Humanists believe that this life is the only life we have. In the absence of an afterlife, happiness, fulfilment and purpose come from living a moral and socially responsible life by putting the welfare and ethical treatment of all living creatures, particularly human beings, at the centre of decision making. Death, then, is the end to a person’s existence and the funeral is a final goodbye.
Humanist Funeral Services
Humanist services are non-religious, allowing for a greater degree of flexibility and personalisation. Ceremonies are often conducted by a celebrant (also known as an ‘officiant’ or ‘humanist minister’), although anyone can take a funeral. As well as conducting the ceremony, a celebrant will assisting in creating and writing it, helping with ideas on music selection and readings, giving advice on practical matters and helping you create a unique and personal occasion that will reflect your loved one’s life and personality.
Most humanist funerals are held in crematoria, cemeteries or woodland burial sites, although they can be held in other locations (for example, at home). Each ceremony is unique but will usually include music, words of welcome and wisdom,
After the Funeral
There is no set format for what happens after the funeral. Often there will be a gathering at home or a local venue where refreshments are served, but you can do whatever feels right for you and the person you have lost. Alternatively, a memorial service may be held at a later date.
What to Wear
Humanist funerals tend to be less formal than religious services. There are no set requirements about what to wear, so mourners should be guided by the wishes of the family.
Charitable Donations and Flowers
It is increasingly common for mourners to make a donation to a chosen charity, in lieu of sending flowers.
Burial, cremation and donation of the body to science are all acceptable.
There are often strict rules around burials in natural burial grounds, so check with your chosen site before embalming takes place.
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