Every funeral should be special — a unique and personal celebration of the life of the person who has died. And, if a hobby, pastime, or career was of primary importance, it can feature in a humanist funeral ceremony.
Humanist funeral celebrant Adam Jacobs is a dedicated motorcyclist and Lincolnshire emergency blood biker. He tells us why he’s keen to give fellow bikers a good send-off.
Bikers tend to be quite passionate about different aspects of biking. For some, it’s their bike, for others, riding, routes, places to meet up, or their fellow riders. I can relate to this. That’s why I’m keen to make sure that bikers get the perfect send-off. After all, if biking is your passion, you don’t want a funeral written and delivered by someone who doesn’t ‘get it’.
Planning a funeral for a biker
As with any funeral, it is crucial to spend time with the people who knew the person who has died. I translate their thoughts into an unforgettable ceremony and include music and readings.
I know that many bikers use their hobby as a way to do good. Some do fundraising, or volunteering, such as delivering toys at Christmas. I can include those aspects of your loved one into the ceremony too.
If a family wants a convoy or procession of bikes before the funeral, I am happy to be part of that. I can turn up on my BMW GSA, and I won’t mind a bit if everyone else is on a Harley!
If the biker was a member of a club, it is possible to incorporate a ‘last rev’ at the end of the procession before all the bikes are turned off.
If the funeral is a cremation, we can arrange a ‘last ride’ for the ashes to be carried by bike to the location of the scattering or interment of the ashes.
I don’t only conduct funerals for bikers, of course. I craft all kinds of personalised ceremonies based on individual character and interests.
I have attended funerals where the ceremony was hardly focused on the person who had died. That doesn’t seem right to me. I am passionate that someone’s funeral should communicate the essence of their life.
To me, the funeral is an integral part of the process of grieving and letting go.
I am interested in trying to minimise our impact on the environment in death as much as in life. I am available to conduct ceremonies at green or woodland sites.
An unforgettable ceremony
I remember one ceremony in particular. It was for someone who was deeply loved and admired. It was a beautiful ceremony, with plenty of family participation. Her grandchildren shared a presentation of her life: photographs set to music. The timing was exquisite – the way the photographs matched the music. It felt as if the family were drawn together by the love and loss that they felt.
Why I became a humanist celebrant
I grew up in a (nominally) Christian family, surrounded by elderly relatives. In my youth, I gave readings at some family funerals. As I became older, I delivered the eulogy at a few funerals. I found that challenging, but doing it helped me deal with my feelings of loss. And, I could see how much it meant to the other people who were there.
I realised that there was a much better way of approaching these ceremonies. I preferred the idea of focusing on the life of the person who had died rather than on ritual or a god. I thought that would provide a better focus for the feelings of those who were mourning.
Once I had worked out my own thoughts and beliefs, I joined Humanists UK. (I discovered the charity via social media and found we shared the same values.)
What Humanism means to me
Humanism is a non-religious approach to life. It recognises the dignity of individuals and treats them with fairness and respect. It celebrates human achievement, progress, and potential.
To me, Humanism is very much about looking for answers to life’s problems in science and human endeavour. It offers a very powerful antidote to many of the problems that arise in society.
Adam Jacobs conducts funerals in Lincolnshire and across the East Midlands.
‘Your script was meaningful and gave young and old time to remember and reflect on individual memories.’
‘Your gentleness and [the] comfort you wrap around the family at a sad time enabled us all to get through a very emotional journey.’
An introduction to Humanism
This short video by Stephen Fry is a good introduction to Humanism.
How humanist are you?
Take our short quiz to find out if you share humanist values.