On the three-month anniversary of the UK lockdown, Humanists UK broadcast a Humanist National Memorial Ceremony to offer an opportunity for people to reflect on what we have been and are still going through. It pays tribute to those we have lost, offers hope, and reckons with the grief, mourning, and anxiety so many of us have known these past three months.
The 30-minute ceremony is now available to watch through Humanists UK’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. It was watched live by well over 1,000 people and many thousands have since watched it online.
In addition to giving time for reflection, the National Memorial Ceremony provides an insight into humanist ceremonies. Inclusive by nature, like all humanist ceremonies, it is a ceremony people from all walks of life can access and take something from. After the live broadcast, Humanists UK received messages of praise and thanks from people across Europe, Brazil, the US, India, and the Philippines.
A humanist ceremony is typically characterised by its personalisation and its uniqueness to the situation at hand. Humanist celebrants rose to the challenge of applying that same craft and care to create a ceremony that spoke to the whole nation at a time of grief and difficulty.
Millions of people in the UK draw comfort from humanist funerals and the National Memorial Ceremony was written in that same spirit. Moving and reflective, the ceremony was led by humanist funeral celebrants, who were joined by humanist pastoral carers from NHS chaplaincy teams well-known humanists such as Alice Roberts, Joan Bakewell, Jim Al-Khalili, and Mark Gatiss. It features music performed by the London Humanist Choir.
Humanists are non-religious people who shape their own lives in the here and now, understanding the world through reason and science and living by a moral code based simply on empathy and compassion. Humanist ceremonies exist to meet the timeless human need to mark life’s turning points – such as deaths, births, and marriages – with an event involving others.
Even in socially distanced times, the essential human need for personal connection and to express and share grief remains undiminished. The National Memorial Ceremony is an attempt by humanists to help address this need among the non-religious community and the country at large.
To watch the ceremony, visit youtube.com/humanistsuk.
For more information about humanist funerals from Humanist Ceremonies, visit humanistceremonies.org.uk/
To find your local humanist funeral celebrants, go to www.humanistceremonies.org.uk/