Do I have to have a religious funeral if I’m not religious?

May 21, 2018, 1:43 p.m.

Have you ever been to a funeral, listened to the religious readings, and thought “Does my funeral have to be religious if I’m not religious?” Non-religious funerals are still very much the real deal. Here’s a few ways you can have an alternative non-religious funeral

The reasons for not having a religious funeral are unique to each person. Some of us may feel it has no real meaning to us personally, some find it too formal...and some may simply not be religious at all!

Some people may not be religious, but their family are - so they may believe in having a religious funeral to help their loved ones cope and process all the emotions that come with death.

In many cases, people choose non-religious funerals because they identify as atheist or agnostic.

It’s very important that we point out non-religious funerals aren’t ‘anti-religious,’ they’re just an alternative to those who don’t identify with any religious beliefs.

Types of non-religious funerals

Humanist funeral: A humanist funeral can include readings, music, poetry and tributes - with the latter usually being the main part of the funeral. Tributes can be written by friends, family or a celebrant (a very popular choice these days!). There’s usually a eulogy about the person’s achievements, personality traits and their values in life. There may also be a few minutes of reflection, lighting candles and then a final thank-you to the gathering. Humanist funerals can be held anywhere such as a crematorium, woodland burial ground or even someone’s home or garden.

Add a celebrant to your funeral plan.

Atheist funeral:: Atheist funeral customs will leave out any religious talk such as heaven, an afterlife, reincarnation and so on. It’s very similar to a humanist funeral in that the person’s favourite music is usually played (this can be multiple songs!), with an emphasis on readings and speeches from loved ones. An atheist service can also be held anywhere - just like a humanist service!

Direct cremation:This is where a coffin immediately goes to the cremator and is converted into ashes without a traditional ‘funeral’ (David Bowie famously wanted to “go without any fuss” and had a direct cremation). But the coffin is still carried down the aisle, so friends and family are more than welcome to come along and play music, sing, give a reading or even observe a few minutes silence if they wish to. A direct cremation isn’t strictly non-religious, but it is more popular with those who weren’t religious in life.

Memorial service:Most commonly held after a direct cremation, a memorial service is a favourite with non-religious people as it’s a great way for friends and family to swap stories and memories about the person who passed. It’s also used as an outlet for grief and can provide closure for some loves ones.

When the time comes, would you consider a non-religious funeral or memorial service? Why not add it to your huunuu plan today?

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can join in the conversation about life, death and everything! 

Interview with a vendor: Jean Francis, interfaith minister and celebrant
This month we spoke to Jean Francis, an interfaith minister and celebrant for funerals. Jean founded Circle of Life Celebrations and here she is to tell us all about her views and approach celebrating...
Blockchain, death and huunuu
Our founder Clare talks about how we can use Blockchain to take funeral and bucket list planning to the next level......
Knowledge is power: Talking about death
We all know that there is a stigma around talking about death. It’s almost as if we believe by facing up to the fact, we may jinx ourselves and death may come earlier. In all honesty, it is a difficul...
Ask a Mortician, Dying Matters & Life. Death. Whatever: Bloggers and vloggers of the month
Every month we will give a shout out to a few particularly awesome bloggers and vloggers in the life and death sphere. This month we look at Life. Death. Whatever., Ask a Mortician and Dying Matters!...
Can a corpse be art, and is it right to put a dead body on public display?
What are the moral and visual implications for us, the viewers and does death represent the termination of human rights? There’s a whole other debate to be had about what is art, but for now let’s...