Since the dawn of time, Humankind has used ritual as a way of helping to come to
terms with the death of a family member. Examples of this practise can be seen in
most Museums around the world. Almost every early grave has examples of grave goods,
personal possessions of the deceased, placed with care in the grave with their mortal
remains, as part of the ceremony. These rituals probably also had a spiritual element
in order to take those participating out of everyday life and give them a feeling
of other worldliness. This comes from a deep need within the human psyche to try
to explain who we are and where we are. Even some animals display symptoms akin to
sadness when a member of their family group dies. Elephants are a good example of
Rituals were also associated with more tangible solid embodiments of what they were
feeling. Using statues and buildings dedicated to the immortal memory of those who
had died to show the special part they had played in their lives as a way of remembering
them. This is clearly shown in sites around the world, from the Pyramids in Egypt
and the Taj Mahal in India to Long Barrows in Wiltshire and the gravestones to be
seen in every Country churchyard.
So it has always been and there is still a need today to mark the death of a loved
one in a way that will enable those left behind to begin to come to terms with their
loss. The most important element in any Funeral is the need to address what those
who are grieving are experiencing.
The majority find comfort in abstract concepts of immortality or mortality, their
beliefs helping to cushion the shock, following the death of a close friend or family
member. But for those who have no strong views either way something else is needed.
Up until about 7 years ago it was difficult to bridge the gap for those who had no
desire to have a full blown religious or alternatively a Humanist ceremony.
All that changed when severalorganisations began training people to become Civil
Funeral Celebrants. Since then other organisations as well as some Councils have
been performing a similar role. The idea of celebrating the life of the person who
has died, making them centre stage during the whole ceremony and using a hymn or
a prayer if that is what the family want has begun to take a hold in the public mind.
Giving people more choice and helping those with little interest in religious or
non religious beliefs to mark the death of their loved one in a special way. A Civil
Civil Funerals have been commonplace in Australia and New Zealand for some time but
there is still a way to go before people in the UK will be asking the FD for this
option as a matter of course. It needs people to ask, as many Funeral Directors are
very conservative in their outlook, preferring tried and tested methods over newer
ideas. The choice of how old do you want the Vicar; Young, Middle Aged or Mature
still being the norm with some, but thankfully not the majority of, Funeral Directors.