The humanist view rejects the idea of an afterlife and interprets death as the end of an individual’s consciousness. They believe that human beings are simply another part of nature and that death is nature’s way of cleansing. Through death, we clear the way for new life. Humanists believe that an individual’s happiness and experiences are engraved into history. The deceased will live through the memories and experiences that his loved ones hold in their hearts.
The humanist funeral serves as a closure for friends and family. It helps conclude the relationships that existed between the deceased and his loved ones. And, expressing emotions allows loved ones to come to terms with their painful feelings. The humanist funeral service can be held before internment or cremation, or as a memorial service after the body has been laid to rest. The traditional service begins with a 15- or 20-minute musical introduction while guests take their seats.
The service includes:
- A short introduction that states the name of the deceased and the reasons for the service.
- A reading that addresses the nature of death and the kinship that humans share with the earth.
- Additional musical selections.
- A second meditation, or reading, that more directly addresses human sorrow. It explains the immortality of the experience and feelings that were shared between the deceased and his loved ones.
- Brief personal remarks of tribute spoken by family or friends.
- A final reading may reflect upon human existence and its meaning. Here, guests are encouraged to live an ethical, happy, and good life.
- A final musical arrangement may be followed by announcements about internment.
Humanists view life as a chance to have stimulating, joyful experiences and to live an ethical and good life. The humanist’s funeral affirms these beliefs and celebrates the passing life.