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New American Funerals

By Elizabeth Nordberg Stokes

Non Fiction  ​Published September 2022

Off-the- shelf material won't cut it in a culture that still seeks – amid the nonhumanity of megacorporations and algorithm'd content – genuine recognition and personality for this essential event. This is an up-to-date guide for professional celebrants who want to create compelling, contemporary end-of-life ceremonies from a humanist perspective.

Trade Softcover $23.95 available from

EBook $9.99 available from

About New American Funerals

New American Funerals is the first book in more than 30 years to focus solely on nonreligious American end-of-life ceremonies and how the professional celebrant can create them. Many changes have since impacted American death practices, from technology, demographics, and climate change to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Amid these changes, more Americans are finding that religious ceremonies are no longer meaningful, yet they still want to honor their loved ones with authenticity and meaning. The humanist worldview stands as a refreshing contrast to traditional burial rites. Inside this comprehensive guide the professional celebrant will find strategies for

  • identifying the appropriate tone for various end-of-life ceremonies,

  • hitting the main "beats" of end-of-life ceremonies,

  • writing refreshing eulogies,

  • conceiving custom rituals,

  • building a collection of nonreligious readings and music suggestions, and

  • designing mourning events of all kinds.


The book also covers pragmatic aspects of contemporary funeral celebrancy such as

  • inquiry and interview practices,

  • interacting with families and clients in a variety of emotional states,

  • sensitive language for difficult deaths and ceremonies,

  • fee models,

  • racial and gender imbalances in the profession, and

  • the wider economic context in which American celebrants work.


New American Funerals also encourages celebrants to be receptive to the myriad vibrant, contemporary end-of-life customs found throughout communities in the United States.

In highlighting concepts and materials from the natural world, the arts, science, and culture, humanist end-of-life ceremonies rise to the occasion and meet the need that today’s growing secular society has for connection, beauty, and transcendence.

Link to footnotes and bibliography.

About Elizabeth Stokes

Elizabeth Nordberg Stokes is a professional humanist celebrant who has been designing and delivering end-of-life ceremonies in New England for more than five years. She also teaches end-of-life ceremonies at Celebrant Academy, one of the few U.S. organizations supporting the education of professional celebrants. Prior to becoming a celebrant, she was in a leadership position in a Quaker organization and was a freelance editor focused on memoir and fiction. She holds a B.S. in Communication Theory and Practice from Boston University with a focus in Creative Writing, and continues to write fiction in her free time. She is the lucky parent of two amazing teens, and together they live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Product Details


Sociology > Sociology of Death

Sociology > Customs and traditions > Death

Religion and Spirituality > Atheism > Funerals

Trade Softcover  $23.95

ISBN 9798986696102
Published by 18th and Fairfax

September 20, 2022

228 Pages

6" x 9"

Ebook  $9.99

ISBN 979-8-9866961-1-9
Published by 18th and Fairfax
September 20, 2022

236 Pages

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