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One of the most inspired ways to honour the life of the deceased is to make sure that the funeral is the kind of service that they would have liked. The best way to do this is by celebrating their departure with the music, readings and fond memories that they would prefer. At the same time the content of the service should resonate and even be enjoyable to those attending.

As long as you and your minister or celebrant seek to make the service inclusive, authentic and loving, the occasion will be uplifting and harmonious.

The websites listed on the left provide a wealth of valuable information and guidelines. We hope you find them useful. We are proud to be supporters of The Natural Death Centre.

Content Basics

The funeral or memorial service can be carried out in a place of your choice, although culturally and historically a funeral is usually associated with the cremation or interment of the body. A memorial service can be more flexible in terms of time and place.

Your minister should be able to offer you a choice of readings, and you will also be able to use the readings on this website. Possible readings may include letters, poems, extracts from favourite books, anecdotes, memories and ‘memory sketches’.

It’s a good idea to have a minister, celebrant or person you can relate to who can carry out the main ‘management’ of the funeral. The basic components of the service are:

  • Welcome: explanation and introduction
  • Readings: related texts, memories or words about the departed (these may be used throughout the service)
  • Eulogy: words of recollection allowing everyone to remember the departed
  • Committal: concluding words of love or faith that say ‘goodbye’; these are spoken both at a crematorium chapel or at the graveside
  • Closing words, including instructions about the wake, or charity involved

In addition to this there can be further prayers, readings and music played or sung during the service at any point. Music is often an important part of the service, honouring the deceased and also creating a good and positive atmosphere. So long as the funeral is loving, thoughtful and inclusive, one cannot go wrong. 

Timing for Service

The service can take any length of time, however In the case of a cremation, the normal time scale for a funeral is something between 30 and 40 minutes, and this is usually rigorously upheld by the crematorium management. If you feel that the service will need more time to honour the life of the departed you have three choices:

  • Ask the funeral director to book a double time slot
  • Hold a separate memorial service at a time convenient for all involved. If there is a gap between the cremation and the memorial service one may prefer to choose a day special to the deceased, such as a birthday.
  • Hold a structured, inclusive and loving funeral within the given time at the crematorium, followed by a wake somewhere else to include contributions from all those who wish to participate.

Faith and Belief

In a diverse community there will inevitably be people with different views — some may be atheists, others Christian, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Pagans. For this reason most funerals include family and friends who may hold different religious views to those of the departed. Nevertheless it is possible to organise a completely inclusive and harmonious service. One way to do this is to have an interfaith funeral that does not commit to any specific faith view, but still respects the wishes of the departed, whether they were atheist or a person of deep religious belief.

An interfaith funeral is likely to be the most inclusive choice. The readings produced for funerals today are all interfaith readings. If you want more information about interfaith ministers, please go to our contacts page.