My spies tell me that the current talk over the “Coronation Street” sewing machines is about humanist funerals. Almost none of the characters know what is meant by this. Someone is able to explain that, essentially it will be a funeral service without any religion in it.
Surely you have to have a religious funeral?
The script-writers are right. Humanist funerals are an option. And, if it’s a true Humanist service, there can be no religious references whatsoever.
So, if you want a religious service, you go to your Church, Synagogue, Temple, Mosque etc. If you want no religion at all, you approach the Humanists. That’s clear enough, but might there also be people wanting something in between?
Is a compromise possible?
People often want something that includes references to God, even if it’s not the God of the conventional religions. Maybe they want a dash of religion (to placate a member of the family, to be ‘safe’ or because the deceased had some affection for one particular religion – or possibly, the deceased was part of a mixed marriage.). There can be many reasons for wanting a compromise service.
Fortunately, although not really in the public consciousness (until Friday?!), there are independent celebrants out there, whose main aim is to work with the client (next-of-kin usually) to create a service that absolutely reflects the wishes of the client (usually, respecting what the deceased would have wanted). In order to build a suitable service, celebrants will borrow from various traditions, suggest poems, readings, songs, hymns, rituals and participation by family or friends – whatever will make the ceremony meaningful and memorable.
The independent celebrant will strive to ensure that not only will there be an opportunity to grieve, but the life of the deceased will be celebrated.
Is this legal?
Just as you can choose the where, when and how, if you are celebrating a birth, as long as it is legally registered; just as you can marry where, when and how you choose, so long as the marriage is legally registered; so you can have the funeral that you choose, as long as the death is legally registered (and you dispose of the body according to regulations).
Why shouldn’t the funeral be just as you want it to be?
A little bird tells me that the “Corrie” funeral will be shown on Friday. I shall be interested to see how it is done, and, of course, whether I could have written and conducted it better!
Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made life-cycle civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.