Broadly speaking, there aren't that many differences between a religious funeral and one that avoids any type of religious association. Family and friends come together to honour and farewell the deceased at the service, which is then followed by a cremation or burial. The real differences emerge when you need to plan the details. What do you do when a loved one wanted an atheist funeral?
A Life Well-Lived
Funeral arranging for an atheist service (also known as a secular or humanist service) results in an occasion completely free of the religious rites or discussions that can be a traditional aspect of many funerals. If the deceased didn't believe in God, their final farewell should respect this. An atheist service commemorates a life well-lived, as opposed to emphasising the notion of life after death.
Mention the Nature of the Service
It's best to mention in the funeral invitations that the service will be an atheist one. The service will generally be held at the funeral home chapel or another appropriate venue, and obviously won't take place at a church. The service will be conducted by a celebrant instead of a priest, and you might even wish to have any religious iconography removed from the funeral chapel, if possible. This is optional, but you might wish to have anything associated with faith (such as a crucifix) temporarily removed from the chapel. Ask your chosen funeral director if this is possible.
By mentioning that the service is to be an atheist one, you will set appropriate expectations for those attending. This means it won't be a surprise that there will be an absence of prayer and hymns, and the service will instead be a celebration of life. You might also wish to stipulate that anyone who speaks at the service abstains from any religious references.
This is not to say that these religious references are wrong, but given that the deceased was not a believer, then dwelling upon the biblical aspects of death can be inappropriate, since they're contrary to the deceased's wishes. If someone was set on reading a passage from the bible, gently suggest that they read an excerpt from one of the deceased's favourite books instead.
When a loved one didn't believe in the existence of God, this is very much a matter of personal preference, and while you might not necessarily agree with this choice, you'll still want to honour your loved one's wishes. For more assistance, contact funeral arranging services.
Losing a child is the hardest thing anyone could ever go through – I know because it happened to me. Through the grief, I had to find new ways to breathe, to function and to live. Of course, I also had to plan a funeral and memorial service for my child. If you have lost a child or a baby or had a stillborn, you have probably shared many of these feelings. If this has just happened to you, you may be wondering what to do next. First, I extend my sympathy, and secondly, I offer you this blog to help you grieve and help you understand the basics of funeral planning. Take care.