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A guide to non-religious funerals

Although funerals have traditionally been held at religious establishments or led by a religious leader, many families are now choosing to move away from the traditions of a religious funeral, instead choosing a non-religious funeral service to remember their loved one. A non-religious funeral allows families and friends to pay tribute to the deceased and celebrate their life without hymns, prayers and religious readings.


Do I have to have a religious funeral?

Funerals in the UK can be very flexible, although there are some guidelines and rules that vary from establishment to establishment. The only law that governs funerals comes from the Births and Deaths Registration Act, which states that the body must be disposed of in the correct way - which means there isn’t actually any legal obligation to even have a funeral. You can read more about whether a funeral is the right option for you and your loved one in our do you have to have a funeral? article.

With less than half of the UK population* now recognising themselves as religious, an increasing number of people are now choosing non-religious funerals to say goodbye to their loved ones.

There are many alternatives to a traditional religious funeral. If you or your loved one are not religious, a humanist funeral, family-led funeral or direct cremation may be something to consider.


Non-religious funeral options

Humanist funerals

A humanist funeral is both non-religious, and non-spiritual; they focus on the life the person led, the relationships they forged and the legacy they left behind. The person who died does not need to have recognised themselves as a ‘humanist’ to have a humanist funeral – most humanist funerals do not talk about humanism at all. This is therefore one of the easiest options if the person who has passed away wasn’t religious but would still like the common elements of a funeral.

A humanist funeral includes a non-religious funeral service, led by a person known as a ‘celebrant’ and focuses on the person and their life, rather than religious readings or rites. A humanist funeral can be much like a traditional funeral service, just with non-religious music and poems instead of hymns and prayers. The heart of a humanist funeral is the tribute section, which typically lasts up to 15 minutes. Celebrants work with the family of the person who has passed away to create a unique and meaningful funeral.

Humanist funerals are a great option if you want to create a personalised funeral delivered by a great public speaker, without having to rely on a religious leader.

Within reason, a humanist funeral can be held anywhere although most are held at crematoria, cemeteries or woodland burial sites.


Family-led funerals

Anyone can conduct a non-religious funeral service. A lot of people opt for a non-religious celebrant, but if handing over the important job of leading the funeral service to someone who didn’t know the person doesn’t sound appealing, then leading the funeral yourself with friends or family members could be an excellent option. Family-led funerals can also be a much more personal way for close friends and family to say goodbye and gives everyone a chance to get involved if they want to.

A great way of holding a family-led funeral but still getting the correct guidance and support is by using our Attended Funeral service. An Attended Funeral is organised over the phone by our funeral arrangers who will be on hand to help you make all of the necessary arrangements. You will have the freedom to arrange a funeral service in a crematorium chapel; as with any funeral, you can include music, readings and eulogies in the ceremony. We’ve listed some popular non-religious funeral readings and popular funeral songs you may want to include in the service.

With the funeral service carefully arranged by you, we will take care of the essential and practical elements of the funeral, allowing you to arrange the service as you wish. Attended Funerals are ideal if you’re keen to keep things personal, but aren’t comfortable arranging the whole funeral yourself.

You can arrange an Attended Funeral with Simplicity from £1,895.


Direct cremation

If you don’t want any fuss once you’re gone, or if the person who has passed away didn’t want a funeral ceremony or service at all, then a direct cremation (or direct burial) could be the best option. This type of non-religious funeral takes place without any mourners present and without a service beforehand. A direct cremation is a good option if any kind of ceremony, whether it is religious or non-religious, is unwanted.

After a Simplicity direct cremation, your loved one’s ashes will be scattered in our gardens of remembrance or can be returned to the family upon request, at an additional cost. Many families opt for this simple funeral option in favour of holding a memorial service or celebration of life in honour of their loved one, at a time and place away from the crematorium, often with their loved one’s ashes present. You may alternatively wish to scatter your loved one's ashes.

Our direct cremation service costs from just £995, and is available throughout the whole of mainland Great Britain.


Arranging a non-religious funeral with Simplicity

Arranging a non-religious funeral with Simplicity is a simple, straightforward process. Most of the arrangements can be made over the telephone by our expert team. Unlike a traditional funeral, you will not have to visit a funeral home or need several appointments with a funeral director.

Unlike a traditional funeral, our funerals take place without a procession beforehand, so there is no requirement for costly extras such as a hearse or limousines. The funeral will take place at one of our preferred crematoria, local to the place of rest.

All of our funeral options allow you the freedom and flexibility to celebrate the life of your loved one in your own way.

Contact us to arrange a non-religious funeral for your loved one. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so we’re always here when you need us.



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