As more than 80 per cent of the population of the UK don’t regularly attend a place of worship other than for christenings, weddings and funerals, the move towards alternative funerals is understandably gaining ground.
If you don't have religious convictions, you may not want a religious funeral. Here are various alternative funeral ceremonies.
Civil funerals. A funeral observing the wishes, beliefs and values of the deceased and their families, not by the belief of the person conducting the funeral. Can contain a religious element, though mainly secular.
DIY funerals. The family decides to do as much of the funeral arrangements themselves as possible. Professional advice from the funeral director is advisable.
Green funerals. Where the environmental damage caused by the funeral is reduced as much as is possible or appropriate. Can be taken by a religious officiant.
Home funerals. Gaining popularity in the US, these are where the body is dressed and cared for at the family home rather than the funeral home. It can ease the grieving process. The funeral event can be religious or secular.
Humanist funerals. The ceremony is taken by a trained humanist officiant (or celebrant). There is no religious content. Family members and friends play a bigger role in reading eulogies and tributes. There is a period of quiet reflection.
Interfaith funerals. Funerals taken by trained interfaith minister who recognise that those present are likely to be from many faiths and of no faith.
Modern British funerals. A mixture of religious and secular, usually a church service but with increasing secular content such as secular music and readings. Known also as ’mix ’n’ match’ funerals.
Spiritualist funeral. A tribute to the life of someone who believed (or whose family believe) that they have gone to the ’Spirit World’, and a recognition that eventually they will be united with the deceased.
Woodland burials. Burials at designated Woodland burial sites. These are green funerals as the body, interred in a bio-degradable container, is usually marked by planting a tree.
Planning an alternative funeral. If you, or a loved one whose funeral you are planning, want an alternative funeral, you should plan it before the death. Discuss it with close family members and your executor. Write down the details, and make it part of your funeral wishes document.