Humanist funeral and memorial ceremonies

Coronavirus regulations

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, all humanist ceremonies may lawfully continue, and must comply with national coronavirus regulations (which differ in each of the nations of the UK) and restrictions on numbers.

Our celebrants are being kept fully up to date on national and local regulations, both of which are subject to frequent change, and will be able to advise you on what is possible, including as to locations and numbers of guests, to help you plan your ceremony, your way.

Humanist funeral and memorial ceremonies

Humanist funerals and memorials are non-religious ceremonies that support family and friends to mourn and to celebrate the person who has died. They focus on the life they led, the relationships they forged, and the legacy they left. They are based on the humanist perspective that every life is individual and valuable.

Ceremonies are conducted by humanist celebrants and are both a celebration of a life and a dignified, personal 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, meaning a religious funeral could feel inauthentic and not true to who they were in life.

Humanist funerals and memorial services offer a personal and fitting way to support families in saying goodbye to those who have lived without religion. Many thousands are conducted by our celebrants each year.

Arranging a funeral

While a funeral director is the professional most likely to deal with the practical arrangements of a funeral, what type of ceremony you choose is entirely up to you. If you are thinking about arranging your own funeral, you may like to use our pre-planned funeral ceremony service.

Working with a celebrant

Humanists UK funeral celebrants are sensitive people, empathetic to the experience of bereavement, and focused on providing a funeral ceremony that will be most fitting for the circumstances. They are familiar with cremation and burial procedures and will guide you through the whole process of arranging a funeral ceremony.

Funeral celebrants:

  •  Work with the family or friends most closely connected with the person who has died to learn more about that person and ensure that the funeral justly captures their life and personality. If this can’t be done in person, it can be done via a telephone or video call
  • Write a unique ceremony that’s absolutely fitting for the person who has died
  • 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 there can be no attendance at the crematorium
  • Listen to your ideas on music, readings, or symbolic gestures and can make  suggestions that they feel may work for your family within any circumstances
  • Talk to you about how to personalise the ceremony, sharing their ideas and drawing on their experience and expertise
  • 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 presence on the day, leading the ceremony with warmth and dignity.
  • Send you a presentation copy of the final script.

What people say about humanist ceremonies

‘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.’

Further information

We are proud to be associated with:

Download our funerals leaflet or, for more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions page.

You can also see a sample structure of a funeral ceremony, or look for a funeral celebrant in your area.

If you are planning your own funeral, you can find some helpful resources here.

You may also like to buy a copy of Humanists UK’s book, Funerals Without God.