Funerals are undoubtedly sad and emotional occasions, but they can also be uplifting and cathartic. When I am asked to visit a bereaved family, I never know what amazing life story I might hear and, although the opening comment may sometimes be, “I don’t know what I can tell you”, after a short time, extraordinary and often inspirational details emerge; details which I then have the privilege of sharing with the other mourners. Most visits are conducted in person but can also be done over the phone or online if needed.
Sadly, I have conducted several ceremonies for young adults, children or babies who have had less time to make their mark upon the wider world – but whose loss has a profound and lasting impact upon the people who knew and loved them. As always, the emphasis is on acknowledging the importance of each of their lives and the memories they leave behind.
Humanist ceremonies have no bible readings or prayers, so whatever time we have can be spent reflecting on the life and personality of the person we are there to remember. During most ceremonies, a period of private reflection is included which anyone with a religious faith can use for private prayer, if they wish.
While funerals usually take place in a crematorium, cemetery or green burial ground, the ceremony which precedes or follows the committal can be held elsewhere if appropriate. An example would be a graveside ceremony for the immediate family followed by a much larger gathering in a hall or hotel. Similar venues would be used for memorial ceremonies.
How much the mourners, contribute to the ceremony is down to personal choice. No-one should ever feel pressured into speaking if they don’t wish to, so there is no right or wrong way. Each ceremony is written individually, and my role is to say as much or as little as the family wishes me to.
Carefully chosen music and/or poetry can express so many emotions and most people like to include several pieces. The selection need not be guided by convention or tradition but can be something which has a particular significance – including a favourite hymn if you wish – or anything that you simply enjoy listening to. And inviting everyone to join in singing is a good way to make people feel involved. Most venues can also accommodate live music if you prefer.
Some families prefer not to attend the crematorium for a ceremony, but instead choose a Direct Cremation, in which case I am not involved at that stage but can conduct a Memorial Ceremony or an Interment of Ashes Ceremony later. This might also apply if a funeral ceremony has taken place in another country, or if a person has donated their body for medical research.
These can be held at any venue and are a perfect way to celebrate the life of someone you know and care for, either in addition to or instead of a funeral. I have conducted memorial ceremonies in hotels, village halls, pubs, and gardens, some with just a handful of people in attendance and others with large numbers present. With no time constraints, there are often several speakers as well as music and poetry.
Interment of ashes
At some point after a cremation, a family may wish to inter a loved-one’s ashes and mark the occasion with a small ceremony. Whether it is for someone whose funeral I have previously conducted, or whether I am involved for the first time, I am happy to prepare and conduct something fitting.
There is no fixed boundary to the area I cover. I usually conduct ceremonies within a radius of around 30 miles of my home in Woodthorpe, Nottingham, but am also happy to travel further if requested.
Although most approaches for funerals/interment of cremated remains are made through a Funeral Director, some families prefer to contact me directly. If you would like to discuss arranging a funeral, a memorial ceremony or an interment of ashes, please contact me by phone or email, or by completing the form below.
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0115 8378207