Humanist, Spiritual and Non-Religious Funerals in Bedfordshire - The Basic Structure of a Funeral 

It may be useful for you, before I arrive for our family visit, to know the basic structure of a funeral which takes place either in a cremation chapel or a burial chapel. Music can be played in a cremation chapel, but this is more difficult in a burial chapel as generally, the facilities are not provided.

The ceremony itself will be of either 30 minutes, or 45 minutes duration. This depends entirely upon the crematorium. Within those times we must allow five minutes at the beginning and the end to allow the congregation to enter and to leave. This means therefore that in the case of a 30-minute ceremony, 20 minutes are allocated for the actual ceremony itself. This may seem like a short time but it is between us to ensure that this time is filled with beautiful, appropriate and thoughtful content.

To arrange a non-religious funeral in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire or Oxfordshire, 

contact me on: 

  07458 985365







Six basic structural elements to non-religious funerals 




Entry into the Crematorium chapel

You will be asked to decide whether you want the coffin to be brought in with the family walking behind or, if you desire, the congregation to be present in the chapel before the coffin is carried in. This decision can be made minutes before the beginning of the ceremony but usually it is decided at the family visit. You can of course change your mind on the day.






Words of welcome and introduction

When the coffin has been brought in and the bearers and funeral director have left, I begin the ceremony with words of welcome and a brief introduction.

Because this is a non-religious service I will spend a few moments talking about life and death; for example, if we don’t believe in life after death as religious people might, how do we handle the very concept of death. These words are designed to be reassuring to those present.





The tribute

The tribute, which is the longest part of the ceremony, follows. This can be me speaking for the entire duration, or it can be a combination of me and others, based upon what you decide during our family visit. If you request other people to speak it is very important that I have a copy of the words that they will use. This is for two reasons. Firstly, we are limited to the time frame of the ceremony (30 or 45 minutes) and I must know how long the various people speaking will take for their contribution. Secondly, from time to time the person reading will break down. This is natural as it is a sad time and emotions often run high. If I have the words I can either help the person reading or I can take over the reading myself.






Reflection and silence

After the tribute we have a period of reflection. This constitutes a few words from me followed by a piece of music which has been chosen by the family, followed, often by a period of silence. At the start of the reflection I will invite everyone to take part, either by thinking about the deceased and their memories of that person, or in the likely event that there would be people of religious faith present, this is a time for them to pray silently if they wish.






The committal

The period of reflection is followed by the committal. Whilst the entire funeral can be stressful and highly emotional for the family and friends, it is often the committal which is the most difficult. This is the time when the last words are spoken and that is the time when we say goodbye to the body of the deceased. As mentioned earlier the family can decide beforehand whether they want the curtains to remain open after the committal or to have the curtains closed.






Words of closing

The final part of the ceremony are the closing words which come from me. I will say words which will attempt to unite and comfort those present. Then before introducing the final piece of music and inviting the congregation to leave, I shall make any announcements, for example thanking carers, thanking people who have travelled a long way, and, if relevant, inviting the congregation to meet at some other venue for refreshments.


non-religious funeral in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire






I can help organise your non-religious funeral in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire or Oxfordshire.

Whilst the above is a typical format, it can, to a point, be rearranged, but it must contain the six elements I have described. Non-religious funerals are certainly flexible and I would be happy to assist you in organising, remembering and celebrating the life of your beloved.


If you have questions or would like to book my service, please call on: 07458 985365

Aidan Bartley MA (Oxon)

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