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Humanist Funerals

Discussion in 'Personal' started by NellyFUF, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    We have just buried an elderly loved one. It was thought by some members of her family that she wished for a humanist funeral and no weeping.
    However most of us have wept continuously all over Christmas. And all through this humanist funeral too. I have never see to much grief at a funeral. Not that I have been to that many really. And never taken much note to the goings on being often in grief myself.
    I did believe it might be OK. It was not.

    So after a 10 minute recap of life - a complex human life full of joy and pain - the meaning of her existence was reduced to utter trivia and unrecognizable trivia at that. An awful poem someone had written for the occasion was cringe worthy and the author did not make it to the funeral. Another long standing acquaintance gave a tearful Reference that was squirmy sentimental. Her sister had provided a poem to be read which was that dreadful "Do not stand at my grave" thing.... I am not dead! At a crematorium? We were invited to reflect (or pray if you Really Have To!) during a blast of Nessum Dorma.
    I have seen better job applications.
    It was awful.
    The only avowed Humanist who probably inspired this idea - an elderly and rather frail lady - she did not make it to the bash. She is so scared of DEATH (sh) that she does not dare make the journey or risk the chance of infection which might cause her to die (sh).
    I am left with a feeling that a room full of people were left pretty distressed. What are we? Just a flying coffin folks. Except that maybe in the words of that poem, we tinkle in the wind and blow in the rain or something. Recycled matter of undecided value and existence.
    All the above might have been OK at a wake, a post ceremony remembrance but at a reception for the coffin it was awkward and inappropriate.
    And as the words "X thought of herself as a Christian" came out of the Humanist Ministers mouth I just curled up inside.
  2. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    And furthermore I suspect that the deceased thought that Humanist is a branch of Christianity! We never found her funeral plan although we believe that there is one somewhere unfound. I am hoping it does not say "A christian service followed by a humanist style memorial style thing".
  3. aspensquiver

    aspensquiver Star commenter

    The only humanist funeral I have attended left me feeling empty. It didn't seem to me to be a way to celebrate life.

    : (
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  4. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I have been to several humanist funerals and they depend very much on whether the celebrant ever got to meet the deceased and how much information and guidance the family and friends were able to give. Christian burials hide the emotion in the ceremony and sometimes the individual is lost too.
  5. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    So sorry Nelly.

    I do know both my sisters struggled with certain elements of Dad's funeral because they are strongly not Christian, but neither of them would have even considered not having a Christian funeral because he was a Christian and we knew what he would have wanted.
  6. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    A bad performance is a disappointment, however it is conceived.

    I have been to funerals where the celebrant rattled through the liturgy in a very detached way and where it had no meaning or relevance for most of the congregation.

    Both my father and father-in-law had non-religious funerals. Both were confirmed atheists and made their intentions clear. The content of both was crafted from scratch with love and the service or performance led by those who loved them most. Neither was a celebration: there was nothing to celebrate. Both were very emotional as we were mourning the loss of loved ones we would never see again and they marked an end. They were opportunities to cry together.
  7. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I don't want a religious ceremony when i haven't had any religious beliefs since i was 16. David Bowie has apparently been cremated without family or friends, as has another man I know of recently. The latter had lived a life in the public eye and will have a memorial service but wanted to be disposed of quickly and in complete privacy. I don't know how i would have felt without a service for my parents, both of whom were Christians. it was nice to see the family and other people who wanted to say goodbye and they lived in a village with a tiny very pretty church so they were touching and supportive events. But for me... i don't want any prayers, it just would be wrong!
    rouxx likes this.
  8. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    My mother-in-law‘s funeral was led by a humanist celebrant and it was really moving and balanced. It was very suitable.
    notsonorthernlass likes this.
  9. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    self deleted a badly worded response.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  10. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    My dad wasn't religious but he was given a Christian funeral in the local church. The vicar talked about someone completely different, I think, but he didn't know him and only had bits and pieces from my mum to go on.
    We gave my mum a Humanist funeral and the family had a lot of input as to what was said by the celebrant. Afterwards, we were given a transcript and recording of the ceremony.
    I want a Humanist funeral. I don't believe in God and I don't want any religious claptrap. And a wicker basket will do fine because it's only going to go up in flames. Bright colours, amusing anecdotes and music I like will be a fitting end for me. People can weep if they like but I'd prefer them to leave smiling.
    smoothnewt and notsonorthernlass like this.
  11. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    Trying again:

