Funerals & Memorials

Funerals & Memorials

A Humanist funeral or memorial / commemoration ceremony is a celebration of the life of the deceased, providing an opportunity for family and friends to share their memories and come together for mutual support.  A memorial usually follows some time after a funeral, allowing others to pay their respects, having been unable to attend the funeral. Whatever, the outcome is the same for those who neither subscribe to a belief in, nor expect an afterlife, at a ceremony that focuses on the events, achievements and relationships that make up a life  . . decidedly comforting and meaningful.

We maintain and support a number of registered officiants who can compose and conduct non - religious ceremonies, as alternatives to the traditional religious service.    These ceremonies are increasingly popular and in demand and you may already have experienced one of these, which are held in high regard as being dignified, moving, respectful and very person focused and are not therefore, a service in the religious sense of worship. They do not include prayers, hymns or bible readings, but great care is taken to avoid giving offence to anyone, whatever their personal beliefs.  The  composition of a funeral script develops from a meeting with the bereaved family, normally of around 2 hrs duration. The humanist funeral is a ceremony for everyone and will normally include an opportunity for mourner’s private reflection or prayers. Following the essential family visit and/or contact with peers, our officiant will compose a ceremony which honours the life of the person who has passed and his/her impact on the people who shared key aspects of their life.  There can be readings of prose or poetry and opportunity for direct participation by a family member or friend if so desired.    Whatever, the humanist funeral is totally focused as a tribute, in celebration of the life, character and history of the deceased and almost without exception, we receive a message of appreciation from grateful relative(s), some of which if agreed are often posted to our website as testimonial.

Music, usually chosen by the family, is mostly provided via pre-recorded  CD, but live music can be included by an organist, pianist or other musician, such as a piper with full highland regalia etc !  We can either take full responsibility for the entire ceremony, or advise/help the family on how to do it for themselves, or any permutation within these two options. We can officiate at cremations, interments or memorials which may be held in a crematorium, a funeral director’s service room, at a graveside, a private home or at virtually any other location, subject to the usual logistics etc.

A fee is charged, (see Our Approach) normally dealt with by the funeral director as disbursements. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.      

Non-religious celebration of  a life

As with many situations that we would rather not have to confront, the arranging of a funeral is something that we all have to deal with sooner or later.  Sensitive help is essential as it is difficult in the midst of grief and shock - as in the case of sudden bereavement – to know what to do.  That’s when a funeral director can ease the burden. 

If the family has a minister, support and advice are immediately available but increasingly, with no church contacts or religious ties, people can feel helpless and alone.  For people with no religious beliefs, a Humanist funeral has become a real option. These mainly take the form of a cremation or burial ceremony, with some memorial events conducted when the funeral ceremony has been held further afield or where the deceased has donated his/her body to medical research.

A Humanist funeral ceremony is usually - but not necessarily – conducted at a Crematorium or Burial ground.  It does not involve a minister of religion, makes no reference to faith based concepts but it is personal and dignified and in accordance with the wishes of the deceased and bereaved relatives.  It is therefore unique, created specially for the departed loved one, containing whatever elements those arranging the ceremony wish to have included. It is usual for a segment of the ceremony to be based on a descriptive biographical sketch of the deceased so that the life just ended may be celebrated in an appropriate way.  Such details are determined during an extensive visit to the home of the deceased, or other family member.  As is the case with religious funerals, music, readings or personal contributions from friends or relatives can be included in the composition.  Indeed, since the format and content of the ceremony are matters to be decided by those arranging the event, virtually anything is possible.  A humanist funeral is a ceremony for everyone and for those who observe religious practice, the opportunity for silent reflection is provided.

For anyone preferring a more environmentally friendly approach, a wicker or cardboard coffin or even hessian shroud is an option. Woodland burials can also be conducted by a humanist officiant.

Contact can be made via the chosen funeral director or at the website on which our registered Officiants can be contacted :

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  • Dear Ron,

    Thank you, and firstly, my apologies  for not  e-mailing you on Monday, as promised. Having a copy of the Ceremony for the day of the funeral, which you so kindly sent us, ‘was just what the doctor ordered’.

    Here in Canada, from 4 a.m., the rest of the day was just a blur, as  has been the whole week pretty much !  The Ceremony was  awesome,  loving, caring, respectful, and most appropriate.  A wonderful “send off,” as they say, for my dear brother.  He would have  felt honoured and very proud!

    Heather messaged Craig to ask how everything  went, and how everyone was.  He replied that everything went very well.  Didn’t  receive any calls  or messages  from anyone in Dundee.  I realise we are all grieving.

    By the way, I hope you met my lovely godson, Charles Taylor, from Edinburgh?  I was so happy when his sister ,who lives in South  Africa, told me he was going to be at the funeral.

    Again, thank you, from myself, Don, Graham and Heather, from the bottom of our hearts, for all your help,  kindness and caring. You are, without a doubt, a very special human being, and I hope we  will meet again, or chat on messenger, I really truly would like to know more about Humanism (not sure if that is the proper term). Bye for now and take care!

