A Civil Funeral is a secular funeral ceremony, that is, it is conducted by someone
who is not a member of the clergy. A Civil Funeral ceremony is a celebration of the
life of the deceased and so we are called Celebrants.
A Civil Funeral is a bespoke ceremony that takes its inspiration from all aspects
of a loved ones life and work,using words and music, that will try and capture the
essence of the person who has died.
A Civil Funeral ceremony is a celebration of the life of the deceased, rather than
a ceremony based on abstract concepts of mortality versus immortality. This has been
shown to be a liberating experience for those who have no strong views either way
andgives much more choice to families.
A secular funeral in the past usually meant a non-religious funeral. That is one
without reference to any deity and with all religious symbols removed from sight
or hidden behind covers.
But times have changed and it is now possible to have a secular funeral that has
a spiritual element to it if that is what the family wants.
To some an atheist ceremony is potentially as inappropriate as a religious ceremony.
That is the critical difference between a Civil Funeral ceremony and a Humanist funeral.
Many people today do not go to church and for them it would not be appropriate to
have a religious funeral.
But if a family want a prayer or a Hymn as part of the Funeral ceremony that is not
In about half of all the Civil Funeral ceremonies that I perform, families choose
to have some religious content.
The celebrant is simply the mouthpiece of the family, his or her skill and experience
guiding them through a very difficult time. Helping them in conjunction with the
Funeral Director to give their loved one a memorable send off.
Families have sight of every word that will be said, before the ceremony, to ensure
they are happy with its content. After the ceremony they can recieve a hard copy
of the ceremony, if they choose,which can become a permanent record of the life
of their loved one.
I have written a piece on the importance of ritual in modern times which can be accessed
by clicking on this link.
There are many different types of secular funeral. All have their place in the scheme
of things, for there are many different opinions on the subject in our society. See
the Links page for more information on some of the choices available.