Online ceremonies and the coronavirus pandemic

Marking the death of someone is important, and if you can’t bring people together in one place, with a Humanist Ceremonies celebrant you can still celebrate a life and hold a fitting memorial.

In the event that you and your family cannot gather together to attend a funeral, we want to reassure you that there are still ways to celebrate a life lived and say goodbye to a loved one without the need to bring people together physically in one place: a humanist memorial ceremony that is shared online.

Holding an online funeral or memorial ceremony

An online ceremony offers the opportunity for everyone to participate in the service from their own home.

Our celebrants

At Humanist Ceremonies, throughout the pandemic, our funeral celebrants will be planning ceremonies by telephone or video calls, rather than meeting in person. They will spend time getting to know your loved one’s life story, and they will work with you to draft a meaningful, fitting tribute to them. Together, you can also plan to include love poems, uplifting poems, readings, and the involvement of other people in delivering the service.

In the same way that we hold two minutes’ silence at the same time on Remembrance Day, there is something unifying in knowing that others are doing the same thing at exactly the same time as each other but in their own homes. With some forward-planning, symbolic acts – such as everyone simultaneously lighting a candle – can be incorporated into the remote ceremony, and at the appropriate time in the service, your celebrant can indicate this communal activity to everyone participating at home.

How does a remote ceremony work?

With regard to the ceremony, you will have two options – a celebrant-led ceremony which is streamed live and watched by invited guests – or a participative ceremony where the celebrant is able to invite others to contribute with reading or poems based on an agreed order of service.

Order of Service for a remote ceremony

Each humanist memorial service is unique, but to give you an idea of what a service might look like, here is an example of an ‘Order of Service’:

  • Words of welcome
  • Thoughts on life and death from a humanist, non-religious perspective
  • The Tribute – The life story of the deceased is shared and celebrated
  • Readings of poetry and prose
  • Reflection – A few moments for private thoughts about the person who has died
  • Symbolic act – E.g. Everyone lighting a candle at the same time
  • Closing words – Including thanks on your behalf

Families will receive an emailed copy of the Order of Service and tribute.

Further information

For more information about humanist funerals, visit our FAQ page or watch this short video.

Find a celebrant

If you would like to discuss a funeral or memorial ceremony, you can find your local humanist funeral celebrant via our website.

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