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Funerals should be celebrations of life, says British public

Humanist Ceremonies place importance on creating a funeral that is appropriate to the person who has died and which meets the needs of the living both to mourn and to celebrate their life.

New research from YouGov has found that 44% of British adults now say that funerals should be a joyous celebration of life, as opposed to only 32% who say a funeral should always be solemn, or 21% who say neither or don’t know.

Humanists UK, whose life-affirming non-religious funerals started the trend for positive celebrations of life in the 1890s, has welcomed the news. Today Humanists UK remains a market leader in providing utterly bespoke, hand-crafted non-religious funerals through its nationwide network of celebrants, Humanist Ceremonies™.

The results support the findings of earlier YouGov research in 2016, which found that one in seven people in the UK want a humanist funeral when they die.

Head of Ceremonies Isabel Russo commented,

‘It’s no surprise to us that so many people in Britain now see funerals as an opportunity to celebrate a life and focus on the positives left behind by the ones we love.

‘We are all sad when someone close to us dies, and there’s no right or wrong way to take a funeral. That view is at the heart of the approach of our celebrants, and it’s why they work closely with families to craft a totally unique script and ceremony for every occasion, putting the person who has died at the centre of proceedings in a way that no other type of funeral can – whether sombre or upbeat.

‘In our experience, being able to give someone the send-off they would have wanted is often the best way to help along the grieving process. This focus, drawing on memories and moments shared and the feelings we still cherish, can help to make a difficult time much more bearable.’

As well as pioneering non-religious funerals, Humanists UK has been at the forefront of changing attitudes towards death, taking an active part in Dying Matters Awareness Week and the Death Cafe movement, which both seek to destigmatise conversations about dying, and providing non-religious pastoral support in hospitals and hospices.


For more information contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or 07393 344293.

Humanists UK provides a network of trained and accredited celebrants to take non-religious funerals, weddings and naming ceremonies in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands. It provides world-class training, which has been awarded an OCN Quality Mark for excellence, with 98% of clients rating their celebrant 5/5. You can contact a humanist celebrant via the Humanists Ceremonies website.

Humanist Ceremonies funerals, baby-namings, and weddings are attended by over one million people each year.

In 2018, Humanist Ceremonies launched the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive, a unique historical collection of funeral scripts to immortalise our memories of the ones we love and support future research into the lives of 20th and 21st century humanists.

See YouGov’s 2019 release on funeral research:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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