What’s a humanist funeral?

northamptonshire humanist non-religious funeralWhat happens at a Humanist funeral?

Death is an inevitable part of the human experience.  A funeral is a rite of passage – a ritual that is an important part of the natural grieving process.  It gives friends and family the chance to come together to remember and, when appropriate, to celebrate a life.

For an increasing number of people, religion plays no part in their lives.  They feel that to hold a religious ceremony would be inappropriate.  To refer to a ‘life after death’ goes against their own beliefs and would not be a fair reflection of the beliefs of the deceased.

These are the people for whom a Humanist, non-religious funeral is most appropriate.

At a Humanist funeral, the focus is on paying tribute to the person who has died – celebrating what was special about the life they led and remembering the people, places and events that were important to them.


What you won’t hear at a Humanist funeral

The key differences between a religious service and a humanist ceremony is that, in the latter case, there is no act of worship (the singing of hymns or saying of prayers).  Neither is there any reference to an after-life.

What you will hear …

… is whatever the family have requested.  There are usually two or three pieces of music – one to accompany the entry of the coffin, another perhaps, for a quiet period of reflection part way through and a final piece of music to close the ceremony.

You will also hear readings.  These could be poems or passages of literature.  Just as with the music, these will be pieces that have significance, either for the deceased or for the family and friends.

Sometimes the family may not be sure what to choose, in which case, the Humanist celebrant will make suggestions of their own.  Of course, the ultimate decision lies with the family.

Contributions from others

Frequently, friends or family members will want to make their own contribution.  This could be paying their own tribute, reading a piece of verse or even playing a piece of music ‘live’.

There are so many options at a Humanist funeral.  The atmosphere created may be solemn or it can be joyful.  You might hear a classical sonata or a piece of punk music.

What is guaranteed is that the ceremony will reflect the wishes of either the deceased or the family – usually both.

Not anti-religious – just non-religious

Some people mistakenly believe that Humanist funerals are anti-religious.  They’re not – they’re non-religious.  In other words, they contain no acts of worship.  Humanist funerals are inclusive – they’re for everyone.  This is why, during the Period of Reflection (usually around two-thirds of the way through the ceremony), the Humanist celebrant will announce that this is a time for those who have a religious faith to say their own private prayer – a time to pause, to take stock and to recall the good times spent with the person to whom they are about to make their final farewell.

Listen to the experience of others – what a humanist funeral has meant for them –


 Find out more …

… about creating the perfect ‘goodbye’ – call me on 07703 472207