Ceremony types according to belief

Funeral ceremony options: a meaningful farewell

Choosing an appropriate format for a funeral ceremony is one of the most difficult tasks that those organising a funeral have to undertake.

In practice, however, those closest to the deceased often know, instinctively, the type of funeral ceremony that will best celebrate the passing of a unique and much missed individual.

Also, it is reassuring to know that those entrusted with this important decision can rely upon the guidance of their chosen funeral director to help them structure a truly meaningful farewell ceremony.

Funeral ceremony options

Despite the huge diversity of formats for funeral ceremonies, worldwide, it is significant that all share certain common elements. These include the enduring human need to express grief, celebrate life and acknowledge the passing of a loved one with some form of ritual.

Choosing a meaningful farewell ceremony

Whether you choose a conventional religious, non-religious, semi-religious service, or a more contemporary secular, humanist or environmentally friendly ceremony, your choice should be guided by the express wishes of the deceased, if previously stated, or the inclination of those nearest and dearest. Other deciding influences include cultural and social preferences, as well as religious tradition.

The following list of funeral ceremony options is by no means exhaustive; it merely covers a few of the most commonly encountered funeral ceremonies seen in the Western World:
  • Christian Service: typically followed by cremation or burial; but, even within the scope of a Christian service, the emphasis may vary considerably, depending on the particular denomination of faith involved
  • Humanist Funerals: Humanists abide by the overriding principle of mutual respect for other living beings, in the here-and-now, with no prospect of an afterlife. Humanist ceremonies are, therefore, non-religious, highly individualised and based on the belief that this life is finite and should be celebrated accordingly
  • Woodland / Green Burials: Growing concern for the environment, as well as increased disaffection with traditional religious funeral ceremonies has driven demand for green and woodland burials, in recent times. Simplicity is key with these types of ceremonies conducted by professional officiants; the focus throughout is on making the ceremony meaningful and reflective of the life and views held by the deceased
  • Secular / Civil Funerals: an increasing number of the Western population is opting for a civil funeral celebration that eschews a religious framework in favour of a ceremony that is more in keeping with contemporary thinking and values
  • Funerals without ceremonies

    A mistaken belief exists that a ceremony is an essential requirement for any funeral. In reality, a funeral without a ceremony or service is perfectly acceptable, particularly where the deceased has previously indicated thus.

    In summary, a funeral ceremony in a religious establishment or a crematorium chapel is not a prerequisite for any funeral. Provided the legal requirements relating to death and the disposal of the body have been adhered to, the way we say goodbye to someone is entirely at our discretion.