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Humanist Funeral Practices: Celebrating the Individual

Gabrielle Applebury
Humanist funeral practices service

A humanist funeral honors a deceased individual without incorporating religion or any God related practices into the service. If you haven't ever attended a humanist funeral, or are just curious about what one may look like, it can be helpful to better understand the entire process.

Humanist Funeral

A humanist funeral will vary in terms of what is included in the service based on what the deceased individual may have wanted and/or how their loved one chooses to plan the service.

What Are Humanist Funerals Like?

Humanist funerals, like religious funerals, will vary in terms of the service. However, many humanist funerals are similar to religious funerals in that:

  • The aim is to honor the deceased individual
  • Someone may lead the service
  • There may be music, poems, and readings incorporated into the service
  • Loved ones may give eulogies
  • Loved ones may attend the burial after the service
  • A repast may take place after the service

Who Performs a Humanist Funeral?

Humanist funerals can be performed by various individuals including:

  • A humanist celebrant
  • The deceased individual's loved one
  • A religious funeral officiant who is comfortable excluding religious verbiage from the service

Can a Humanist Funeral Be Held in a Church?

A humanist funeral may be held in a church if the church and the individuals organizing the funeral are comfortable using a church as a venue. If you are planning a humanist funeral, it's always best to be up front with the venue regarding the service to ensure that everyone is comfortable with a non-religious service taking place in a church.

What to Wear to a Humanist Funeral

It's best to wear conservative, dark clothing, unless otherwise specified by the individual planning the funeral. If in doubt, you can always ask a loved one of the deceased individual what would be appropriate to wear to the service.

Humanist Funeral Order of Service Examples

At a humanist funeral, the order of the service may vary. An example of a humanist funeral service order:

  • Music may play as individuals enter the venue
  • The celebrant will welcome guests and offer some opening words
  • Loved ones may read one or more eulogy speeches or tribute speeches that honor the deceased individual
  • Loved ones or the celebrant may give one or multiple readings
  • Celebrant will end with closing thoughts and let guests know where to head next (burial site or repast)
  • Music may play as guests exit

Keep in mind that music, readings, and speeches will not incorporate any religious aspects.

Humanist Funeral Ideas

A humanist funeral may be held in a variety of venues which may include parks, beaches, hotels, a funeral home, museum, garden, crematorium chapel, or anywhere else where individuals are permitted to gather for this type of service. Other than having various potential venue options, humanist funerals may incorporate:

Humanist Funeral Plans

Planning a nonreligious funeral and deciding what to incorporate into the service in terms of humanist funeral readings, songs, and speeches may be based on the wishes of the deceased individual, and/or the loved one(s) who are planning the funeral.

What Do Humanists Do When Someone Dies?

Humanist funerals, like religious funerals, will vary based on the final wishes of the deceased individual, and/or what the family of the deceased individual wants.

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Humanist Funeral Practices: Celebrating the Individual