John Howieson

Funeral Ceremonies


Originally from Dumfries, I lived in Edinburgh for a while before settling on the beautiful Isle of Skye in 1998. I'm a husband, father and grandfather, and each role and each different person in my life has enriched me. I took early retirement in 2009 after 33 years in secondary education. During my time in teaching, I always got most job satisfaction from sharing good things with young people, and helping them to find their way through difficult times. Being qualified in English, I've also always relished the challenges and joys of helping people to communicate. I see the job of a humanist celebrant as involving similar challenges and similar satisfactions.

I believe that humanity has evolved to be gregarious and collaborative, and the major challenge for our species in the future is that of finding a way of all getting on together, so that each person has the opportunity to fulfil his or her potential, and to live a happy life which enriches the lives of others. As the world becomes ever more secular, I can see humanism stepping into the gap left by the old religions – and unlike them I think it has the power to unite rather than divide, to heal wounds between people by emphasising our common humanity.

Wedding & Civil Partnership Ceremonies

I'M STILL ACCEPTING WEDDING BOOKINGS FOR JULY AND AUGUST 2018, but no other times. Why not consider a Sunday? So far, it's been the day of the week least in demand, so lots available!

It's a privilege to be part of your special day. I’ll enjoy meeting you and all the other people involved, discussing your plans with you and ensuring it all comes to fruition. The wide range of beautiful places where I've been asked to conduct ceremonies includes Lochcarron, Seil Island, Arisaig, Erbusaig, Torridon, Lewis, Harris, Uist and the Isle of Canna, as well as the Isle of Skye itself, and outdoor ceremonies can be wonderful - as long as Plan B is at the ready, in case of rain or excessive midges!

We’ll meet together or use email, skype and/or phone, and discuss the ceremony. I can suggest things that have been successful in previous ceremonies - including symbolic gestures and readings. I can write the script or else I'm happy to work with you on what you have written. I’ll ensure we cover all legal requirements, but otherwise I’ll take my lead from you. There are lots of ideas and advice I can pass on, but you will make the decisions. My role is to see that the ceremony is what you want and feel comfortable with, and to ensure that you are calm and prepared, so that your day is happy and memorable.

Have the ceremony you want – not the one anyone else might want you to have! Enjoy the day, be yourself, delegate as many tasks as you can and have a wonderful time.

Naming & Welcoming Ceremonies

Namings aren't so common yet! I completed my namings training a while ago, and have so far done one naming. As I'd expected, it was great fun - a joyous occasion! The wee chap was warmly welcomed into the circle of family and friends, undertakings were given to be there for him as he grows up, and everybody had a great party.

Funeral Ceremonies

It is a privilege to be asked to speak on behalf of families in what can be a very stressful situation. In times of grief, people may find it difficult to say what they are feeling. My job is to help them find the right words to express their feelings.

My role is to produce a ceremony which the family feels accurately reflects the life and character of the deceased, and which says all they want to have said. The family set the tone for the funeral with their recollections and stories about the deceased. The ceremony is a celebration of the life of their loved one, and so while there may be sadness, there may well also be laughter, and hopefully those present can leave feeling that the person they have lost was accurately remembered in a fitting tribute.

Some comments about my funerals:
"thank you for the lovely tribute you gave to my dad ..... last week, it was just spot on. It was a pleasure to meet you. " 20.3.14
"Special thanks for providing the comforting humanist ceremony that he had wanted." 28.12.12
"He would have loved that." 6.9.12

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If there are amusing stories that will help you remember your loved one with fondness, don’t feel for a moment that these will be inappropriate. Love and respect don’t die with a person’s death; they just change, and they’re still there.

Bhithinn deònach Gàidhlig a chleachdadh, nam biodh sin freagarrach dhuibh.

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