What happens when an atheist dies? Like, practically-speaking?
May 15, 2014 8:05 AM Subscribe
Where do atheist funerals/memorial services take place, and who, if anyone, officiates?
posted by mskyle to Society & Culture (32 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I'm young enough and in good enough health that I don't feel an urgent need to get my funeral planned, but it occurs to me that I don't really know, logistically, how one would plan a non-religious funeral. If my family wanted to give me a religious funeral that would be OK with me but none of my immediate family are particularly religious either, and I think it would probably ring hollow to them if a minister stood up at the front of the church and talked about how I was in heaven. So I assume they would want to honor my (lack of) beliefs, but I doubt they would actually know how to do that.
The actual "what happens during the ceremony" part doesn't seem that difficult - there are readings and music and stuff that I think would be appropriate. But it seems like a service needs at a minimum some kind of MC to keep things rolling along - who does that in the absence of a clergyperson? (I imagine a friend or relative could take on this role, but for me personally no one springs to mind.) And also, I'm really not sure where it ought to take place - I guess a funeral home chapel would be acceptable, but I'm also really not into the whole funeral industry. Someone's home, or a function space? A restaurant or something like a VFW hall? (I would expect to be cremated* so it doesn't have to be someplace you can bring a dead body.) I suppose a UU church and minister would be OK in a pinch, but it doesn't exactly appeal to me, either.
Anyway, have you been to a funeral or memorial that honored a dead atheist? How did it go? Where was it?
*Or, in my dream world, turned into an articulated skeleton.