The Rise of Humanist Funerals

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The Rise of Humanist FuneralsThe following is a guest post contributed by Laurel Funerals:

A funeral, without a doubt, is the most personal event that a person can be associated with. While tradition once meant that people came to expect a religious service, this is no longer the case. With more people choosing not to follow a particular faith, humanist funerals are on the rise and have even recently been featured in the long running British soap opera, Coronation Street.

What are humanist funerals?

A humanist funeral is an alternative to having a religious or faith-based funeral ceremony. Designed to be meaningful and personal to the deceased, rather than focusing on religion, the ceremony instead focuses on being human.

Conducted by an officiant known as a celebrant, a humanist funeral is all about paying tribute to the person’s life. Prior to the ceremony, the celebrant will work together with the deceased’s family and friends to create a truly meaningful ceremony.

During the ceremony there will usually be personal tributes, poems and music in the place of hymns and prayers. A humanist funeral really is about giving a sensitive, accurate personal reflection of the deceased.

The humanist funeral service can be held anywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Typically services are held in crematoriums, cemeteries and woodland burial grounds.

Like any other funeral, a humanist funeral service is then followed by a committal at a crematorium or burial site.

Being human

The key focus in a humanist funeral service is honouring an individual’s life and celebrating being human. Humanists are not hostile in any way to those who hold religious beliefs. In a humanist funeral service there will often be time for a moment of personal reflection. During this time those who do follow a particular faith will be able to say a silent prayer applicable to their own religion or beliefs.

Humanist funerals on the rise

Humanist funerals have recently been brought into the public eye in Britain with the television soap opera, Coronation Street choosing a humanist funeral for one of its characters. The January 29th episode of the soap saw an accredited humanist celebrant visiting character Roy’s home to discuss the ceremony arrangements for his wife, Hayley. This exposure prompted many positive stories of viewers own experiences of humanist funerals and reflects the growing need and desire people have to take ownership of their lives.

Famous humanist funerals

Humanist funerals have not only gained exposure via Coronation Street however, in 2005, well-known comedian Ronnie Barker received a humanist funeral of note. During the funeral service held at Banbury Crematorium in Oxfordshire for the star of the Two Ronnies, a passage was read from the book, Alice in Wonderland, while numerous tributes were made by friends and co-stars. One of which spoke about his later of years of running an antiques shop and the personality he injected into doing this. Ronnie Barker’s funeral was a fitting tribute to his life and a perfect example of how a humanist funeral service is personal, sincere and heartfelt.


This article was brought to you by Laurel Funerals. By utilising our funeral planning services you too can plan the funeral arrangements that you desire.


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