The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

Join / Donate

All Forums > Open Discussion >

Open Discussion

May 24 2007
Planning your own funeral......

Has anyone thought of or planned for already their funeral to be completely secular? I think of those closet atheists, etc who have the misfortune of passing away and their family/friends putting together a nice little theistic celebration for them. Would it bother you (pretending that you could know after the fact - or knowing ahead of time now that someone might) if a priest/preacher resided over your casket reciting bible verses and inciting prayer? What would you idealize as your perfect funeral?

May 24 2007

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, it seems as if the funeral is really FOR the living people who attend it and not for the dead person. If the people who attend really need to hear some fairy stories to be able to cope with my "passing", then why should I deny them this comfort?

And, on the other hand, I think the world would be a better place if we stopped believing in these ancient myths and acknowledged the real situation. In that sense, my ideal funeral is described by the song "Bury Me Deep" by the folk-rock band "Poi Dog Pondering" back when they were based in Texas. I guess I'd like that song to be played at my funeral! Here are the lyrics:

A lifetime of accomplishments of which the dirt knows none,

only in death can one truly return

Return the carrots, the apples and potatoes,

The chickens, the cows, the fish and tomatoes.

In one glorious swoop, let the deed be done

and bury me deep so that I can be one...

And all around my muscle and all around my bone,

don't incinerate me or seal me from

the dirt which bore me, the bed that which from

the rain falls upon and the fruit comes from

For the dirt is a blanket, no fiery tomb,

No punishment, reward, or pearly white room

And you who say that in death we will pay,

The dead they can't hear a word that you say

Your words are not kind, sober or giving,

they only put fear in the hearts of the living

So put away your tongues and roll up your sleeves,

and pick up your shovel and bury me deep.

May 24 2007

i like the lyrics to that song...they ring so true. my belief is that funerals are typically a remembrance of someone's life (usually just the good things - lol). to properly remember someone who is an atheist (or enter any secular description) it would be improper to have a christian (et al) procession because that's not a part of who that person was or what they believed. i personally have said to my family, save your money on those expensive caskets...go to home depot and nail together some wood.

Jun 4 2007

From what I experienced growing up, the need for a religious service upon passing seems to grow out of the fear of the unknown, deep seated concepts set at an early age that are never truly explored (it’s what we have to do…) or a feeling of what the hell (pardon the pun), better safe than sorry. Growing up in a small industrialized town in Western, PA, I was exposed to a pretty intense Catholic upbringing (Alter boy and all). The pageantry of the mass can be a quite impressive expression of honor to the dead guy. Honesty, I could take it or leave it. The real point that I want to make is on post services festivities. The wake was the key to honoring the life and accomplishments of the people that we loved and admired. Wakes would last 2-3 days filled with drink and food and more food. Everyone brought something and kept coming back. Dancing and music and an occasional tear. Usually held at the Polish Club or the Italian Club or the German Club (well you get the idea). Today you go to a funeral home or someone’s house for a few hours and act all somber. We have become a country where we celebrate less and fear more. How strange would it have been if we had celebrated the lives lost on 9/11 instead of attacking those that created such an immoral act? How would the world have reacted to our actions? Obviously, we will never know. Our fear breeds fear. Our lack of celebration breeds fear. When we celebrate the life that was lost we show ourselves what a privilege it was to have lived. Once we remove the fear we can stop having the services…

Jun 5 2007

It bothers me that my children will probably have a Christian memorial service for me because that has nothing to do with me and my life. (I know, I won't be there.) But if that comforts them..............? My husband and I have told our children we don't want a service, but have a party instead! But I think they will want the service. I really liked the previous writer's comments about celebration. It is still a dilemma for me.


Jun 8 2007

I'll take getting chucked into an Urn, burned up n stuff. it saves space. and people will have proof of my death. considering that's usualy questioned.

I really don't want to be put in a hole, with an expensive casket. taking up more space.. plus those plots are expensive too.

How bout cremation, a nice ceremony at the house that has cake and pie or something to let everyone know that matters that i"m dead. put me in an ern and do whatever afterwards. I don't care. pour me into the toilet for all that matters.

Jun 8 2007

My ashes are going into an urn. Only one of my children wants my ashes, and I told her to sprinkle them on her garden. She said, "But then I can't ever move!"

I have given two of my children printouts of this discussion board with my earlier comments, so maybe they will do something more in line with my wishes.


Jun 21 2007

This doesn't exactly concern humanist funerals, but there is an interesting article in the current (June 25) issue of People (I don't normally read People, but I was bored) about environmentally-responsible burial. There is an organization known as the Green Burial Council which identifies and supports areas around the country where you can be buried in a natural setting without an expensive (and non-biodegradable) casket and vault. Even the headstone harmonizes with nature. One of these, the Ramsey Creek Preserve, is actually in South Carolina, in Westminster. Pardon the diversion from the issue, but I felt that most of us participating in this discussion board were likely to be concerned about the environment.

