Humanist Funerals

A humanist funeral is an appropriate way of saying goodbye to someone without religion

“I have been asked by all to send you a thank you for the sermon you put together which was spot on, as I said after the service to you, all were impressed,  as most we have been to get a lot wrong, my mother’s Funeral was 50 % right he could not have been listening when we went through the information, we were please you did. All the very best don’t take this the wrong way but hope we don’t meet too soon.” PM, York

Humanist funerals have been conducted since 1896. A humanist funeral is a non-religious ceremony (service, if you like) that is both a dignified farewell and a celebration of a life. If the deceased lived his or her life without religious belief, a humanist ceremony may be the most appropriate choice.

We recognise the profound sadness of saying goodbye, at the same time as the importance of celebrating the life and legacy of the loved one.

Whether you have found me directly, or been recommended to me by your funeral director – or indeed by another celebrant, I will arrange to meet with you as soon as possible. Please feel free to invite other family members or friends, anyone who knew the deceased and can help me paint  a picture of his or her life and times.

I ask that you have a photograph of the deceased for me to look at during the meeting, if at all possible. We will talk about his/her life and achievements, likes and dislikes, favourite music, memorable events – all the things that made the person. We will consider the ceremony itself, whether family members or friends wish to contribute by giving a reading, what music to have (if any, it isn’t compulsory) and so on. This meeting usually takes ninety minutes to two hours.

Once I have drafted the ceremony I will email it to you (or we’ll find some other solution if you don’t use email) so that you can check it’s as you would like it. Please feel free to suggest changes – the ceremony is about the deceased and family, not me. You can call me as many times as you need, it really isn’t a problem.

It is rare that we would need to meet again before the funeral, though we can if you feel it will help, and I will meet you at the crematorium/burial site/venue on the day of the funeral. Unless you ask me to do otherwise, I will wear a dark suit with collar and tie.  If you are having a cremation, ceremonies generally last no more than twenty minutes (some crematoria allow longer but, if you are having a lot of music and longer contributions from family members, we will need to talk to the funeral director about perhaps booking an extension.)

The ceremony will celebrate the life of the deceased. We will remember his or her achievements, look at the serious and lighter events that mean so much to you, hear favourite prose or poetry, and listen to much-loved music. I will, in my introduction, say a few words about humanism. If you want me to, I can put greater emphasis on this. During the ceremony there will be a minute’s silence for each person to reflect on the deceased’s life in their own way.

At the end of the ceremony I will make any announcements you wish, for example if you are having a collection, or inviting people back home or to a local venue. Before we all leave I will give you a presentation copy of the ceremony for you to keep.

My main areas are the postcodes YO, HG, LS and HU – but I will travel anywhere – including overseas – if it is practical.

I work regularly at the crematoria in York, East Riding (Driffield), Harrogate, Hull, Scarborough, Pontefract, and at cemeteries and burial grounds across the region.

You can contact me in a number of ways, whichever is most suitable for you:

Every ceremony is individually crafted, not a standard script with just the name of the deceased changed, but typically a humanist ceremony might include three pieces of music, a welcome, a tribute, time for reflection, the committal and, finally, the close.