    Aye   Avril.   xx

  • This brief note of thanks is somewhat overdue as I didn’t have the opportunity to speak to you after the funeral.  We all wish to thank you sincerely for the very moving and accurate representation of Nancy’s life.  She would have been pleased and gratified and you cannot imagine how many compliments we have received about the manner in which the funeral was conducted.  B G & H

    B G & H
  • On behalf of me, Katie, Sam & all the family, a massive thank you for such a lovely ceremony at the crematorium last Friday.  Everyone said you hit the spot & the right tone to sum up my wife Ann. The day went well with more tears, lots of bubbly and many stories in Ann’s remembrance.  Wouldn’t be surprised if you get many more bookings in future.  Many many thanks.  D K & S

    D K & S
  • On behalf of the whole family, I’d like to thank you for the lovely send off you gave my mother in law Ella.  It was a very moving ceremony and you certainly captured Ella’s character  M & family.

    M & family
  • just to thank you for officiating at the funeral of our 19 years old son.  You captured in a very dignified and humanitarian way, the true essence of a fun loving boy.  Unlike other services we have attended, you presented a celebration of a young life which will  live on in the hearts and minds of all who attended.  Our grateful thanks. A & family.

    A & family
  • I want to thank you for the wonderful job you did for George. The family all said it was what George would have wanted.  Afterwards, there was general agreement that they liked the non-religious approach and I must say it was the first time I had heard clapping at the crematorium. Many thanks.  E & family

    E & family
  • Thank you very much for giving Mum the send off she so richly deserved. Everyone thought it was a lovely ceremony and how very fitting.  If ever this way, pop in for a cuppa/dram. M, B & R

    M B & R
  • I suspect some of my siblings and step-brothers will have been in contact, but I wanted to add my own thanks for the touching and dignified funeral commemoration of my step-father, George.  These events are never easy but are markedly more human and relevant when they focus on the individual rather than theism.  In exactly the same way as you conducted the 2004 celebration of my mum's life, the personal details showed George, including his flaws, in a very decent light.  I recently re-read the text for my mum's funeral and it was very reassuring.  We don't have a date yet for scattering the ashes; like my mum, George wants to be in the garden.  It's where they spent most of their time and energy, and to spectacular effect.  Ken and I are now trying to bring it back to some of its glory - 5 years neglect (at least) means it will be a long job.  Anyway, the point is that when we fix a date for the ashes, if you happened to be free, you would be most welcome. K & G families


    K & G families
  • To thank you for the funeral ceremony you presented for our mother Margaret.  You gave a very good picture and account of her and we all took great comfort from your words.  You obviously put great time & effort into researching her life and for that, we are most grateful.  You made our mother’s funeral ceremony a celebration of what was a rather remarkable life.  S & family

    S & family
  • Once again, many thanks for all your love, support and understanding  at such a difficult time in my family’s life.  The ceremony you gave for my mum Joyce was really wonderful and a lovely unique experience - just as she herself would have wished.  I hope our paths cross in happier times in  future – until then all love and thanks to you.  L & family

    L & family
  • On behalf of the family, I thank you for your very caring and eloquent ceremony on Anna’s life. Many people commented on your moving tribute to her and your preparation and attention to detail was commendable and brought solace to the family.  Thanks and best wishes.  M & family

    M & family
  • I’m writing on behalf of my family to thank you very much for the way you conducted my mother’s funeral on Friday.  You certainly captured her spirit and we felt it was almost as if you had known her.   So thank you for making it such a good ending for her, although as you said, she does live on in all of us.  M M & F

    M M & F
  • On behalf of the family, I thank you again for leading us all through a difficult time at the commemoration for Mum.  The whole celebration was very simple and I’m sure she would have approved.  I personally have found the humanist approach to life and death much more appropriate in terms of really getting to the essence of what Mum and Dad’s lives meant and how full their lives really were. I & family

    I & family
  • To thank you for giving a wonderful ceremony at my Dad’s funeral.  You were everything we could have hoped for and your ability to do what you did at such short notice and to extract the relevant information and make a lovely ceremony is both a wonderful talent and skill. When asked about my beliefs, I have now found a name for those which are indeed the basic good in people and that we need to find solutions to our problems, from both within and around ourselves. Though the gathering was small, all commented that it was a very personal and lovely ceremony.  Once again thank you for making things right for us.  K & A

    K & A
  • On behalf of my sister, brother and me, I wanted to say a huge thank you for making our father Tom’s funeral a rather lovely and very special occasion.  You went to a lot of trouble to celebrate his life with us and it felt the perfect ending to his rather colourful life !  Thank you again and very best wishes to you.  H J & S 

    H J & S
  • I said I would tell you on Thursday, and I can honestly say that our “good” was an understatement. I know you had never met our James, or Chunk as he preferred, and yet you managed just by speaking to us to capture perfectly, the essence of who he was and relate it to all present.  It was the first experience any of us had of a humanist ceremony which I didn't know existed until Uncle Dave told us, and it was beautiful. We cannot thank you enough for giving our son such an amazing send off. I apologise for this email format, but do not have your address for a card of thanks.  E & family

    E & family