Non-Religious, Highly Personalised and Uplifting,
Humanist Funeral and Celebration of Life Ceremonies
in Harrogate, Leeds and North Yorkshire
"Thank you so much for all you invested into making such a beautiful ceremony yesterday. I thought it was wonderful, and I have had lots of messages from friends and family watching online to say how moved they were.
You crafted all our memories into a narrative that was just right for Tom – gentle, easy, funny, meaningful. It felt almost as if you knew him. The whole day made us feel closer to Tom, and to each other, even those across the world, which was all we could ask for."
I'm a humanist funeral celebrant, based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, who believes that everyone who dies deserves a bespoke ceremony to mark and celebrate their life. If you're looking for someone to deliver a highly-personalised, meaningful, uplifting, non-religious funeral or memorial service, a Grand Goodbye is probably exactly right for you. Accredited by Humanists UK, I combine years of professional writing and presenting experience with a fresh outlook on funerals. I work with families to write and deliver creative, well-written celebration of life, funeral and memorial ceremonies in Harrogate, Leeds and York areas.
I don't offer a bog-standard, fill-in-the-gaps service. I listen, understand each individual story and then create a beautiful, heartfelt and fitting script delivered with an uplifting, friendly, modern and relaxed style. I work regularly with progressive and traditional Funeral Directors in the Harrogate area but can also be booked independently by families to deliver services anywhere in North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and The Yorkshire Dales.
If you are looking for a good listener, writing skills that document and reflect your loved one's story and character perfectly, and a friendly, supportive, professional, empathetic and experienced celebrant who works within the network of the national human rights charity, Humanists UK - you're in the right place!
Because I come from and live in Harrogate in North Yorkshire, 'A Grand Goodbye' seemed an apt name for the service I am offering as a humanist funeral celebrant. We only get one life (that we know about) and so it seems only fitting that we say our final farewells in a fitting way. - with love and care, respect, beauty and and element of lightness; with story-telling, emotion and in celebration of our being part of the world.
"We really loved today, you did an amazing job. Thank you for such a perfectly delivered service.
You captured our sister and our family so well."
"Thank you so much for your guidance, support, empathy and humour. And most of all for giving mum such a beautiful send-off"
"We are in awe of the brilliant script that Rachael wrote (for our daughter)."
"You have done an absolutely wonderful job, it’s so heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Losing our sister has left a massive hole in all our lives but we feel happy to be able to give her such a nice ceremony."
You may have been to a humanist funeral before or you may just be looking for someone you can relate to, who can do the honour of saying goodbye to your relative, partner or friend in a respectful but engaging way, with their story at the heart of their ceremony.
Whatever style of grand goodbye fits your loved one you can guarantee that your funeral, memorial or celebration of life ceremony will be beautiful, warm and memorable for you, your family and your friends. And yes, as well as being symbolic and meaningful, it doesn't need to be traumatic on the day. If you want it to be, it can be lighthearted and celebratory in delivery.
A humanist ceremony is everything you would expect in terms of importance and significance - but much more unique, heartfelt and flexible.
My ceremonies are story based, inclusive and because they are non-religious, they're designed for everyone to enjoy - whatever background, culture, spiritual or religious belief you and your families hold.
Each ceremony script is written fresh each time, to completely reflect your stories and memories, your loved one's personality and your/their wishes, incorporating your own thoughts and their thoughts and feelings, a choice of readings, music, contributions and a lot of love and support.
There are no rules, so while each ceremony is entirely respectful and meaningful, each and every ceremony is completely different and as far from the constraints of a civil or religious ceremony as you can imagine!
For those looking for inspiration for music and readings, I have included on my website a range of non-religious readings and poems for a humanist funeral, and a playlist of popular music and songs for a secular funeral service. Please do have a browse through. I'm constantly updating it, so keep checking for new additions.
"If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you." - Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
A Bit About the Process
No two Grand Goodbyes are the same because no two people are the same. Life stories are interesting and incredible, whatever path has been trodden and however long a life's journey has been. And it's important to say goodbye to our loved ones in the right way for them.
When a loved one dies, the effect of grief on family and friends can be traumatic and the last thing you need is extra stress regarding the funeral service. I'm very easy to get along with and will work with you and your chosen Funeral Director to make it as stress-free as possible for you.
Following an informal meeting (face to face, on Zoom or over the phone) lasting a couple of hours, with members of the deceased's family and/or friends, I write a completely unique script that is sent to you for approval before the ceremony. I can advise of all aspects of the ceremony and guide you in your choice of music and readings or other contributions if you need a little help.
Whether your want the funeral to be traditional or a little different, whatever style you choose, your ceremony will be written and delivered to be totally reflective and respectful of the person who has died and comforting to their family and friends..
As an experienced humanist celebrant, I will be there to support and encourage you, and guide you every step of the way. We work together to plan the ceremony, and once I have written the script, you have total editorial control of your loved one's story, readings, music and anything else you would like me to include.
" Rachael has an engaging style, which helped develop an easy rapport and gave me confidence in the process at what is a very difficult time for me and our family and friends....."
"You have been a pleasure to work with, despite the difficult circumstances, your patience and understanding are really what has made it possible."
The ceremony usually includes:
Words of welcome and an introduction to the ceremony
Thoughts and feelings about life and death
The tribute - a brief life story of the person who has died based on memories of family and/or friends
Readings, poetry, memories or reflections from family or friends
A quiet moment of reflection with music or perhaps a slideshow if applicable
The committal (the final respects)
We can also include other personalisations and/or rituals if we are not restricted to a strict time slot. (Ask for details!)
All outdoor funerals, memorial and celebration of life ceremonies or ceremonies that are held in places other than crematoriums will include optional use of my PA system and a presentation script is always included as a keepsake.
With me, you get an experienced humanist celebrant, a creative, professional writer, a professional delivery, support throughout the writing and delivery process and lots of advice and guidance in the weeks and days leading up to the funeral or memorial ceremony.
"The tapestry of life, joy and pain is ours to live but once, and not again.
When I look back upon my richly varied years, I crave no more, thankful that I have lived...... so shed no tears." Leslie Scrase