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Humanist funeral service or civil funeral service



The amount of options open to us when planning a funeral can feel confusing. Would a church service, a humanist service or a civil funeral service be best?

Today, there is great flexibility in the type of funeral service we can plan for ourselves or hold to honour a loved one.

While a traditional funeral was always a religious ceremony held in a church, there are now many options available for those who may feel that a church service does not best represent the person being memorialised.

However, this level of choice can feel overwhelming when you come to look into it. Here, we have noted some of the details about two of the main non secular services you can choose to hold and the differences between them.

A humanist service

A humanist service is a non religious service, which means that there will be no mention of religion throughout and no hymns or religious readings. These services are very much people focused and centre specifically upon the life of the person being remembered. Unlike a church ceremony, with a humanist service there is no set script – the celebrant appointed to lead the funeral will write individual words for the person themselves.

Humanists are those who do not believe there is an afterlife, but rather view death as the end of a person’s life and existence. The service is then designed very much as a final goodbye, in contrast to some other services, either religious or non religious, which can be more about sending the deceased to their next place.

Humanist services are held in many different locations, again with an emphasis upon where best represents the person being remembered. However, they can also be held in more traditional settings such as crematoriums too.

A civil service

While a civil service is much like a humanist service in that it is non religious, it is not as strictly non religious. In a civil service you can still include things like hymns, prayers or religious readings even if you don’t wish for a full church service. For some people, they may feel that a civil service delivers for them the best of both worlds, with the ability to include some small religious aspects if they feel that it is appropriate.

As with a humanist service, a civil celebrant will write a service focused upon the person being remembered, allowing you the opportunity to personalise the service. A civil service can be held anywhere apart from within a church or religious building.

Making your choice

There is nothing in the law which states the type of funeral you need to have. It is essential that the choice you make reflects on the person that you are remembering and allows you to share your memories in the best way you can.

While respecting the wishes of the deceased, consider also those who will come to the funeral to remember them and how best they may wish to do so.

Finally, think about where you would like to hold the funeral as this can have a bearing on which type of service you have. Taking out a funeral plan can help alleviate some of the stress in planning your funeral as a Funeral Director can help assist you.

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