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Funeral and Memorial Ceremonies
Personal and Meaningful
The funeral and memorial ceremonies we offer to create and hold for you take into account the beliefs of your loved one whatever they were – religious, part religious, non religious, spiritual or no faith.
We can also include wording as part of the introduction to the ceremony to ensure that everyone attending the ceremony feels welcomed, respected and included.
Taking into account every aspect of your ceremony and what you need from timing to content we guide you all the way. The main component of the ceremony can be personal ie it's all about remembering the person and celebrating and giving thanks for their life; or the focus can be spiritual and include prayers and blessings, and anything else you choose that reflects the spirit of the person. Very often individuals and families choose to have a combination of both personal and spiritual.
Whether your loved one left instructions or not, our aim is for you to have a ceremony for your loved one that you feel one hundred percent happy with, that you feel they would be one hundred percent happy with.
We strongly believe even though we may never have met the person we’re holding the funeral for, it doesn’t detract from what we can offer - we can still hold a wonderful, personalised funeral. We speak for you, on your behalf, and the important thing is that you and all the people gathered at the funeral did know your loved one.
To be invited to be part of something so important as a funeral or memorial for anyone is a great privilege and responsibility. Our intention is to be a rock for you and the whole proceedings – to help you start to come to terms with your loss as you say good-bye to your loved one in the most fitting way for you and them.
Initial Decisions Needed for the Ceremony
The Practical Choices which Need to be Made
There are no legal restrictions as to where you can hold a funeral or memorial ceremony (legal restrictions come in with regards to place of burial and cremation).
You can choose to be outside or in your garden, you could be on the beach or in the woods. You might choose to be indoors in a village hall, a crematorium or a church or chapel. So long as the practicalities can be taken care of ie transportation of the coffin/casket, and comfort of the family and friends, we’re happy to go where you need us to go.
Though this is not always possible depending on the nature and cause of your loved one's parting, we suggest we start our preparations with a date, time and location for the ceremony and then decide how we’ll communicate.
Depending on where you’re located we can use the phone, email, mail and so on, or we’ll come and spend some time with you to gather information, hear about the life of your loved one and talk about what you’d like for their ceremony.
However we communicate together we’ll explore how best to honour your loved one, and how you’d like to celebrate them and give thanks for their life.
To make sure we cover all the aspects that you’d like we often use a series of questions as a guiding structure for us to gather information from you to create the ceremony.
The idea of having a Green Funeral is becoming more and more popular, but what does it really mean in practice? Does it mean you opt for a burial at a woodland burial site? Is it greener to opt for a burial or a cremation? There are arguments and pros and cons in favour of and against both. Is it greener to opt for a particular type of coffin?
Green burial sites have rigorous stipulations about materials being placed in the ground ie what the coffin is made of and what fabric is used to line the coffin and clothe your loved one's body; also the use of formaldehyde in embalming. Crematoria also have rules along these lines which must be adhered to. A Funeral Director can offer advice to help you make the best choice for you and your loved one, and also advise of the rules that apply to your chosen option (different burial sites and crematoria will have different procedures and possibly some different levels of what they will accept).
Traditional funeral transport is not usually what we would term environmentally friendly, but is finding another option of transport going to end up causing you more stress when it's only the once and the cars are probably not driving so far?
Do you have your Orders of Service printed on recycled card or paper using vegetable ink rather than chemicals? Do you choose not to have an Order of Service? Do you opt for floral tributes which are local and seasonal, or no floral tributes? Do you only serve local, seasonal food and drink at the refreshments following on from the service?
Food for thought! There is a lot of talk about Green Funerals and a lot of people 'jumping on the bandwagon' in offering advice, products and services. We'll support you in making those choices that feel right and fitting for you whether they're considered Green by our society or not. We're here to help you, and we don’t stand in judgement of any of the choices you make.
Using a Funeral Director or Arranger
We’re there to hold both the structure of the service, and be there for you as a supportive person as you pay tribute to your loved one. Sometimes family and friends want and need to participate in the ceremony, and sometimes family and friends don’t want to do or say anything other than be there. We’re all different and our needs are different.
