Why humanist funerals are the opposite of cold

When you think about a humanist funeral, does the word ‘cold’ spring to mind? For some people, the absence of a religious element can signify a lack of warmth. Herne Hill’s humanist minister, Mark Hayford, disagrees.

A traditional funeral in a place of worship will usually include prayers and hymns. It often follows a set pattern and with familiarity can come solace. If you take away that structure, what’s left to take its place, often at a time of great sorrow or trauma? Where does the warmth come from?

‘At the heart of the humanist funeral is the person,’ says Mark. ‘I can’t think of anything more important in the ceremony than talking about the person who’s died and what they meant to you and those they’ve left behind. We hear the most wonderful stories, not just at the refreshments after the service but during the ceremony itself.’ The sense of individuality also extends to the choice of music, which can range over the most fabulous, unique and eclectic choices.

‘All the elements of a humanist funeral often make it the most essential, personal and warm experience,’ he says.

To talk to Mark about humanism or to enquire about a humanist funeral or wedding, please email mark@markhayfordhumanist.com or phone him on 07932 888 737. He’s also at markhayfordhumanist.com. You can watch Mark’s film about the warmth of a humanist funeral.

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