When you arrange a farewell, you'll often be asked if you'd prefer a 'religious' service (traditional service with a faith leader) or 'non-religious' service (usually celebrant led).
The label 'non-religious' is unhelpful, as if you feel a celebrant-led service is right for you, you still have the choice to incorporate the beliefs of a person of faith or none.
As an independent celebrant, I am able to respect and include all worldviews.
Here are the three services types I offer:
Humanist ceremonies focus on the life and legacy of the loved one, with a warm 'celebration of life' tribute to the deceased.
A humanist ceremony embraces the philosophy of secular humanism. This worldview celebrates 'the one life we have'.
Humanists have an absence of belief in any deity or an afterlife; instead there's a positive belief in human nature: finding meaning, hope and happiness in this life.
Humanist ceremonies may also incorporate:
a favourite reading from a book on science or nature
poetry or stories reflecting humanist values and themes, such as empathy, reason, and curiosity
a philosophical reflection on life and death
Many people request these services because of their reputation for being the most personalised.
There will almost always be some people of faith attending, so during the Reflection section of the service, you can have an invitation for private contemplation of beliefs if you wish.
You don't have to be 'a humanist' to choose a humanist style ceremony; most people aren't. It should only be called a 'humanist service' if it is led by an actual humanist.
I'm the sole N E Lincs celebrant qualified to lead these authentic ceremonies, having trained and been accredited to Humanist Ceremonies (part of Humanists UK). I now work as an independent celebrant to enable me to reflect all belief types.
Secular a.k.a. Non-Religious
A 'non-religious' service is secular:
It will be without religious or spiritual content, so there'll be no prayers, hymns, religious rites, or faith readings.
It's the safe choice if the deceased was not religious, if they were unsure about their beliefs, or their beliefs were simply not known.
It's also a sensitive option if there are people attending the ceremony from a range of faith backgrounds.
It certainly doesn't mean it is a lesser choice, though, or not a 'proper' funeral. It's the most popular choice for funerals I conduct.
The service will have carefully chosen, appropriate content to honour your loved one.
It is person-centred usually with a tribute or eulogy at the heart of it.
It may have as much - or little - music, readings, poetry, and symbolic ritual as you wish. In practise, secular services led by independent or civil celebrants are now so similar to humanist ones, that people (mistakenly) use the terms interchangeably.
Don't worry about the labels. With me as your celebrant, you will have the ceremony that is right for your person, regardless of what it's called.
Semi-Religious or Spiritual
Semi-religious or spiritual services are for when you don't desire the formality & standardisation of a funeral led by an ordained faith leader.
But you do wish to lightly acknowledge the beliefs, or upbringing, of your loved one with some inclusion of religious or spiritual content.
Perhaps your loved one was not, or was no longer, a church-goer, or member of a religious community, but they had some beliefs they would have wanted to be respected.
If so, you may wish to have a service with some of these:
a traditional prayer or reading (such as The Lord's Prayer or the 23rd Psalm)
a sung hymn
a reading from a sacred book or inspirational text reflecting their beliefs or practises - whether Christian, or from any another tradition
consoling spiritual poetry referencing Heaven, the soul, or angels.
I've led ceremonies that honour beliefs including: - Paganism - Buddhism - Taoism and more; just ask if you'd like some acknowledgement of faith.
If you'd prefer for a family member or close friend who follows the faith to lead a prayer or recite a reading for your loved one, rather than myself, I'll support them in doing so.
Whatever creed or philosophy, I'll craft an appropriate and meaningful farewell for you. As your Lincolnshire funeral celebrant, I'll lead a service for you at any Grimsby, Alford, Scunthorpe or Hull crematorium or cemetery, and the region between.