Atheism belief in afterlife or in God doesn’t exist so they don’t have a specific set of belief on death. Dealing with funeral services for an atheist can be tricky, especially in an industry that’s largely rooted on religion. It’s essential for the survivors to respect the choices of their dearly departed even if it’s in conflict with their own beliefs.
If you are an atheist who greatly worries whether your beliefs will be respected in your death or not, it’s important to be clear of your requests as early as possible. You can do this by creating a formal document with the detailed arrangement and entrust this in the care of a trusted person or an executor.
A religious funeral typically focuses on the person’s soul and afterlife. Atheists don’t believe in a second life after the physical body has expired nor they believe in a deity that looks after people. Commemoration of their passing is done in a different way. They would rather focus and celebrate on the life they lived rather than praying for a better afterlife.
Their funeral services may not look like the traditional one, but it is a type of celebration or a party, sometimes informal, with a lot of food, drinks, and music. Any resemblance of a formal ceremony is done in a non-religious way that is solemnized by a close family member or a friend. Celebrants are those who are connected to the person for they are the ones who can justify the celebration that reflects the personality of the person who just died.
Eulogies would include sharing of stories and lessons learned from the deceased. There are no precise rules when holding atheist or humanist funeral services as long as these honor the wishes of the person.
The will or any document left by the atheist should be your blueprint in directing a memorial service. If he left no such document, then the person who will manage the funeral services should make inquiries from his close family and friends about his values and wishes. If there is still no information available, then just make sure that any type of funeral arrangement wouldn’t include religious elements to respect the dead.
Atheist’s interment service varies from person to person. It all depends on values and family choices. Some would allow the traditional wake without the religious aspect like prayers or reading of Biblical passages. There are a number of atheists who believe that the memorial service is not for the one passed, but for the survivors as a gift of kindness or comfort.
Saying that the person is “In a better place now” is avoided. The intentions may be for sympathy and benevolence but it will contradict their belief. It’s best to avoid them. Even if you are a religious person, you will feel comfortable in a humanist or atheist ceremony. They are basically affectionate and sincere and you’ll just be asked to share your memories or even anecdotes about the person. This is a chance for the survivors to bond over their shared love.
Music is still part of the service but instead of religious hymns, they would choose songs about human relationships and how to live a good life. The common choices for an atheist service are favorite songs of the departed and songs that greatly mirror his life.
Burial or cremation may still border on the traditional sans the religious rites. Most would rather have their ashes scattered in a special place rather than being buried. However, some opt to have their bodies donated to science as their way of contributing to humanity.
Death for anyone is shocking and even more painful if one has a great connection with the deceased. The atheist or humanist memorial service is a time to express sorrow of the passing and at the same time, joy in the life they shared with you. It’s the appropriate way of saying goodbye to someone who lived without a spiritual creed. It remains memorable and respectful.
Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel and Crematory has been the premier North Knoxville funeral services since 1948. We can accommodate any need, and any budget.