The loss of a loved one is without doubt, amongst the most difficult and distressing of experiences. A Humanist ceremony can be a way in which you can mark the event in a sensitive and meaningful way that celebrates the life of the deceased, and acknowledges how your own lives have been touched by them.
When I meet a bereaved family, I ask them to tell me about the life-line of the departed, and of their own memories and anecdotes whilst I take copious notes. Quite often they say, “but there’s really not that much to say about him/her”, but I find that every-one has a story, and very soon I have more than enough to write a script. If I have a problem at all, it is sometimes not being able to keep all of the wonderful material in.
On the day of the funeral I attend and conduct the ceremony, which is written in such a way that it is an honest and rounded representation of the loved one’s life and achievements, perhaps interspersed with liberal amounts of humour.
Because each tribute is crafted around the life of the departed, it will by definition be unique. No two are identical. The threads which you are likely to find common in any Humanist ceremony are qualities such as honesty and respect and most of all, it will be uplifting.
There is a certain irony in the fact that I often find myself in the position of recounting the life story of someone I had never known, to a group of people who, not only knew the deceased, but perhaps also loved them. I am charged with the responsibility of ensuring that their memory is respectfully and meaningfully recognised. One of the greatest compliments I can receive following a funeral ceremony, is when I am asked if I knew the deceased. If I have been able to convey warmth and compassion in my tribute, I know that I have done my job well, and that is no less than the deceased and their loved ones deserve.