humanist funerals

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by rich p, 29 Mar 2008.

  1. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    My dear old Dad has passed away and as he wasn't remotely religious we thought we might arrange a humanist funeral. Does anyone know if this is a good idea or would it be better to go down a diffrent route. I'm waiting to hear from the humanist bloke to find out what is entailed but meanwhile any experiences would be appreciated.
  2. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    rich p, sincerest condolences to you and your family.
    I hope you find a good solution.
  3. wafflycat

    wafflycat New Member

    middle of Norfolk
    Firstly sorry to hear about your dad.

    Funerals are for those left behind to say goodbye to the person they cared about. To me, whatever you think you are comfortable with as a suitable farewell to your dad that is important. Nothing else matters. As long as the folk that knew him, loved him, were friends with him, say good bye in a way those who organise events think is fitting, is fair enough.
  4. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    Rich, sorry to hear that. I and friends pretty much arranged my partner's funeral last year, completely without religion of any sort. We had the undertaker for the pratical stuff - coffin, cars, slot at the crem etc, and otherwise we coordinated 6 or 7 of us to read eulogies or poems and had music on CD to play (his choices) and I organised the order of service. It was, if there can be such a thing, the best funeral he could have had, everyone said so, and the undertakers took care of all the complicated stuff (including organising a wicker coffin) and were excellent, and we got on with the personal stuff. Go with whatever feels right for you and your Dad. Funerals are as much for those left behind to come to terms with things, and say goodbye, as they are for the dead - so probably good to think about what he'd have wanted, and what you all want.

    If you would like any more specific advice, such as I can give, please do PM me, I'll be back online on Monday.
  5. redcogs

    redcogs New Member

    Moray Firth
    Sorry about your Dad Rich. Humanist funerals focus upon the life of the deceased to a greater extent than any of the religious counterparts that i've attended. Normally the friends and relations who are left behind are invited to say things about their loss and about the person who has died - if they want to. The humanist who conducts the service will also have researched the life of the one who has passed and will make appropriate remarks in accordance with family wishes.

    Honesty is encouraged i think, which is something that i prefer, and a change from the often too gushing 'appreciations' associated with religion.

    Please understand that i'm not suggesting that religious funerals do not have a place, i'm sure they do for the many religious families that take that route, and i'm also sure that they can provide comfort for those that feel they need a spiritual dimension. But the fact is that many reject that view quite consciously (as maybe your Dad did?), and the humanist approach allows for and enables a very sensitive coming to terms 'ceremony' without the iconography and ritual connected to organised worship.
  6. OP
    rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Thanks for that. I'm not sure if I should/could do the MC role with others saying their bit or if I should get a professional to 'host' it. Do you think a son should do it or maybe a less close family member or friend? I realise of course that ultimately it's a very personal decision by me and my sisters. They have indicated that they'll feel understandably unable to say much. I worry a little bit that a humanist' minister' might be a bit impersonal but I've never heard one speak and I'm not sure, in truth, if a humanist is something more than a helpful atheist?
  7. Speicher

    Speicher Vice Admiral Moderator

    My Grandmother and my Father both had Humanist funerals, which was appropriate as neither of them had set foot in a Church for the last decades of their life. The Officiant at my Grandmother's funeral was so eloquent in describing my grandmother's life, that throughout the Service, I was convinced that he must have recently met her.

    On a very practical point, which I am sure the Humanist person/represenative will tell you, is that if the Service is to be at a Crematorium, please consider booking a "Double" Service time. Otherwise you may feel rushed.

    On another entirely practical note, if members of your family would like to carry the coffin, please discuss this with the undertakers beforehand. Two of my nephews decided that they wanted to do this, but said so at the last minute. They were not really tall enough or strong enough to do so. But their father, my brother, was too upset at the time to gently explain that this was not a good idea. The undertakers obviously did not want to say so either. This resulted in the very undignified handling of the coffin, and was extremely upsetting, both at the time, and in my memory of the funeral.

    The Humanist involved in the Funeral may also like to see a recent photo of your Father. You might like to find one before they visit.

    I hope this is useful, in a very small way, at this very difficult time.
  8. numbnuts

    numbnuts Legendary Member

    North Baddesley
    I went to a funeral on Friday the person as far as I know wasn’t religious, and although there was a priest it was about a celebration of her life and not her death. For the people left behind there is a nice poem :-
    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning's hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there, I did not die.
  9. Speicher

    Speicher Vice Admiral Moderator

    I have just read the other replies posted. Family members may wish to say something or read something appropriate. I would suggest that just in case on the day, or in the middle of the reading, they are unable to continue, that you have someone prepared to take over. My brother wanted very much to read a poem, but at the last minute, decided he could not do so. We fortunately had another family member, who had a copy of the poem and was able to "step in" without confusion or further upset.

    I think the Humanist Funerals of my Grandmother and Father were a celebration of their lives. I entirely agree with all that Redcogs has just said, particularly the first paragraph. I realise that my earlier post concentrated on the practical aspects of a Service. Redcogs has been able to describe the emotional aspects much better than I could.
  10. wafflycat

    wafflycat New Member

    middle of Norfolk
    You get good & less than good 'ministers' in all faiths/beliefs. Go with what you & your sisters feel is right for you & you dad. Don't worry about what others think. When Mr Wafflycat's Dad died, although we had a church funeral, we did it how we felt we wanted him to be remembered. On the service booklet, I had a photo of his mum & dad on their wedding day reproduced. Wafflycat Jnr red out a poem we felt was fitting & Mr Wafflycat said some words and we played some music we felt fitted the day and remembering his Mum and dad, as on the same day we had Mr Wafflycat's mum's ashes reintered in the same grave as MrW's dad. It worked for us and apparently for the other family members there, as they said so to us. But what worked for us could be entirely different for someone else. Just do what you feel to be right, and it will be.
  11. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Exterminate Christmas! Moderator

    I'd just like to echo what everyone else has said.
    Do whatever you all feel is right for you.
    Deepest condolences to you and yours.
  12. papercorn2000

    papercorn2000 Senior Member

    Again, I echo the condolences of others here. I've been to a humanist funeral and the eulogy given by the deceased's friend meant that everyone left the ceremony with a smile on their faces. It was really a celebration if the guy's life. He had picked the music and had chosen a poem: so it ended up being very personal and up-beat.
  13. andygates

    andygates New Member

    And I'll echo that, with the funeral last year of a friend. He always said "He who dies with the most toys wins" and they propped his Birdy up against the coffin. ;)
  14. OP
    rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Sincere thanks eveyone. You've helped immensely and clarified my thoughts.
  15. longers

    longers Veteran

    Sincere condolences Rich P.
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