Humanist Funerals & Memorials

The hallmarks of humanist funerals are flexibility and personalisation. And since funerals themselves have no legal status, humanist funerals – like all others – can be held in a variety of places, although in practice most are held in crematoria, cemeteries or woodland burial sites. Woodland burial sites are becoming popular and they are particularly suitable for a humanist ceremony.

What distinguishes a humanist funeral is the care and attention celebrants take. The aim is to ensure that the ceremony reflects the true nature of the deceased. The focus is on the joy they shared, and the positive legacy they have left behind.

When you or the funeral director contact the celebrant, they will arrange to visit you. The celebrant will talk to you in detail about the departed. This will enable them to draft a script of the ceremony. You will be able to check that you are comfortable with the ceremony, and it reflects what you want people to remember about the deceased.

The celebrant will draft a tribute to the departed. Together, you will decide on music as well as poems and readings. The celebrant will also integrate any contributions from family and/or friends.

A typical funeral comprises the following elements – a memorial service will be similar (but no committal, for example):

  • Entrance
  • Opening words
  • Thoughts on life and death
  • Poems, readings and music
  • Tribute
  • Reflection
  • Committal/burial
  • Closing words
  • Exit
Humanist Funerals Dorset

The Humanist Funeral Archive

As humanist celebrants we believe that our individual life stories are very important: they are the legacy we leave behind for the people who knew and loved us. That’s why the tribute (or eulogy) is such a central part of a humanist funeral. And we believe these tributes shouldn’t be lost: they deserve to be kept as a record of lives which have been lived.

That’s why we have set up the Humanist Funeral Archive. It is a digital collection of funeral tributes, available for viewing by anyone interested (but with strict privacy tools in place). You may choose to add your loved-one’s funeral tribute to the tribute, or you may like to look at what has been said about others. Our aim is to build up an unrivalled record of precious life stories.

The archive is curated by the Bishopsgate Institute who manage many historical archives. They also look after all the historical documents for Humanists UK and are a well-respected organisation based in London. You can find them online at

You can find out more by visiting: