Humanist funerals mark the passing of a loved one by balancing the sadness and the sense of loss with a celebration of the life that was lived and is now ended. This is achieved with thoughtful reflections from family and friends interspersed with music and appropriate, well-chosen words from the celebrant.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Disclaimer: Please note that these questions and answers are for general information purposes only.
The answers are correct to the best of our belief and knowledge at the present time, but are not
definitive. Different celebrants take slightly different approaches, so please speak to a celebrant if
you have a particular query or concern.
As an ever increasing number of people adopt secular philosophical life stances, they opt to
celebrate the life of their loved one and express their sadness at the loss of that person by choosing
a Humanist funeral service.
Q: What is a Humanist Funeral?
A: Humanist funerals focus on the person who has died, balancing the sadness of loss with a
celebration of the person’s life.
If possible, the celebrant will meet the family or friends who are organising the funeral, and
together they will plan a meaningful ceremony. Otherwise, the ceremony can be arranged
by telephone or skype. The celebrant will take the time to learn as much as possible about
the person who has died, and the family will usually contribute readings or music. These
contributions will often be reflective, capturing the essence of the person who has died. The
celebrant will lead the ceremony, using appropriate words at the beginning and end, with
dignity and warmth.
Q: Where will the funeral be held?
A: Humanist funerals can be held in any suitable venue: in a crematorium, at the graveside, in
the funeral parlour, at a hotel, a community hall, in gardens, a woodland, a marquee or a
private home. One option is to have a short ceremony at the graveside, and then a
celebration of the person’s life in a venue such as a hotel or hall. The funeral director should
be able to advise you about suitable venues in your locality.
Q: When can the funeral be held?
A: Humanist funerals can be held at any time. In the case of a cremation, it is useful to arrange
the funeral as the last cremation of the day, or to book two consecutive slots, in order to
allow sufficient time for a full ceremony. The ceremony will normally last at least 40
minutes, so allowing up to one hour is advisable.
Q: Some of the family are religious – can their beliefs be included?
A: Humanism acknowledges the right of all to people to choose and practise their own
philosophical life stance, and it is important to us that everyone is included in a funeral
ceremony. While the celebrant cannot say anything religious, the funeral can include a
minute’s silence during which all mourners can consider the life of the deceased and grieve
according to their own custom. While Humanist funerals are by definition secular, that is,
non-religious, some celebrants may on occasion agree to prayers being spoken aloud by
Q: How much does a funeral ceremony cost?
A: Humanist celebrants are accredited by the HAI but operate as independent service providers
so do not have a fixed fee rate – please discuss with your celebrant. Typically you can expect
a guideline fee in the region of €250 (this includes a €25 contribution to the HAI). Fees may
vary from celebrant to celebrant, particularly if the venue is some distance from them as
they will incur travel costs.
Some of our celebrants are VAT-registered and, as such, need to add 23% VAT to their fees.
Q: Can I arrange my own funeral?
A: People often ask if they can arrange their own Humanist funeral, so that they can be sure
that their funeral will fit with their own convictions. Most celebrants would be very
favourably disposed to discussing your funeral ceremony with you. You should make sure
your wishes are known to whoever will be making the funeral arrangements. We would
advise you to put your wishes in writing.