The death of a close relative or friend is often a bitter experience and the feelings of
shock and loss can be very deep. A funeral should be an occasion for family and friends
to focus their thoughts on the person who has died, and help them express and share
their sadness. But it is also an opportunity for them to celebrate the life of the person
they have lost, to express their gratitude and appreciation, and to say farewell with care
A humanist funeral acknowledges loss and celebrates a life without employing religious
rituals. It aims above all to reflect the family’s feelings for the person who has died. Tyne
Tees Celebrants know how to empathise with the bereaved, interview with sensitivity,
and prepare a ceremony according to a family’s wishes.
When planning a funeral the celebrant will normally visit the family in order to learn as
much as possible about the person who has died and to discuss the family’s wishes for
the funeral. The celebrant will then devise a ceremony and write a tribute that fully
reflects the life and personality of the deceased. The family can choose appropriate
music and readings of poetry or prose for inclusion in the service, and if family members
or friends wish to read any of these, or indeed to give a tribute to the deceased, they are
welcome to do so.
Whatever the circumstances of life and death, celebrants are not there to moralise or
judge, but to understand. They will help to plan a personal and dignified funeral
ceremony, and conduct it on the day. They also have an important role of liaison with
funeral directors and crematorium and cemetery staff.
A printed copy of the ceremony is offered to the family afterwards, for them to send to
absent relatives or friends, or to keep as a memento.
Humanist funerals have the same status in civil law as religious ones, and include
nothing that should offend anyone who has religious faith. Celebrants usually include in
the ceremony a short period for quiet reflection or private prayer. Religious people often
say how moving and enjoyable they have found a humanist ceremony. For the
immediate family and close friends it is a great satisfaction to have provided a ceremony
that their loved one would have wanted.
If a non-religious funeral is required it is important to let your funeral director
know when making the arrangements.
The content of a humanist funeral
A typical ceremony will include the following:
> Entry music. Anything appropriate for the deceased can be
> Words of welcome. This will include a brief explanation of
the nature of the ceremony.
> Reflections on life and death. Suitable readings in poetry or
prose can be selected.
> A tribute to the deceased. This is a portrayal and celebration
of the life and character of the deceased. Contributions from
family, friends or colleagues can be included.
> A period of private reflection. This is an opportunity for
private remembrance or prayer.
> The committal. This is the most solemn moment of the
ceremony when the curtains can be drawn round the coffin or
it is lowered into the grave.
> Conclusion. Announcements, thanks and a final reading can
> Closing music. Anything appropriate for the deceased can be