A non religious funeral

A non religious funeral acknowledges the loss and celebrates a life without a religious context. This can be a dignified alternative to a religious funeral service for a person without religious beliefs.

These celebrations of life are becoming increasingly common as people become more willing to admit they are non believers. Over 30,000 of the 500,000 or so funerals that take place in Britain each year are now non-religious ceremonies.

Modern humanism

Modern humanism is a philosophy and attitude to life which concentrates on human needs and values, and which seeks to apply reason and experience to the development of moral principles and the solution of human concerns

Most humanists, who are also known as secular humanists, consider that human beings can live ethical and fulfilling lives without religious beliefs, and they do not themselves believe in anything which is not capable of scientific proof.

Consequently they do not believe in the existence of God, or gods, or any other supernatural beings, or in life after death. For them there is only one life and it is up to each one of us to live it to the full.

There also some humanists, who are known as religious humanists, who agree with the humanist emphasis on human needs but see no conflict with religious belief, and many religious humanists are members of one or other of the world’s great religions.

A Humanist funeral service

A humanist funeral is a non-religious ceremony which aims to celebrate the life of the person who has died, and allow those attending, whether relatives or friends, to express their feelings and share their memories in the manner which the deceased would have wished.

Although there will not be any reference to life after death or to religious belief, nothing in the ceremony should be offensive to those who are religious.

Location for the service

A humanist funeral may take place in a cemetery, or in a natural burial ground (which may be in part of a cemetery), or at a crematorium. Whatever the choice, this will be in accordance with the wishes of the person who has died and their family.

British Humanist Association

The British Humanist Association (the ‘BHA’), which was founded in 1896, has over 28,000 members and says that 250,000 people attend the funerals and other non-religious ceremonies which are conducted by its celebrants each year.

BHA will provide a celebrant

If required, the BHA will provide an accredited celebrant to conduct the funeral ceremony. Celebrants in the BHA celebrants’ network are friendly and experienced, and they are familiar with burial and cremation procedures. Six years ago there were 120 in England and Wales. This number has now increased to 220.

If possible the celebrant will wish to meet the family and close friends to discuss the ceremony and learn as much as possible about the person who has died so that the ceremony will do justice to their life and personality.

Further help

For further advice, you should contact the British Humanist Association.

Please note

The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.