No - you certainly do not have to be a humanist to have a humanist ceremony! Although many people who are interested in humanist funeral ceremonies, who have never heard of humanism before, often stumble across it, and realise that the general ethos of humanism fits their values perfectly. Humanist funeral, celebration of life and memorial ceremonies by nature are unique, highly personalised, uplifting, warm, engaging, reflective and highly memorable. They do not feature any religious or spiritual content in readings, vows or song, so are perfect for non-religious or even inter faith families who prefer not to have religious content in the Grand Goodbye ceremony..
How inclusive are you?
Very! Being inclusive and non judgemental is really important to me. My logo - I hope - represents the fact that all my ceremonies are respectful and celebratory of everyone's life - regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, colour, ability, size, status, wealth, education, culture, background, religion or spiritual belief. My ceremonies are crafted with love. They focus on storytelling. Whether your end of life ceremony is arranged in a Crematorium, Cemetery, Green Burial Site with the coffin, or in your home, garden, village hall, hotel venue or other venue without the coffin, I will conduct a ceremony that reflects your loved one.
What is humanism?
Humanists believe that we only get one life so we should live the best life we can, without following any religion, belief in any god or a belief in an afterlife. Humanists believe that we should treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves – ie with equality and fairness –with humanity. Humanists believe that we should take responsibility for our own actions, and have respect for the environment and every living thing that shares our natural world. We make sense of the world through logic, reason, and evidence, and always seek to treat all those around us with warmth, understanding, and respect.
The richness of our lives depends on our consciousness. It allows us to reason, to deliberate between options, to imagine alternatives, to make choices, and to evaluate and reflect upon them. It is not just that we can make choices, but we have to make choices.
We’re not religious, but our families are – will they feel a humanist send off is appropriate?
In many people’s opinions, humanist celebrant led funeral ceremonies are perhaps the best, most personal and uplifting funeral services of all.
It is usual these days to have representation from people of all cultures, religions, backgrounds, denominations, ethnicities, beliefs, age, ability, colour, sexual orientation and gender within a funeral or memorial gathering. This is where a humanist ceremony really excels.
Humanists celebrate diversity. We don’t follow any religion but we are totally accepting of others’ beliefs in all faiths and religions. Therefore ceremonies are designed to be entirely inclusive so that everyone – regardless of their beliefs - feels comfortable with, and a part of what will probably be one of the most important and emotional occasions in your life.
Can I include a hymn or a prayer?
I'm a card carrying humanist with no religious beliefs, writing and delivering religion-free, life-story based ceremonies for anyone and everyone. BUT I do get it that sometimes the wishes of the deceased or their families can be complicated and so I try to accommodate all wishes wherever I can.
So.... while I won't ever include a collective act of worship because that assumes that everyone in the room is of the same belief (and therefore in my book, it's not inclusive...) if you want someone else to read a blessing or a poem or anything else that contains religious reference, or if you want a hymn to be played that’s poignant to you or the deceased for whatever reason, I would be happy to oblige!
How much do you charge?
My fee for a ceremony - a celebration of life, memorial, funeral service at a crematorium, graveside or other venue is currently £200 (2021). This includes an initial meeting on Zoom or face to face, script writing and all associated phone calls, emails, WhatsApp messages, coordination of content and delivery of the ceremony on the day. If the venue is over 15 miles from Harrogate, mileage is charged at 50p/mile.