I was brought up in a non-religious household but both my mother and father had a vicar officiating at their funeral. I knew of no other way. When my 4œ month old son, Merrick, died, he too had a religious funeral. I felt that that can't be right - the final hypocrisies. I was detemined to do something about it, so I joined the British Humanist Association.
Some of their members conducted funerals but on a very ad hoc basis. When we formed Cornwall Humanists one of our priorities was to provide non-religious funerals for those who wanted them. We invited a couple of experienced officiants to come and show us how, and we visited Penmount Crematorium to have a look behind the scenes. At that stage I didn't see a role for me as an officiant but I just sort of got drawn in. I conducted my first funeral in 1992. It is now a major part of my life and to be able to help people through a traumatic stage in their lives gives me great satisfaction.
It's a short (sideways) step to wedding and baby naming ceremonies. Much more joyous occassions - and much longer in the planning.
The advantage of a Humanist ceremony - with the officiants help, you choose the words, you choose the music. (often live) Friends and relations can participate with readings, poems or music. At a wedding you choose the commitment you make to one another, you can swap rings, 'broken tokens', or light candles, as you can at baby namings. You can plant a tree - or two, or a shrub. You get a certificate that can be signed by you, the witnesses or the guardians/mentors, or what ever you like to call the equivalent of God parents. After the event you get a copy of the script.
Penmount Crematorium hold an Annual Service of Remembrance. We felt that we could represent the many non-religious who are cremated there. After approaching the authorities, in the year 2000, we were invited to make a contribution and we have done each year since.
Secular Ceremonies in Cornwall.
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