Jun 22 2007

Thomas True, I think that's very least with me....that's why I mentioned to be buried with wood from home depot. I'm gonna check them out...good info.

Oct 8 2007

Good music:

Imagine - John Lennon

Dancing Circles Round the Sun - Rodney Crowell

Oct 14 2007

I'm writing about this late having just gotten back to looking at SHL, but it caught my eye...following on Thomas True's post:

This is a fairly new thing (i think its new anyhow) and its called eco-cemeteries. I also saw an article recently about the one in SC, which got me interested.

Take a look at on Wikipedia.

Personally, I think this is a wonderful concept.

Nov 25 2007
green funerals, interments & memorials

I'm glad that many have posted on this topic.

Yes there's a green cemetary here in SC. Cremation takes lots of fuel, emits hydrocarbons & does not reduce a body to mere ash, many bone bits & teeth remain that can rattle in an urn, if the crematory does not sift them out.

Iowa has an Infidel Cemetary just a mile west of Bellevue. Founded by Capt. Elbridge Gerry Potter 13 decades ago, he along with a handful of Atheists are buried there as well as dozens of Masons & Catholics who are his decendants. Arnold Via has an Atheist cemetary in Grottoes, VA. I prefer interment. Burial at sea is an alternative ok with this US Navy vet.

The only possible experience of a real hell would be cremation, not eternal, but real flames & total consumption of flesh as described in the phantasmagoric King James Bible.

The Nazi's likely cremated alive many Jews, Gypsies & Gays. Not much of a peep of protest then by now Nazi pope in Rome today.

"Santa Lucia" was burned alive & as she died she ripped out her eyeballs when she asked why the man who owned her was so killing her for a refusal to marry him & he said her eyes were beautiful. AND THIS IS THE SAINT OF EYESIGHT & VIRGINITY according to Catholics????

I like Mark Twain do not accept the bribe of heaven if the likes of Jerry Falwell & "forgiven" murderers, rapists & burners of witches alive are there all playing harps & rewarded by Jehovah.

What I hope is done at my funeral is a healing party for the mournful, lifting the joys & imbibing cheers for a life loved. Play Teach Your Children by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Some Sinatra, Streisand, Beatles, Beethoven, Mozart & show tunes like "Oklahoma."

Music Man, Till there was you.

Call me sentimental, but keep religious icons & tracts out of my coffin.

My military headstone will be carved with the American Atheist "orbit."

If I'm not killed in a crash or drive by shooting, I hope I can plan my own interment, to die with dignity & no risk of the religious ruling the roost.

My daughters are both Atheists & Sue has similar plans, possibly being frozen, ground to icy dust & scattered off the Peace Bridge linking Buffalo, NY to Canada. We'll celebrate her life with a keg & Kim Mitchell rock & roll songs. Nonetheless, death is a time of loss for the living & a relief from some painful terminal illnesses.

I've been to many dozens of funerals, relatives, friends & associates of my father in his business.

All but a few were not about eulogies & loved ones but selling religious ideas often unsubscribed to by the dead by clergy.

Yes we should plan well to avoid such mockeries.

I gave the eulogy for my father. Corliss Lamont & Robert Ingersoll published enough of them to guide a good student to compose a farewell address which could honor most freethinkers.

I hope more funerals could be like the memorial service for Bill Upshur. He was my first friend in Charleston.

My wish is for quality of life extension for all.

We can get there with science & universal healthcare, not prayers & greedy theocratic elites. In reason we trust.

Dec 28 2007
Green funerals

This is an interesting topic, I had arrangements in England for a green funeral, it consisted of using a cardboard coffin (cheap and very green) being taken to the site on the back of a horse drawn carraige (a bit of a cheek considering my chosen car at the time was a Lexus SUV) and buried in an unmarked grave in a wood. The only concession to modernity being a microchip thrown in with me that aided future site searches by means of a hand held bleeper. Not sure how long that would have lasted given my experiences in life with the vagaries of electronics kept in ideal conditions.

There would be no minister, just friends and arrangements for a wake. I've been to some wakes that were better than weddings! I guess it depends on the circumstances.

I really must look into the local alternatives but arranging your own funeral tends to be one of those things you put off, there always seems to be something else to do.

My wife however is fully aware of my preferred send off, it has just occured to me though that I am less certain of hers. How do you bring that up?

Return to Open Discussion Forum
Return to Discussion Home

Webmaster: Alex Kasman 2016