Today, requests for non-religious funerals are increasing, but many do not know the first thing about planning funerals that do not fall in line with the usual religious ceremony that most of us are used to.
Also known as humanist funerals, non-religious funerals, as the name suggests, are funeral ceremonies which have no religious elements to it. They are simply a ceremony where loved ones say goodbye to a deceased love one while honoring and celebrating the life they lived.
If you have to plan a non-religious funeral, here are some tips to help you out:
The key to planning a humanist funeral is to keep it as personal as possible, with the focus never shifting away from your loved one and the life that he/she lived. A funeral has no set rules and requirements, so remember that you are free to customize the ceremony however you see fit.
Usually, a priest or a vicar leads a religious funeral service. But since they do not seem to be a great fit for a non-religious funeral ceremony, you can go with a celebrant who will be happy to accommodate your wishes. You can even have someone close to the deceased lead the funeral.
Finding non-religious readings for a humanist funeral does not have to be difficult. You can always turn to poetry and other well-known writers for words of strength and comfort. For example, a few lines from a favorite book of the deceased or their favorite poem would make a great reading while also adding a personal touch.
Hymns are often sung at funerals, so if you don’t want to miss this at a humanist funeral, then you can choose non-religious songs which celebrate the life that was lived. It can also be a favorite song of the one to whom the funeral has been dedicated.
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Organizing and planning a funeral all on your own can be a challenging task. Considering that you had to deal with the trauma of having lost someone close to you, planning their funeral with a whirlwind of emotions can be difficult.
Fortunately, at such times, you can always seek help from a funeral director. Funeral directors are professionals who've been trained to efficiently plan funerals and take care of every aspect so that the family of the deceased have lesser things to worry about. Below, we see the benefits of hiring a funeral director:
With a funeral director to carry out everything on your behalf, you and your family do not have to spend time trying to figure out where to get a casket, where to get flowers, where the service will be held, etc. In other words, a funeral director takes care of every aspect, giving you the time and space that you need to mourn your loved one.
Funeral directors know information that you don’t and have contacts that you don't necessarily keep. This makes it easy for them to provide a service exactly the way you want. This ability to deliver a high level of personalization is what makes funeral directors professionals after all.
Funerals often come with a lot of paperwork and legal documentation. Having to take care of these matters without a clear head leaves a lot of room for mistakes. And since these are important paperwork, they would need your utmost attention across every small detail. Whether it is a death certificate, insurance claims or burial site contracts, a funeral director will take charge of all these and more.
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Funerals are something that no one likes to talk about. Whether it is pre-planning your own funeral, or someone else’s funeral, or just the topic of funerals in general, it is often considered an uncomfortable subject. Since it is hardly talked about, the topic of funerals has become shrouded with misconceptions and mysteries.
There may be a lot of facts about funerals that may surprise you. Here, we talk about some of these interesting facts:
Today, flowers are brought to funerals as a symbol of sympathy, to show the family of the deceased that we are sorry for their loss and we are grieving with them. However, in the olden times, people brought flowers so as to promote goodwill in the afterlife to the spirit of the deceased.
An Irish wake is often associated with loud music being played. This was originally done because in the olden days, people believed playing loud music would keep evil spirits at bay. In addition to this, it was an opportunity to confirm whether the deceased was really dead. If not, they believed the loud music would wake them up.
In the U.S, all fifty states, except for nine, are free to conduct funerals on their own without being required to hire the services of a funeral director. These nine states include Connecticut, Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, and Nebraska.
Since most funerals have a wooden casket in the U.S and it is the most commonly used for burials, many tend to think that burying the deceased in wooden caskets is the norm. However, you can choose other options such as willow and bamboo caskets, and even coffins.
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Words always find a way to comfort us, even during the most trying times. But sometimes, when we are so overwhelmed with emotions after losing a loved one, words from other people who may have gone through exactly what you are feeling may help you express yourself better.
Here are a few of the most famous poems that can help you express your emotions at the funeral of a loved one:
This poem by Emily Dickinson reminds us that life is precious because we only get to live it once. The lines:
“That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet”
are simple, direct and resonate with people, teaching all of us that a funeral is not just a time to mourn, but a time to celebrate a life lived.
In her short poem named "Afterglow," Helen Lowrie Marshall aptly captures the essence of how we should remember our loved ones after they are no longer with us, making the poem ideal for someone who has brought you immense happiness during your time with them.
One of the most popular funeral poems, this one talks about how even after death, your loved ones are never really gone because they are always with you in spirit everywhere and the memories you have of them still matter.
Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore, in his poem "Farewell My Friends," talks about how beautiful it is to live your life well, for as long as it lasts until your time here on earth is over, and you have to say goodbye to your friends.
This short but sweet poem by Robert Burns pays tribute to someone who has a "virtuous heart," someone who is a "friend of man, truth, and age." It is ideal for someone who liked to live their lives most genuinely.
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Pallbearers are those people who carry or escort the casket at the funeral of a loved one. Usually pallbearers are close friends or family members of the deceased, and they can be either men or women.
Being a pallbearer is a great honor and signifies that the pallbearer had a very special relationship with the deceased. Usually there are about six to eight pallbearers in a funeral as there are eight handles--three on each side, and one each at the front and back in a casket. Depending on the design of the casket, sometimes there may only be the handles on the sides.
The responsibility of a pallbearer is to carry the casket from the venue of the funeral to the hearse or funeral coach. Then, if there is a cemetery burial after the funeral service, the pallbearers must carry the casket from the hearse to the site of burial. Moreover, if the funeral service is closed casket, the pallbearers usually bring in the casket at the start of the ceremony. However, for an open casket funeral, the casket will already be placed at the venue by the staff of the funeral home you have hired.
How to choose a pallbearer
When choosing a pallbearer, it is important to keep in mind that this is a very special and honorable responsibility which should be filled only by the people who were extremely close to the deceased. Whether it is a father, mother, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, cousin, husband, wife, or best friend, it is crucial that a pallbearer is emotionally, mentally and physically capable of carrying out the task.
If any person is unfit mentally, emotionally or physically, they can serve as an honorary pallbearer. This means that they can walk alongside the actual pallbearers without having to carry the casket.
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