How a Funeral Home Can Help You Say Goodbye

Two tips for arranging a non-religious funeral

If you're arranging a funeral for someone who was an atheist or who simply had no interest in religion, and who specified prior to their death that they did not want any religious elements in their funeral, it might be helpful to read the advice below.

Look around the funeral home and visit the room where the service is going to be held.

After finding a funeral home, you should go visit it before the funeral and ask a staff member to walk you around the room on the premises where the service for your loved one is going to be held. During this walk, you should look out for any religious-themed decor that may have been put on display in this room (such as Christian crosses or Sikh Khanda symbols) and ask the staff to remove these items before the service takes place.

The reason for this is that sometimes, funeral homes will display decor that relates to a specific religion if they operate in an area where there is a large community of people who practise that particular religion. This is not usually an indication of the funeral home's religious affiliations, but is instead often a matter of convenience. For example, a funeral home in a town with a large number of practising Christians will usually arrange a lot of Christian funerals; because of this, it might simply be easier for its staff keep the decorative symbols of that religion (such as the crucifix or the dove and the olive branch) on display on their premises, rather than putting them out and then tidying them away after every single Christian funeral service.

As such, if you do feel that the deceased would have preferred to have had their service in a room that was free from any religious imagery, you must make this request. The funeral staff will most likely have no issue with removing any religious decor they happen to have on the walls or windowsills in their service room.

Be crystal clear about what you want the funeral celebrant to say.

The employee of the funeral home who is assigned to help you with the arrangements may put you in touch with a funeral celebrant if you tell them that you do not want a priest or any other religious person to speak at the funeral service. When you speak to this funeral celebrant, you must explicitly state that you want the speech that they deliver at the service to be free of any religious references (such as the recitation of prayers or discussions of the deceased being with God now), as some celebrants will occasionally include religion-themed topics if they are not told that they should not do this.

Being clear with the celebrant about what you would like them to say (or what you want them to avoid discussing) will ensure that you do not have to awkwardly interrupt this professional during the service in order to tell them to stop, for example, reciting a religious poem or prayer.