We’ll support you with whatever you need, without judgement and with absolute acceptance of how you’re feeling. Whether you want to be taken care of in your grief and sadness and have someone else help you make the decisions, or whether you want to be fully involved in all the arrangements and actively participate in the funeral, we take our lead from you.
It’s our intention to hold every ceremony with gentleness, calmness and caring – to respond to what you would like. Should you choose not to enlist the services of a Funeral Director, and wish to make your own alternative arrangements for the care and placement of your loved one's body, and the co-ordination of the ceremony on the day, we support you to do whatever feels right and fitting for you and your loved one.
Should you wish to use a Funeral Director or Arranger, we work alongside them.
Funeral Directors are often invaluable with knowing what needs to be done and when with regards to paperwork for a burial or cremation; they can also offer suggestions covering everything from where to have refreshments following a ceremony, to organising floral tributes and live musicians for you.
We suggest you bear in mind that not all Funeral Directors offer the same service. As in any sector of the service industry, some view it as a business and some as a vocation, and a cheaper or more expensive price doesn't necessarily reflect either a caring compassionate service or a more clinical professional service.
Personal recommendations from family and friends who have themselves used a Funeral Director for a funeral they've had to organise are invaluable at a time when you don't have a personal connection with anyone you know.
Creating and Writing the Ceremony
We’ll discuss with you whether your loved one left any written or verbal instructions or wishes about what they would like for their funeral service.
We’ll find out about the religious or spiritual beliefs of your loved one and the family, and what terminology you'll be comfortable using if you choose to have prayers (God, Spirit, something else?).
We’ll ask about whether there are any favourite or especially meaningful or comforting or inspiring readings, or songs and music you’d like included in the ceremony?
If you're not sure what to have, we'll help you find something fitting for the ceremony we create for your loved one, should you wish to have readings and music.
You may have no problems in knowing what music should be played at your loved one’s funeral; perhaps they left clear instructions or you’re familiar with their favourite pieces. You or your loved one may have had friends who are musicians or who offer to sing at the funeral which is always a beautiful tribute. And you may not wish to have any music at the ceremony – as with all elements of the ceremony we create for you, it’s your choice. It's very common to have at least three significant pieces of music - music as the coffin is brought in, a piece of music for a period of reflection during the ceremony, and a piece of music to end the ceremony. It's also usual to have music playing as people enter the place of the ceremony.
We’ll discuss with you who’ll participate in the ceremony? If you’ll have a eulogy (remembrance) and who’ll write it or read it? Whilst we’re happy to write this and read it, should a family member or friend wish to either write it or speak during the ceremony we’ll encourage and support them to do that.
If your loved one has chosen a cremation service and you wish us to make reference to where their ashes will be interred or scattered, we can do that. Or if your loved one has chosen a burial, which follows on from the main part of the ceremony indoors, and you don’t wish to invite others to be present for the final committal or equally you do want to invite everyone to join you at the graveside - we will include any instructions or invitations necessary for you and the other family members and friends present to feel clear about what's taking place.
We can cover practicalities such as will there be a collection after the service or would you like donations towards a particular organisation or charity? If there’s a gathering for refreshments following the service?
We will check with you when we produce a first draft of the ceremony that you are happy with every single word – and if you’re not, then we’ll make whatever changes are needed until you are happy. You have the final say.
Making the Right Choice of Ceremony for your needs
We believe we can offer you the most flexible choice for the content and format of your loved one's ceremony, and we would be very happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have, before you enlist our help.
We've been trained to respond to requests for ceremony in all circumstances including the death of a child, a crisis in faith, sudden violent death, and honouring difficult people. We invite you to express any concerns you have of any nature and around any aspect of ceremony - we're confident we can respond sensitively, respectfully and appropriately to all your needs.
The Ceremony as a Celebration of Life
Most people believe they have three options available to them for the funeral of their loved one. Options one and two being from the religious clergy and leaders, and Humanist celebrants - and you may well find that even if using a Funeral Director they may not enlighten you as to all your options - rather they may begin by asking you what you've decided to have for your ceremony, and if you don’t know about all the options available to you, and your Funeral Director doesn't advise you, you're not able to make an informed choice.
The third option that sadly some people opt for is to not have a funeral ceremony. Whilst we would respect this choice, we would always recommend a few words to help bring closure to those left behind, and to send the person on their way.
