We understand that there are people who would rather not have a religious ceremony. Sometimes the deceased person may even have specified this in their will. That’s why we often work with officiants other than ministers of religion to conduct non-religious ceremonies.
Unlike traditional funerals, these do not follow rituals such as religious readings or prayers. The purpose of a non-religious ceremony is simply to celebrate the life of the individual who has passed away, as well as to allow those who attend to acknowledge the loss of this family member or friend.
While there is no set agenda to a non-religious ceremony, there are usually some common aspects. A welcome message is usually spoken, often by a member of the family, followed by one or more readings, perhaps from a published novel or a poem.
A period of quiet thought and reflection is sometimes observed at non-religious ceremonies, as is the opportunity for others to speak about the deceased person. Such ceremonies are often ended with words of thanks from the family and/or a formal farewell from the officiant – whoever that might be.
One type of non-religious ceremony is provided by the Humanist Society. Their trained officiants conduct non-religious ceremonies as alternatives to traditional funerals. The ceremony may be held in a private home, a crematorium, a funeral parlour, at a graveside or at various other places. Although the ceremony will be non-religious, it will not be anti-religious, and care is taken to avoid giving offence to anyone, whatever his or her personal beliefs.
The main part of the ceremony is normally a tribute, compiled and read by the officiant, (after talking to you, your family and friends) celebrating the life history, character etc of the deceased person. This is usually followed by a short period of silent meditation for mourners to recall personal memories of the deceased; this is also an opportunity for mourners to engage in private prayer, if they so wish. Family and friends can take part in a Humanist service with readings, tributes and memories.
A Humanist Officiant would charge a fee for taking the funeral service.
For more information, visit the Humanist Society Scotland website.