Five Things I've learnt about funerals since I became a Humanist Celebrant by Carol Smillie.

Carol Smillie now works as a humanist celebrant under her married name, Knight

Carol Smillie now works as a humanist celebrant under her married name, Knight


1. People choose a Humanist ceremony because it is so personal. Writing someone’s life story is such a privilege, but often when I visit a family, their elderly relatives early life is unknown, especially if siblings and friends have already passed away. Take time to talk to your loved ones about their younger years, it’s often fascinating, explains so much about their personality and paints a truer picture of their whole life at their funeral.

2. It’s ok to smile and even laugh at a Humanist funeral. It’s a celebration of life, and remembering them with love and laughter, as well as sadness is surely the way they would have wanted.

3. All faiths are welcome at a Humanist funeral, there’s no competition, we just do things slightly differently. There are no hymns, prayers or worship, but mourners are invited to take a moment to remember their loved one in a way that fits with their own personal beliefs.

 4. People worry about what happens to the coffin in a crematorium, once the curtains close. The atmosphere behind there is very respectful, and the system is digital nowadays, so there’s absolutely no chance of any kind of ‘mix up’.

5. Humanism is about respecting our fellow human beings, being respectful, tolerant and kind, and whatever the families want, we try to accommodate. Although most ceremonies are traditional, I’ve had others with pallbearers dressed as Laurel & Hardy (complete with a bowler hat on the coffin), live music, bright colours, sparkly shoes worn by all the women (the lady who died loved her shoes) and even drag queen eulogies. People are fascinating, complex and unique, and their time in life should be reflected respectfully, in death.

Carol Smillie (Knight)

Carol Smillie qualified as a Humanist Celebrant in 2018 after over 25 years in television. She now conducts non religious funerals, naming and legal wedding ceremonies with the charity Humanist Society Scotland. Humanist ceremonies are now the number one choice across Scotland for both weddings and funerals.

Carol works as a Humanist Celebrant using her married name of Knight.

For more information about Carol, you can see her website, follow her on Twitter or Instagram, or like her Facebook page.