is very much up to you, within the confines of the place where the ceremony is taking place and the duration of the service.
Having this choice lies at the heart of a Humanist funeral – after all, there is only one chance to say goodbye in the way that you would wish. But you should not feel pressurised to include things that don’t feel right for you, and I am more than happy to help if you are struggling for ideas.
I will be at the end of a phone call or email in the days before the funeral for advice and guidance and will ensure that the content of the ceremony is right for you, including at evenings and weekends. You need not be concerned that anything in the ceremony might offend anyone who perhaps feels uneasy about a non-religious funeral. A quiet period of silence or music is always offered for reflection or private prayer.
When it comes to the day itself, I will work with the Funeral Director to hold the ceremony together and offer support to those who have chosen to contribute. Afterwards I will give you a printed copy of the ceremony to share with those who may have been unable to attend the ceremony, or simply to look back on in time to come.
Please note that it is not necessary to hold a funeral at a cemetery or crematorium. There are many more options becoming available, such as green burial sites. It is also becoming more popular to separate the act of cremation or burial from a service of memorial. This may enable more people to participate, and offer greater flexibility of location and timing.
In line with Humanists UK’s recommended fee structure, my 2017 fee is £190 for a single slot funeral and £250 for a double slot. This is inclusive of travel within a 50-mile radius. Excess travel is charged at public service rates, currently 45ppm.
Memorial services are quoted individually and fees depend on the duration of the service, amount of preparation time and travel expenses.
I pay a fixed levy to Humanists UK to contribute towards celebrants’ training, quality assurance standards and the promotion and development of the Humanist Ceremonies network.
I work collaboratively with my colleagues in Harrogate and Knaresborough to provide a resilient service. I also network with other celebrants on a regional and national scale to ensure that my practice is informed by the work of others.
To find out more:
Phone me on Mobile: 07708 381303 (including evenings and weekends)
For a funeral, you will also need to contact a Funeral Director, who will engage my services.
“Made the day that I was dreading, not only bearable but somehow a lovely memory. My family and Mum’s friends all made positive comments and thought the service was personal and fitting.”
“My family and I were very happy with the ceremony that Cate provided for my father’s funeral. She was sympathetic, helpful and responsive throughout the whole process. Although Cate hadn’t met my father, struck the perfect balance. After the funeral a number of people commented on how good the ceremony had been. One person was so impressed that they asked us for a copy of the ceremony details.”
“Very well organised and a beautiful, calm, moderating influence on the day. Cate was very prompt and helpful in editing and correcting the ceremony drafts.”
“Cate was competent, professional, gentle and compassionate. The service was warm and personal – a fitting tribute to my partner, she would have approved.”
“Thank you so much for all your hard work. Everyone was so impressed with the service. It really made the day memorable“.
“I would recommend you in a heartbeat to people and I truly think the passion and care you deliver throughout the whole journey is heartwarming and compassionate. ”
“Throughout the entire process Cate provided a calm attentive service to our family. She was diligent in listening and responding to our wishes for a personalised ceremony. Her calm presence at the crematorium was a comfort, providing us with a lasting positive memory of saying goodbye to our mother.”
“A very warm and gentle service led by Cate allowing the family to participate and share memories.”
“Throughout the whole process of arranging the funeral we appreciated your help and calmness. We felt in safe hands. We felt the service exactly fitted [my brother’s] philosophy on life and can’t thank you enough.”
“We have had a lot of feedback from my dad’s friends about the service. They all thought it struck just the right note and was ‘very him’”