The fourth option you may not know about is this - what you need and want – only and exactly - nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Because we believe in freedom of belief, we're not restricted in what we can offer to hold for you - we don't create ceremony according to doctrine or dogma.
When we speak with you we ask you what you would like and how we can help – we don’t sit down and tell you what you can have (if you don’t know of course we’ll guide you and make suggestions). There may be restrictions as to what a Funeral Director can provide, or the venue you have chosen can provide, but we do our best to help you have what you want, and what your loved one would have wanted.
Because we offer ceremonies that are not often held in churches we’re often mistaken for Humanist celebrants so it seems helpful to clarify that as we create ceremony for people of all faiths and no faith, we would be happy to hold the equivalent of a Humanist Celebration of Life without prayers or hymns or reference to the possibility of an afterlife. Equally we'd be happy to create and hold a ceremony which has a religious content and is held in a church.
The ceremonies we create are in response to your needs, not ours. We would respond to a request to hold a ceremony with elements from religion in a church, should the church elders permit us to do so, however should a more orthodox ceremony be fitting for your loved one, the clergy or religious leaders from your religion may be more appropriate and would we hope be able to help.
If a conversation with one of us would help to clarify any question that arises in making a choice with your ceremony, please don’t hesitate to ask.
We Offer an Additional Option for you to Choose From
It's usual for a family or individual to request a ceremony which is very personal and all about the person who has passed on; which also allows them to choose elements that would be classed as ‘religious or spiritual’ ie hymns, prayers, blessings, readings. And very often it brings comfort to think of the person who has passed on, as being somewhere not too far away ie comfort is drawn from mentioning the possibility of, or faith in there being, an afterlife.
We often have Funeral Directors request a Humanist Celebration of Life with hymns and prayers on behalf of a family. We understand the request and vision to be of a very personal remembering ie a Celebration of Life, which we would be happy to hold; and as we don't have any restrictions regarding the content or structure of a ceremony we'd also be happy to include whichever hymns, prayers and readings are requested.
We can hold a religious service
In today’s society many people want ceremony, but they want ceremony which is more inclusive than honouring only one religious path such as a Christian church ceremony. Sometimes the person who has passed on has had their own private and personal faith, but they haven't attended a house of worship so they don't have an obvious link to someone who could hold their funeral ceremony.
You may find a sympathetic vicar or priest willing to hold a ceremony in response to your loved one's wishes, or you may find the vicar or priest will only hold a standard ceremony based around the religion of the house of worship which mentions your loved one once or twice.
Some religious clergy and leaders will respond to your request for a personal element to the ceremony, and some won't, it very much depends on the individual person.
We can hold the equivalent of a Humanist Ceremony
There are many break-off groups from The Humanist Society, but when a Humanist ceremony is being held by a celebrant from The Humanist Society, the general understanding is that the ceremony is personal and all about the deceased loved one but doesn't include any mention of God, or any prayers, readings or hymns that could be classed as spiritual or religious, or any wording suggesting that the deceased loved one has gone on to another life. We can hold a ceremony in this way, or we can hold a very personal ceremony all about your loved one, but include any hymns/songs, readings and prayers, and make reference to any thoughts about an afterlife that bring you comfort.
‘Family and friends were all inspired and touched by you and your sermon, you did us all proud and especially Nana.’
‘You sounded as though you knew Mum amd I feel sure she was really pleased with her send-off.’
‘Thank you very much for making this difficult time easier for us to deal with.’
‘Thanks for your unstinting help when we needed it most.’
‘I was just delighted with the funeral you held for S – it was just right for him.’
‘The ceremony for D is just what she would’ve wanted, thank you.’
‘You did really well to give us such a nice ceremony for my Mum given the difficult circumstances you had to work with, thank you.’
‘Thank you so much for the perfect ceremony for our sister – you captured her perfectly and she would have approved.’
'Everyone who was at the service has said how lovely and fitting it was and that it was the 'best' funeral they had ever been to and for this we have to thank you.'
‘Thank you for such a personal funeral for him – it was so much about him everyone said how fitting it had been, a refreshing change from past experiences of funerals.’
'Absolutely beautiful. You must be a good listener as you captured everything.'