Letter: Funerals that celebrate life

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The Independent Online
Funerals that

celebrate life

Sir: While rightly acknowledging the resentment caused by (in her words) the "stripped down" attitude of funerals bereft of religious significance ("The British way of death", 26 July), Glenda Cooper fails to mention the equal resentment and unease caused by the inappropriate and largely impersonal religious funerals that still predominate at our crematoria and cemeteries.

Humanist funerals, which concentrate on celebrating the life and defining the essence of a personality, and include a wide range of music and poetry of a secular nature, are now an established and exponential phenomenon. British Humanist Association accredited officiants presently conduct more than 2,000 non-religious funerals each year, and a further unquantifiable but significant number are undertaken by families or friends on their own behalf.

It is telling that such growing numbers should seek alternatives to the standardised, quasi-religious, and often cursory funeral approach, described memorably in 1988 by Ken Livingstone MP as "about as moving as the checkout at a supermarket". And, if the non-religious option was more openly publicised by funeral directors, crematoria, hospitals and other social agencies, we would surely find ourselves on the brink of an enlightened social revolution where funeral rites are concerned.

NIGEL COLLINS

Ceremonies Registration Secretary

British Humanist Association

London WC1

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