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What is a non-religious funeral?

At a funeral this week I heard a lady say “I’ve always wanted a religious funeral service, but having seen this celebration of life I have now changed my mind!”. The funeral celebrant was overjoyed to hear this praise, as was I. You may be wondering why this may have been so and what is a celebrant? Well this blog will hopefully explain what happens at a non-religious funeral, what a celebrant is and why you may consider one for your funeral.

Funeral services can be religious or non-religious. It’s all dependent upon the beliefs of the person who has died. Religious funerals can be seen as more traditional, however there is a growing trend towards celebration of life funerals and farewells. According to the Sun Life Report attitudes are changing and in 2020, half of all funeral services were described as a celebration of life, which is up 4% from 2019.

If you need help to organise a religious or non-religious funeral, Tom Owen and Son funeral directors can help. Please get in touch with one of our team here.

What happens at a non-religious funeral?

A non-religious funeral is known as a celebration of life. They can contain religious readings and hymns if you choose, however they are designed to celebrate the life of the person who has died. There may be music, readings including poems and personal tributes but without the prayers you would expect in a religious funeral. Typically, the content could be:

  1. Music – this could be a favourite song, band or singer. There usually has to be three to four pieces; for the entry, exit and in the middle as a reflection piece.
  2. Readings or poems – these could be read by a family member or friend. Perhaps the words are poignant or it has meaning to you or your loved one.
  3. Visual tributes – another great way to share memories is to display photos on boards or via a slideshow, sometimes accompanied by music or playing while the eulogy is read;
  4. Other tributes – this may be funny stories shared by a friend or family member.

A non-religious funeral can take place anywhere; a cemetery chapel, one of the crematoriums locally (Colwyn Bay Crematorium, Denbighshire Memorial Park, Bangor Crematorium), a natural burial site or a hotel, funeral home or other suitable venue. Perhaps there is a place that is special to you or your loved one, where you would like the funeral to take place. If you speak to your funeral director we can look to arrange that for you if possible.

A non-religious funeral will often be conduced by a funeral celebrant but can also be family members or friends.

What is a funeral celebrant?

Most non-religious funerals will be conducted or officiated by a funeral celebrant, however some people prefer to appoint a family member or friend to do this.

Funeral celebrants are qualified in officiating funeral services. They tend to be appointed by us as funeral director, however you are welcome to suggest your own. At Tom Owen and Son Funeral Directors, we pride ourselves on appointing a funeral celebrant who we believe is the right match or fit to you and your loved one. Perhaps it’s a characteristic the funeral celebrant displays, or a shared love of a hobby or interest. We believe if we get the ‘right’ funeral celebrant for you, they will be able to get the most out of you and therefore give the best farewell to the person who has died. We achieve that by asking you some key questions during our first meeting.

What is the role of the funeral celebrant?

The role of the funeral celebrant is to support you and your family from the first meeting until the end of the service. They will ensure that your wishes, and those of your family are carried out for your loved one. They will officiate on the day and ensure the service runs smoothly without feeling rushed. In addition, they can also help you prepare a eulogy that is a genuine reflection of the person that has died.

The funeral celebrants that we work with here in Llandudno and the surrounding area, will arrange an initial telephone call with you once they have been appointed. This will be followed by a face to face meeting, if you wish, at your home or our offices if that is more convenient. The funeral celebrant will spend time listening to you, and making note of your wishes. They will ask questions about their character, life story, interests and memories so they can build up a picture of what made them special.

Each funeral celebrant will then work on an individual order of service, taking into account all of the information they have been provided and send you a draft to review. You can amend this and add further information if you wish.

What does a funeral celebrant cost?

For the celebrants that we work with, their fees range from £150 to £200. We pay this on your behalf initially, then include this fee on your final bill.

If you are interested in finding out more about how a celebration of life could work for you or your loved one, please get in touch here.