The death of someone we know and love is often shocking and painful, even if it is expected.

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

Humanist funerals bring people together to express sadness at the loss but also to celebrate the life lived. They focus sincerely and affectionately on the person who has died, paying tribute to the connections they made and left behind and the way they lived their life.


Whilst 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. And since funerals themselves have no legal status, humanist funerals – like all others – can be held in a variety of places, although in practice most are held in crematoria, cemeteries or woodland burial sites.

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

Working with a celebrant

British Humanist Association funeral celebrants are sensitive people, empathetic to the experience of bereavement but 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:

  • Meet 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
  • Advise on practical matters, such as options for the committal, for example, or the amount of time available for the ceremony at the crematorium
  • Listen to your ideas on music or readings and provide their own suggestions if needed
  • Share their ideas and draw on their experience when appropriate
  • Liaise with those involved in the ceremony, for example, anyone who will be reading a tribute or a poem / piece of prose
  • Write a unique ceremony that’s absolutely fitting for the person who has died and the circumstances
  • Are a calm presence on the day, leading the ceremony with warmth and dignity
  • Give you a presentation copy of the final script.

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.”

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Click here to download our funerals leaflet or for more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions.

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 the British Humanist Association’s book, Funerals Without GodThis includes lots of information and ideas on music and readings as well as sample ceremonies.