A Funeral for a Humanist

I know it sounds odd, but it’s not often I’m asked to conduct a funeral for a humanist. 

Lots of people want a humanist ceremony, but what they really want is, “something that’s not religious where we can talk about the person that we love”. 

We did that for Leslie too: his son Ian delivered a lovely and very well rounded tribute to his life, and as I discovered, he was quite a guy. 

He was an author, a ballroom dancer and a keen tennis player. After a successful career in advertising where he sat on the board of one of the biggest agencies of the day, he had a second career in education at Heriot Watt University, so he really was ‘a big man on campus’ too.

What made his funeral very special (to me at least) was that he had taken the time to write two poems specifically for it. The first is called A Final Word On What I Believe, and it goes like this.

I believe in God

But my God is not a Spiritual or Religious God

My God is a process and that process is Evolution

A process with no beginning and having no end

There has never been “nothing”

There has always been “something”

God is Evolution

Evolution is God

So, strictly speaking

I am not just a Humanist

I am an Evolutionist

the other is called simply Epitaph. Leslie was born in Ayr but he grew up in Preston, so he had a Lancashire accent, and somehow I think I’m always going to prefer it in that voice.

Did I make someone happy?
Did I make someone laugh?
Thats what I want for an Epitaph.
Remember not the tears
But only the laughter
Thats what I want on my Epitapher.

My thanks go to his wife Pam, and his children for permission to reproduce these poems here. 

PS The family are happy for them to be used by anyone for their own funerals, as long as Leslie’s authorship is acknowledged, so I hope they travel far.

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