    Reading what others have written and thinking - it does depend on who conducts the service. We had all the time in the world to say and have said or say ourselves what was important. It was a "very busy day" at the crematorium - they had THREE services!!!! So unlike often (I hear) in the UK we weren't rushed through anything. Basically told we had as long as we needed.

    Consequently we all felt that Dad had been given a 'proper send off' despite some misgivings over some content by some family members. They understood why that would have been important to Dad.
  12. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    I think that was what did it - we spent a long time with the celebrant discussing what Dad would have wanted, but also making sure our needs were covered too. We needed to say goodbye.

    I missed my Mum's non-funeral (due to being at another funeral the other side of the world in her place) but all she had was Dad and my sisters on their own saying goodbye. This was at her own request.

    Having been given the chance to say goodbye to Dad but not to Mum I do think that some sort of service is needed - the living also need it.
    smoothnewt likes this.
  13. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Funerals are for the living. If it comforts the living to respect and have the sort of funeral they think or know the departed would have wanted, then that's what you do. If you don't really know what the departed would have wanted then you need to do what works for you.
    ValentinoRossi and smoothnewt like this.
  14. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    My Dad had a Humanist funeral . He had been a practising Catholic for most of his life.It was far more a celebration of his life than the Requiem Mass I attended for the husband of a friend which in spite of the deceased wishes ( ie uplifting and not miserable ) was exactly that. More concerned with the process than the person I felt.
    smoothnewt likes this.
  15. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    One recent funeral I attended had John Legend (?). Another had Whitney Houston. A mixture of the deceased's wishes and the bereaved. Not my taste by any means but wasn't at all undignified.

    I gave the eulogy at my mother's funeral. Abide With Me. Bread of Heaven. The Funeral Service. Also dignified.

    Sorry it didn't go terribly well. But you do have to accept that, in these days when we can dream up our own services rather than going CoE by default, sometimes they can be trite affairs.

    The worst mishmash I ever went to was a civil partnership ceremony. That was outstandingly embarrassing. (They split up 3 months later.)
  16. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I have been to good dignified humanist ceremonies that have been celebrations of the life of the deceased. I have been to good Christian funerals where the same has happened.
    It depends on the celebrant, the family and friends and what they want.
    The funeral is for the living to remember and move on.
    rouxx, nomad and grumpydogwoman like this.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You usually feel happier (if you're child of the deceased) if you know you have followed their instructions/wishes/hints.

    But there will ALWAYS be those who mutter darkly that you got it wrong and what s/he REALLY wanted was a trumpet fanfare and a funeral barge on the Clyde.
    Didactylos4, rouxx, coffeekid and 2 others like this.
  18. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I see David Bowie had a private cremation to which no friends or family were invited. Very sensible.
  19. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    My sister wanted a coach and black horses for my mother because her dad used to be a coalman and mum, as a child, 'liked the horses that pulled the cart'. I see.
    After a few choice words from me and an estimate of what it would cost, she agreed black cars would be better.
    Don't get me started on the massive floral tribute she ordered on behalf of her precious son, ignoring my children. And then there were the thank you cards...
    We didn't speak for two years.
  20. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    I've been thinking about David Bowie's choice. I can understand why he might want to avoid it becoming a media circus intruding on his family. I can also see how the disposal of his earthly remains and a remembrance/celebration of his life could be two separate things. I'm not sure if I'd choose that for myself it would depend on how my remaining family felt about it and I'm sure Bowie planned everything meticulously with his family.

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