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Atheist Funerals


Prysm
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My husband and I are considering writing wills for ourselves, even though we're very young. We just don't want an unfortunate spouse having to fight the tide of religion and insistent families while grieving. Also, if we died together, it would be an inevitable last slap in the face to have a disgustingly xtian funeral preaching about how we're in hell now because of our pride and willful disobedience. Ugh. So, has anyone else done this? Any advice for how to set that up? What sort of stuff do you do? We'd also like to designate memorial gifts to a charity, but are their any good non-religious ones?

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My family is a fairly mixed bag. When my brother died we had a memorial service, played all the music he and we always loved, including very hard rock. There were some there who spoke about god. My brother was atheist. But he allowed for the fact that some people believe that stuff, and he didn't seem to mind. No one in the family is the born-again type. I was the only one who had gone down that road and by the time my brother died that was past for me.

 

When my niece was killed, we had a memorial service. My sister doesn't go to church but she believes in god. She respects those of us that don't believe, and there is a growing contingent of atheists and agnostics in the family.

 

My mother is the one who goes to church every week, she said the most about god, but she goes to the Metropolitan Community Church (she's a lesbian) so it's ok. We let her pastor have the service and it was very tasteful.

 

When everyone is grieving and there is no money involved people tend to be civil.

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My grandparents planned out their funerals a few years ago (they're both still alive), but I really have no idea what the procedure is. I would guess that a lawyer's office might be a good place to start.

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You should consider at least going with a UUA or Humanist celebrant for any kind of formal service. I know that my kids would honor anything I put into my will like "No damned religious ceremony". But then I'm lucky---two of my kids are completely secular, and the other is nominally Catholic---although I don't know why other than that she married a Catholic. Also, having made out a will myself already, I'll give you the advice my attorney gave me-------make sure your kids or other executors know your wishes in advance. Don't just put it in the will and then not tell them. That way there is nothing for them to quibble over when something happens to you, and nothing is mistakenly put into motion by people who don't know what's in the will.

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My wife and kids all know that I will find a way to haunt them forever (even though I don't believe in souls, I'll find a way) if there's a preacher within a hunnerd yards of my funeral. :P:

I want cremation and a New Orleans style party, with some wild exaggerations of my exploits expected.

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Thanks for the advice everyone. Maybe we're just being morbid, but hey, everyone keeps asking us about when we die, so it's sorta on our minds. I think we'll make wills with a lawyer as a summer project. The one thing we aren't sure about is a charity that won't use money for religious purposes (we have a government to help with that *sigh*). Are there any charities that you all know of which would be a good fit? We are concerned with the development of infrastructure in third-world countries through things like microloans, education, and healthcare.

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Thanks for the advice everyone. Maybe we're just being morbid, but hey, everyone keeps asking us about when we die, so it's sorta on our minds. I think we'll make wills with a lawyer as a summer project. The one thing we aren't sure about is a charity that won't use money for religious purposes (we have a government to help with that *sigh*). Are there any charities that you all know of which would be a good fit? We are concerned with the development of infrastructure in third-world countries through things like microloans, education, and healthcare.

 

There's a ton of organizations I can think of-------ACLU, FFRF, American's United for the separation of Church and State, Easter Seals, St Jude's Children's Research Hospital (no they don't force religion on anyone), the March of Dimes, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association,-------and many others.

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Thanks for the advice everyone. Maybe we're just being morbid, but hey, everyone keeps asking us about when we die, so it's sorta on our minds. I think we'll make wills with a lawyer as a summer project. The one thing we aren't sure about is a charity that won't use money for religious purposes (we have a government to help with that *sigh*). Are there any charities that you all know of which would be a good fit? We are concerned with the development of infrastructure in third-world countries through things like microloans, education, and healthcare.

 

I'll send you my mailing address :lmao:

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I'm donating my body to science--especially my brain. I want med students to be able to examine the brain of a chronically depressed person (moi) to someone who had a healthy mentality. If my organs can be harvested to help others, all the better.

