Non-Religious Funeral and Memorial Ceremonies

Non-Religious Funeral and Memorial Ceremonies

Non-religious funeral and memorial ceremonies

Humanist funerals offer a personal and fitting way to support families in saying goodbye to those who have lived without religion. They honour the person who has died, focusing on the life they led, the relationships they forged, and the legacy they left.

A humanist funeral service is based on the humanist perspective that we each have one life only and every person is unique and valuable.

An older man, in the sea wearing a wetsuit and giving a thumbs up
Meaningful ceremonies that reflect the person they were

Funeral ceremonies conducted by humanist celebrants are both a celebration of a life and a dignified, distinctive farewell. They’re the perfect option for families who want a sincere, personal reflection on the life of their loved one. This can be especially important if the person who died wasn’t particularly religious.

A humanist non religious funeral is led by a celebrant, rather than a religious official. It is a testament to a unique life. It honours the person who has died without religious rituals, focusing on them as an individual and their story. Humanist funerals often include non religious music and readings, as well as time for reflection. They can be as traditional – or not – as you wish.

You don’t have to be a humanist to choose this meaningful, bespoke funeral ceremony. Humanist funerals are open to everyone, regardless of background, religion or culture.

Humanist ceremonies are suitable for:

  • Cremations
  • Burials
  • Green funerals and natural burials
  • Direct cremations
  • Celebrations of life
  • Scattering of ashes
  • Interment of ashes
  • Memorial services

If you’re ready to begin making arrangements then use our online map to find a celebrant local to you. For more information and advice, read on.

Arranging a non-religious funeral

White lilies in sunshine

It can be challenging to make funeral arrangements at a time when you are grieving and, sometimes, in shock. Not only are there a lot of practical elements to organise, but also you have to think about what type of ceremony would be right for your loved one.

A funeral director is the professional most likely to support you to deal with the practical funeral arrangements. Or you may choose to arrange the funeral without a director, with the support of your local council or an organisation like the Natural Death Centre.  In either case, the type of ceremony you choose is up to you. You may be following funeral instructions left in a will but, if not, you decide how you will pay tribute to your loved one.

Every humanist funeral is unique. Each ceremony is written specifically for the occasion. A humanist service tells the story of the person who has died, recognising the person they were and the life they lived.

Remembering the good times

Many people choose a humanist funeral because they have been to one before and found it moving and meaningful in how it represented the person they knew. We recognise that although it is a non religious funeral, it is likely to be attended by guests of different faiths and beliefs.

Our celebrants ensure that everyone present feels welcomed and included.

Working with a humanist funeral celebrant

Our funeral celebrants are thoughtful and sensitive people. They are empathetic to the experience of bereavement and are trained to provide a funeral ceremony that will be most fitting for your particular circumstances.

This may be something solemn, or you may want to bring humour to the ceremony. Some friends and family like to speak during the service, where others prefer to let the celebrant lead it all.

Humanist funeral celebrants support you in the way you choose, whatever is appropriate for your circumstances. They are familiar with cremation and burial procedures and will guide you through the whole process of arranging a funeral ceremony. This can be done in person or via a phone or video call.

Humanist funeral celebrant David Atkinson
Humanist funeral celebrant David Atkinson

Humanists UK funeral celebrants will:

  • Talk to you, family members or friends most closely connected with the person who has died to learn about that person
  • Personalise the ceremony. They will share ideas and draw on their experience and expertise to make the funeral personal and appropriate
  • Listen to and incorporate your ideas on music, readings, or symbolic gestures
  • Write a unique funeral ceremony that’s absolutely fitting for the person who has died, capturing their life and personality
  • Advise on practical matters, such as the amount of time available for the ceremony at the crematorium, or other ways of holding a ceremony if preferred
  • Liaise with those involved in the ceremony, for example, anyone who will be reading a tribute, poem, or piece of prose, to ensure all goes smoothly.
  • Act as a calm and guiding presence on the day, leading the ceremony with warmth and dignity
  • Send you a presentation copy of the final script, if you would like

All Humanists UK celebrants are trained and accredited to deliver high quality and bespoke non religious ceremonies. They have an in-depth understanding of what makes a fitting tribute to a loved one and will advise and guide you through the process.

Each one of our accredited celebrants is a part of a growing national network covering England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. All are insured and have professional indemnity as well as a DBS check. Our celebrants are rigorously trained, accredited, quality assured and regulated by a code of conduct. Celebrants also undergo continued professional development to ensure they uphold the highest standards, undertaking their work with compassion and dignity.

What people say about humanist funeral ceremonies

An older couple sit together on the sofa, cosy in jumpers and smiling at each other
Honouring your loved one’s memory

‘You struck exactly the right tone and balance. Many people commented to me that they could not believe that you had never met her! People were also very interested to hear details of her life. For most it was the first time they had attended a humanist service of any description and I only received positive comments. They appreciated the honesty of the service and the fact that it was all about my mother with no other influences.’

‘Whilst still sad, people thought it was a beautiful and uplifting funeral and many commented that it was the most personal funeral they’d ever been to.’

Next steps

Holding hands in a comforting way

We recommend talking to a humanist funeral celebrant to find out more about our funeral ceremonies and see if it is the right option for you.

You can find a celebrant near you with our easy-to-use map.

If you have already spoken to a funeral director you can let them know your choice of celebrant once you have found the right person.

If you have further questions, visit our FAQs page. You can also read about ceremony ideas and find further support with writing a eulogy or finding the right reading on our blog.

Further information

Thinking about your own end of life plans?

If you are thinking about your own end of life plans and arranging your own funeral, you may like to use our pre-planned funeral ceremony service.

Thinking ahead to your end of life plans is a thoughtful act that can bring reassurance and peace of mind to you and your loved ones.

Our pre-planned funeral ceremony service puts you in touch with a celebrant who can help you plan for your funeral.