How to arrange a secular funeral

When your closest companions part, a funeral which respects and celebrates the way they lived their life can help bring closure. If your friend or family member was non-religious there are various options for secular funerals. Speak to funeral directors about the options for non-religious ceremonies; they will be able to help you decide if one of the following would be the best way to look back on your loved one's life.

Celebrants and non-religious readings

Rather than contacting a minister, your funeral director will be able to put you in touch with a secular celebrant. This person can lead the day's proceedings, acting in a similar role to a minister by speaking to the assembly and inviting people to speak in turn. There is no set script so planning the event may seem like a daunting blank page. The celebrant can help you structure a funeral with music, readings and tributes from loved ones.

You may also wish to conduct the ceremony yourself or with the help of family and friends. They will be able to help choose non-religious readings, such as passages from the deceased's favourite books. Prose and poetry selections suitable for funerals can also be found online.


When the deceased does not wish to be buried in a religious site, cremation provides a good alternative. A service can be held at the crematorium to commemorate the deceased before the cremation. Afterwards, ashes can either be kept in a burial ground with the family or scattered. The appeal of scattering ashes is the freedom to choose a place of sentimental value to the deceased and their loved ones.

Natural burial

Cremation is a popular option for people looking for a non-religious burial. Another form of burial which is becoming increasingly popular is known as natural burial. This method is better for the environment than other burial options, so if the deceased was conscientious about protecting the planet this is a good way to honour their principles. Rather than burial in a churchyard, bodies are interred in a natural cemetery space, often without a headstone. Families are given the location of the body in order to pay their respects. The body is laid to rest in biodegradable covering, without embalming. This process helps deal with the overcrowding faced in churchyards and prevents toxins leaking into the soil.

Both natural burial and cremation also save on costs such as grave-digging, making them economical options.