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Hi Prysm,

 

I have been thinking about the same thing lately. I already have a will, but it does not mention funeral plans. When I get it redone, I will include a directive that says I want to be cremated. Cremation, in and of itself, will be enough to royally upset my extremely fundie family, but upset is not my reason for doing it. I simply don't want to be buried because I have moved too much to have a "home" and burial is ridiculously expensive to put off on my husband for no good reason. Hopefully they will understand that -- I plan to explain it to them soon so they will not be surprised.

 

The service, on the other hand, is really up to my family. In my opinion, funerals/memorial services are for the living and to help them cope. If it helps my fundie family to have a fundie memorial service, they can have at it. I will be dead and will not care. However, my situation is different from yours because my family (excepting my spouse) doesn't know I'm agnostic. (Long story...we live far enough away that they don't know we stopped going to church plus my mother has enough to worry about without being worried about my eternal soul).

 

No matter what you decide, the will stuff is relatively easy. Just set up an appointment with an estate lawyer, tell him/her your wishes and read the documents carefully before you sign. I wouldn't recommend preplanning through a funeral home because you are still young. If you don't pass away until 60 years from now, the funeral home might have gone out of business and your money was wasted or myriad other issues. This happened to my grandmother. She pre-paid/planned too early and none of it helped when it was actually time to make the arrangements. The family just had to pay all over again.

 

Just my $0.02. Hope this helps.

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For anyone who is interested---on a related note, gypsy79 is correct. To plunk down money years in advance is really silly. Not only because of the problem already mentioned, but because you can never really say where you're going to be when it's your turn to check out. You can find listings all over the internet by people who are trying to sell cemetery plots because their parents moved across the country years after they had bought the plots, and then were buried elsewhere. My mother is 83 years old, and stays in a semi-assisted living facility. My brother, sister and I are co-equal powers of attorney for her, as she is no longer capable of handling her own financial affairs, among other things. I pulled the duty of setting up a pre-planned funeral. I had a talk with Mom about this, and she was very specific about what she wanted.

 

She is to be cremated and buried with our Dad in the same plot in a small Catholic cemetery not far from where she lives right now. There is to be a simple graveside service of some kind by the priest of that parish or a sexton. The entire cost so far is $3,650.00 including sales taxes on anything that is listed as "merchandise"---------that covers the headstone, the basic service charge of the funeral home for everything they do in the process, a burial vault for two sets of ashes, the County permit, the charge for the crematory and a few other odds and ends like multiple copies of the death certificate, and the fee for opening and closing the grave. It will be a very basic, no frills affair; there will be no showing, so no need of a casket.

 

As far as the security of the money--------each state regulates the funeral industry. The laws and regulations can vary widely. My Mom lives in Michigan. I checked, as a result of gypsy79's post, with the funeral director who will be handling our account. The money goes into an escrow account that is regulated by the state. There are a lot of restrictions on how it can be invested. The contracts cannot be resold in the secondary securities market like they can be in some states. He related a horror story to me about something that happened in Tennessee not long ago. A private investor bought up a large number of pre-paid funeral contracts. He took all the money that was in those accounts and invested it poorly, and then lost 20 million dollars in the market. Everyone who had money in the accounts he bought up lost everything. The state of Tennessee didn't have sufficient regulations in place to protect consumers in the funeral industry. Michigan does. According to him, Michigan has some of the tightest and best regulations in the country.

 

So the bottom line is this:

 

Before you enter into any contract for a pre-planned funeral, or put out any money, make sure you know what protections are in place in your state to ensure the safety of that money. Any funeral director or consumer advocate office should be able to tell you what you need to know.

 

End of today's lesson on funerals. :rolleyes:

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I'm donating my body to science--especially my brain. I want med students to be able to examine the brain of a chronically depressed person (moi) to someone who had a healthy mentality. If my organs can be harvested to help others, all the better.

 

I was also thinking about this. I'm not sure if I'd go through with it or not, but I have quite awhile to think about it (I hope, anyway).

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Wow... I had no idea how much work it is to die! Thanks for the info everyone.

