My father was a humanist and he should have had a humanist funeral. But he died many years ago, when their provision was far more limited than it is today. On being told my father had no religious faith in adulthood and his only ‘funeral request’ had been for cremation rather than burial, the funeral director simply said he’d let the vicar know. If he knew about humanist funerals, he wasn’t letting on, so he probably didn’t.

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Both of my parents died slow, horrible deaths. I won’t forget what those two strong, vibrant individuals became in old age and sickness: their fragility, their mental confusion, their physical agony and, above all, their unmitigated emotional distress. There are few things worse than seeing a frail old man or woman screaming and crying in pain and longing for death.

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