A Humanist funeral gives you the chance to have a unique and personal service to say goodbye to the person you have lost. The aim is to celebrate the life that has ended, and to sincerely reflect their personality in a warm and supportive ceremony. You don’t need to be a humanist to have a humanist funeral – they are appropriate for anyone who didn’t have any religious belief, and for families who want a service that welcomes and includes everyone present, and concentrates on the person who has died.
My previous career as a veterinary surgeon means I am used to dealing with people who are worried and emotional, and sometimes grieving. My aim then was always to try and make a stressful experience as easy and comforting as possible, and the same applies now I am a humanist celebrant.
I consider it a privilege to be able to help people celebrate the life of the person they loved, and to say farewell in a fitting and respectful manner.
I may be contacted either via a Funeral Director, or directly by yourself. If I am asked to take a funeral service, I will arrange a time to come and see you, to talk about the person who has died. In so doing I will build up a picture of that person, in order to write a personal biographical tribute to them. This can include as much detail as you choose, and people often find comfort in sharing memories or anecdotes, especially the ones that raises a smile. The ceremony will often also include music, and poetry or readings. These can be personal choices, that meant something special to the person who has died or their family, but I am happy to make suggestions if required.
If there is anyone who wishes to take part in the funeral, maybe reading part or all of the tribute, or a poem, I can build the service around their contribution. The aim is to make the service just how you want it to be.
I only offer respect in the ceremonies I write, and am aware that there may be people present who do have religious faith, or to whom a more traditional service is more familiar. With your permission, I would always offer a period of silent reflection, giving them the opportunity to say a private prayer if they so wish.
After the service is completed I will present you with a copy of the script, and I will also email it to you in PDF format, so you can send it to others if desired. Every family who has a humanist funeral service has the option of placing their loved one’s eulogy on the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive: https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/funeral-tribute-archive
I pay a quarterly levy to Humanists UK which contributes towards celebrants’ training, quality standards and to the promotion and development of the Humanists UK Humanist Ceremonies Network.
I regularly perform services in West and South Yorkshire, and will travel further afield if required. Services can be held in traditional crematoria or cemeteries, at woodland burial sites, or in other venues, especially if you want a longer service or are expecting a large number of people to attend. I can also conduct a ceremony for the interment or scattering of ashes. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or want to discuss any aspect of a service.
I have also adopted the Celebrant Accord, developed by the Funeral Celebrancy Council and intended to set the standards of excellence for all celebrants.