To die is the easy part. For the people who still lives, to take care of the business, it's a lot of work. ;) (Just picking on your phrasing...)

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I love the Big Lebowski funeral!

 

Perhaps the best, though, was Hunter S. Thompson's. He had his ashes shot out of a cannon.

 

I'm glad you posted this. I will have to draw up plans for my own big party ...

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My husband and I are considering writing wills for ourselves, even though we're very young. We just don't want an unfortunate spouse having to fight the tide of religion and insistent families while grieving. Also, if we died together, it would be an inevitable last slap in the face to have a disgustingly xtian funeral preaching about how we're in hell now because of our pride and willful disobedience. Ugh. So, has anyone else done this? Any advice for how to set that up? What sort of stuff do you do? We'd also like to designate memorial gifts to a charity, but are their any good non-religious ones?

 

There are tons of different charities out there that are non-religious. I give money to population connection, which I think is aligned with what you do, and Doctor's without borders is another.

 

As for funeral, I'll start by noting that those in the industry generally honor the desires of the next of kin regardless of what is written in the will, so if they want a funeral, you may get one.

 

My plan is to donate my body to science, and then when that's done, have my ashes spread somewhere. And to have a big party for those who are left around.

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Since I plan on no marriage and no kids, and I'm an only child, I don't think I'll have anyone but the state or a cousin around if I live to a decent age. All I want is to have whatever organs people need donated, then cremation, then fertilizer for a nice rosebush. Doubt I'll have the money or family left for a wake or anything else.

 

On a side note, my dad, who is Lutheran, wants us to give his body to the Marines to deal with, or cremation; he doesn't care. My mom, who is Catholic, wasn't very pleased with that idea; she wants to be buried. I'd cremate them both, mix the ashes, and fertilized a tree. :wicked: Honestly, they'll be dead. Dad is the smart one; he knows he won't care after that point. And I have no desire to visit cemetaries as if it matters to them.

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Since I plan on no marriage and no kids, and I'm an only child, I don't think I'll have anyone but the state or a cousin around if I live to a decent age. All I want is to have whatever organs people need donated, then cremation, then fertilizer for a nice rosebush. Doubt I'll have the money or family left for a wake or anything else.

 

On a side note, my dad, who is Lutheran, wants us to give his body to the Marines to deal with, or cremation; he doesn't care. My mom, who is Catholic, wasn't very pleased with that idea; she wants to be buried. I'd cremate them both, mix the ashes, and fertilized a tree. :wicked: Honestly, they'll be dead. Dad is the smart one; he knows he won't care after that point. And I have no desire to visit cemetaries as if it matters to them.

 

 

As an amateur genealogist, let me suggest that you at least consider some kind of permanent memorial, even if you do decide to be cremated. Future generations may want some record of your life and times.

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There is the Humanist associations around the country you can donate to. There are also groups such as NORML, too, that are not religious. There are many secular groups. You can donate to the ACLU.

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1. This topic reminds me that I am mad at the late George Carlin. Years ago he said he wanted to be blown up when he died. Well, that didn't happen. Oh well. I should learn to distinguish between "comedy" and "reality."

 

 

2. Has anybody ever considered donating their body to a "body farm," so that forensic scientists and others can study the effects of environment and such on the decaying body? Is that too gruesome to think about?

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We actually found a charity that we're very impressed with. FINCA is a microfinance organization working to develop small business economy in areas blighted with poverty. I'm pleased with the work being done in organizations like ACLU, FFRF, and the like, but we really wanted to help alleviate suffering in those areas of the world.

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2. Has anybody ever considered donating their body to a "body farm," so that forensic scientists and others can study the effects of environment and such on the decaying body?

 

No, but that sounds really interesting!

 

Is that too gruesome to think about?

 

No.

 

Is this something you've considered?

 

Phanta

 

I saw something on TV about one of those places a couple of years ago. I guess you can donate your body to a better cause if you're not squeamish in this life----------

 

http://science.howstuffworks.com/body-farm.htm

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