My name is Ealish Whillock, and as a humanist funeral celebrant Accredited with the Humanist Association of Ireland, I deliver funerals and memorial services. Consequently, as a humanist funeral celebrant I can help you honour your loved one through the lens of a life, well lived. Because commemorating those who have departed doesn’t always have to involve traditional religious rites. Especially, as an ever-increasing number of people adopt a more secular philosophical life stance.
Furthermore, when it comes to celebrating a person’s life, most prefer a personal approach. As a result, humanist funerals provide family and friends with an opportunity to have their loved one’s legacy celebrated. This can be achieved, by sharing stories and videos that speak to how the individual touched your lives and the lives of others. Whilst also paying tribute to their talents, character, and unique idiosyncrasies, which made-up who they were.
Indeed, planning a funeral can bring forth happy memories and stories otherwise forgotten. In this way, a much more enriching way of dealing with loss can be facilitated.
For example, I supported my terminally ill father in creating his own order of cremation service. Sadly, he passed away in 2013. However, it brought my sisters and me great comfort in being able to co-facilitate his last hurrah. That day, we celebrated his life as a family. By sharing many memories through the recital of his published poetry and old letters offering us his words of wisdom. These were all interspersed with the soundtrack of our childhood. Over time, I came to realise what an honour and a privilege it was to have assisted my father on this momentous occasion.
Get in touch
Please feel free to contact me for more information and to check my availability.
Tips & Advice
What does a Humanist Funeral Celebrant do?
Humanist funeral celebrants assist families in focusing on the person who has passed. By doing so, we help balance the sadness of loss with a celebration of the person’s life.
If possible, I meet the family or friends who are organising the funeral, and together we plan a meaningful ceremony. Otherwise, the ceremony can be arranged by telephone or skype. During this meeting, I take the time to learn as much as possible about the person who has died. However, the family usually contribute by creating a eulogy. Whilst also, selecting the readings and or music, which would have resonated with those who have passed. These contributions will often be reflective, capturing the essence of the individual. Then, I lead the ceremony, using appropriate words which reflect dignity and warmth.
Some Family Members are Religious – Can Their Beliefs be Included?
Humanist funerals are secular, that is, non-religious in nature. However, as a humanist funeral celebrant, I do acknowledge the right of all to people to choose and practice their own philosophical life stance. Because it is important that everyone is included in a funeral ceremony. And while I cannot say anything religious in nature, the service can include a minute’s silence. This ensures all mourners have an opportunity to consider the life of the deceased and grieve according to their own custom and beliefs.
Where Can Humanist Funerals be Held?
Humanist funerals can be held in any suitable venue: in a crematorium, at the graveside, in the funeral parlour, at a hotel, a community hall, in gardens, a woodland, a marquee or a private home. One option is to have a short ceremony at the graveside, and then a celebration of the person’s life in a venue such as a hotel or hall. The funeral director should be able to advise you about suitable venues in your locality.
When Can Humanist Funerals be Held?
Humanist funerals can be held at any time. In the case of a cremation, I would usually advise that families arrange the funeral as the last cremation of the day. By doing so, two consecutive slots can be booked, which ensures sufficient time for a full ceremony. The ceremony will normally last at least 40 minutes, so allowing up to one hour is advisable.
Can I Arrange my own Funeral?
People often ask me if they can arrange their own humanist funeral and my response is always yes, you certainly can. Because this generally safeguards that your funeral will fit with your own beliefs and convictions. Therefore, I would be very favourably disposed to discussing your funeral ceremony with you. However, you should make sure that your wishes are known to whoever will be making your funeral arrangements. Also, it’s advisable that you put your wishes in writing. You can do this by completing the “Think Ahead” form. Click Here to download the form from The Irish Hospice Foundation.
How Much does a Humanist Funeral Celebrant Cost?
I am based in Kerry and typically, my humanist funeral celebrant fees would be €350 for the Tralee or Killarney area. Please note however, that this fee does not include the €25 contribution required by the HAI. Also, travelling further afield would naturally incur more costs so fees will vary depending on the location of the funeral or memorial ceremony.
Disclaimer: Please note that these topics are for general information purposes only. The answers are correct to the best of our belief and knowledge at present but are not definitive. Different HAI accredited celebrants take slightly different approaches, so please speak to a celebrant directly if you have a query or concern.