Being a Funeral Celebrant I have conducted both types of funeral ceremonies, their can be a slight difference between the ceremonies. Both types of services can be held at a crematorium, cemetery or some consecrated grounds.
I have been honoured to conduct such ceremonies at Cam Valley Crematorium which is located near Saffron Walden in Essex and also at Arbory Trust which is located just outside Cambridge. Both are wonderful places to hold a Celebrant led Funeral Ceremony.
A Humanist Ceremony will have no religious content whatsoever as the families and their loved one had no religious beliefs. On the other hand a Celebration of Life Ceremony may contain some religious content in the form of a small bible reading or even everyone joining in to recite the Lords Prayer. Both ceremonies are likely to contain some music, which is normally a special selection of favourite music of the deceased person. I have witnessed musical choices which are upbeat, solemn or amusing. If the crematorium has media facilities and most do, a photographic slide show can be shown with some accompanying music. This is such a lovely way for the family and friends to remember their loved one. This can be the most emotional part of the ceremony.
Most crematoriums have the facility to have a live stream for fiends and family who cannot to watch the ceremony remotely. Such is modern technology a cemetery ceremony can also be streamed live to friends and family. A computer link is sent to everyone who would like to watch the proceedings and they log into the system at the time of the ceremony to view.
Both of these ceremonies will tell the life story of the deceased person. I always meet with the grieving families prior to the ceremony to offer my support during what is an extremely difficult time and also to gain a picture of their loved ones life. The stories of their life will be told during the ceremonies and their can be funny stories which may raise a respectful laugh. Family members often wish to tell stories of their loved ones and this does indeed add a personal touch to the ceremony.
Often during the ceremonies beautiful rituals will take place. As with religious ceremonies there comes a point in the ceremony when it is time to say goodbye. At this time close family members may wish to place flowers with their loved one or even something meaningful like football tops or scarves, crossword puzzles or a favourite item of clothing. I have even watched as people release a white dove as a special tribute.
Humanist and Celebration of Life Ceremonies are every bit as respectful and meaningful as religious ceremonies. They are an option for people who wish to have a celebrant led ceremony with either no religious content or a little religious content.
Telling someone’s life story, listening to family tributes and wonderful music, watching the emotion on peoples faces during the ceremony and knowing that I am playing a small part in assisting with family grief and being part of a special ceremony, a loved ones final ceremony is indeed one of the most fulfilling experiences I will ever Know.