In getting to understand Humanism and Humanist funerals, a look at what they believe in is critical. Humanism refers to a set of non-religious attitudes and beliefs that aim at understanding and explaining the origin and working of the universe based on purely scientific methods. Therefore, there is no belief in the existence of a supernatural being. More to it, Humanism emphasizes the need to uphold high moral standards and decency, for the greater good and happiness of humanity in its entirety. Thirdly, the cardinal belief is that people should observe good values, not in anticipation of a reward or punishment after death, but to live a meaningful life and help others achieve happiness. There is no belief in the afterlife under Humanism. People who subscribe to these set of principles are called Humanists.
Humanists, just like any other person, will conduct ceremonies that are considered important in life. The main difference is that their functions do not incorporate a religious dimension. Some of the functions are:
- Humanist naming ceremonies for babies, step-children or adopted family members.
- Humanist wedding ceremonies or ceremonies relating to partnerships of this nature.
- Humanist funerals and the memorials conducted later on.
An overview of Humanist Funerals
Since Humanists hold non-religious views and principles, Humanist funerals are conducted in an equally non-religious style. In most cases, these funerals are conducted in cemeteries, crematoria or other burial grounds. The ceremony is said to genuinely concentrate on the person who has died.
A typical program for Humanist funerals
Humanist funerals can be held in both indoor and outdoor settings. The program will be different from those of conventional religion-based funerals in a number of ways. It will mostly be undertaken in the following order:
- Music will play as the mourners arrive at the venue
- The ceremony is opened with a word of welcome to all those in attendance
- Thoughts and reflections on life and death, based on a Humanist point of view.
- Words from family and friends, including the eulogy. The tributes will be centered on the life of the deceased, their attributes and the impact they had on friends and family.
- Reflection as music plays
- Closing of curtains or lowering of the coffin
- Closing remarks
- Mourners leave as exit music plays
Memorials will normally be held in a location decided upon, after consultations between a Humanist celebrant, family members involved and friends.
Humanists do not harbor hostility towards those who profess religious beliefs. Consequently, such people are accommodated during these Humanist funerals. Some Humanist funeral officers allow time for reflection and silent prayers for those belonging to different faiths. This is in accordance with their principle of being considerate to other people’s feelings.
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