Humanist secular funerals
The death of a parent, partner, or close relative or friend, can be a new and bitter experience. It is hoped that time will eventually soothe the grief, but the immediate feeling of shock and loss demand an expression of appreciation of the life of the deceased.
The funeral should be at a time and place when family and friends can openly express and share their sadness. It may be the last opportunity for everyone together to focus their thoughts on the life of the person who has died.
A Humanist secular funeral tries to capture the essence of the deceased’s personality, so that it will be remembered as an occasion which uniquely and affectionately honoured the life that has ended. The ceremony is secular so it does not include hymns or prayers. This can be particularly appropriate if the person who has died did not have a religious view of life and of death, or if members of the family and close friends differ in their religious views. In such cases a Humanist ceremony can bring warmth and meaning for everyone.
The ceremony can be quite simple, each is different and highly personal, so it is helpful for the officiant to get to know as much as possible about the person who has died. Family or friends may wish to participate by reading a short prose passage, or a poem, or to contribute their own reminiscences. The ceremony usually includes a short period of silence, which the officant will introduce as an opportunity for personal meditation or, for those with a religious faith, private prayer.
A Humanist funeral ceremony is both an appreciation of the deceased’s life and a way of bringing consolation to those whose lives are touched by the loss.
Our Humanist officiants come from a variety of backgrounds and are men and women who empathise with those experiencing the changing fortunes of life. This, and their experience as officiants, enables them to be sensitive to the distress and the feeling of vulnerability felt by bereaved people.
The officiant will wish to meet and talk with those responsible for arranging the funeral and to the deceased’s family and friends closely affected by the death. The officiant is paid a fee, similar to that charged by clergy, and this is arranged by the Funeral Director, who handles the payment.
Music can speak directly to our emotions and is often a poignant way of reflecting the personality of a person who has died. Modern crematoria have sound systems for playing audio-cassettes and sometimes compact discs, allowing freedom to choose appropriate music.
People often provide their own recordings for use by the officiant - anything from classical music to modern jazz.
Funerals in the UK
The Funeral Director will deal with all the practical arrangements about the funeral and will initially contact the Humanists about the date and time arranged for the funeral.