Each funeral ceremony is individually written to celebrate the life of the person who has died, using music, poetry and prose readings as appropriate. The centrepiece of every humanist funeral is a personal tribute. A ceremony might be held at the local crematorium, or at a Woodland Burial Site or in a local cemetery. Some families prefer to have the ceremony at their home or some other suitable venue followed by a brief committal ceremony at the crematorium. Others prefer to have a private cremation, followed by a celebration of the deceased’s life at a memorial ceremony or scattering of ashes.
The death of a close relative or friend is always difficult to cope with. Although we may sense that time will eventually soothe our grief, the feeling of shock and loss is very real.
A funeral should help family and friends express and share their sadness. It may be the last opportunity to be together to focus their thoughts on the person who has died. The ceremony deserves to be remembered as an occasion that uniquely and affectionately honours that person’s life. It should capture the essence of their personality.
People often say how moving, sincere and fitting they have found a humanist ceremony. For the immediate family and close friends it is a comfort to have provided a ceremony that their loved one would have wanted.
When planning a funeral I will speak to the family and ideally, meet them and others affected by the death. It is helpful to learn as much as possible about the person who has died, so that the funeral tribute really captures their life and personality.
The order of service will generally consist of some introductory words, often including some thoughts on life and death. There will be a tribute either from the celebrant or from a member of the family or a friend. It is usual for there to be a reading or some poetry and there will generally be a time for reflection or quiet thought. The committal will follow and the service will end with some closing words.
The kind of funeral ceremony chosen must be right and appropriate for the person who has died and their close family. Nothing in a humanist ceremony would offend people who may be uneasy about a non-religious funeral. The idea is not to be hostile to religious beliefs, but to focus in a sincere way on the reality of the life that has ended.
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We have been lucky enough to use Felicity for a number of important family events, the most recent of which was my grandfather’s funeral. From the moment we began the planning of the event, we knew we were in safe hands. What could have been a painful process was made much easier by Felicity’s sensitivity and sheer joy in discovering more about my grandfather which gave the service itself much more of a personal feel than any religious ceremony I have attended. Ultimately the funeral itself was as close to perfect as it could have been. She conducted the service with gravitas and precision, combining the need for the recognise the sadness of the passing of a much-loved relative, but also to recognise that this was indeed a life well lived. Simply put, Felicity cares.
Thank you Felicity for facilitating or is it ‘Felicitating’ the graveside service to mark the interment of my Mum yesterday. You managed to keep Dad and Myself on track and we certainly gave my Mum a great send off. I was very impressed with the tenderness you showed us at this very sad time and your professionalism that resulted in a very polished performance, thank you.
Jo Worthington Wilde
Before the funeral, Felicity was very helpful in going through all the details and offering supportive suggestions on the timing and order of service. She also put a lot of effort into finding out about Jess, my aunt, showing a genuine interest in her life and encouraging me to talk through the funny, memorable and fascinating things about her, which was a help and comfort in itself. Felicity conducted the service with warmth and thoughtfulness, addressing the people present in exactly the right tone and manner, talking about Jess in a way that entirely captured her life and character, leaving us all with warm and happy memories. She also took charge of proceedings with a calm authority, lifting much of the burden from me, giving all who met her the impression of someone who cared about what she did, about the importance of Jess’s life and her memories, as well as being supportive to all those present at a time of inevitable sadness. Funerals are always a difficult and troublesome time, it’s hard to devise a ceremony that matches everyone’s expectations and beliefs. But Felicity made it all much easier to bear, creating opportunities for everyone present to remember Jess in their own way, leaving us all with good memories of the day.
Firstly, thank you so much for leading the ceremony yesterday with such warmth and lightness of touch. Your approach so brought everything together – it really was appreciated by both family and Audrey’s many friends from whom we have received such positive reactions.