In a few years I will be forty and the topic of my death and how I will be buried has crept into my mind from time to time. Now I'm hoping that I will live a long life and will have figured it out by then. But I can't help to wonder, if I die tomorrow, will my wishes to be buried non-religiously be followed through with?

As you know, Christians have this topic covered. Every burial I have witnessed is steeped in religion, even the state held ones. But for me or someone who doesn’t want a religious burial, what do you do? Where do you go to make sure that your final requests are followed? What organizations are out there to help in such matters? I have tried for many years to separate myself from my religious roots and I certainly don’t want to be trust back into it upon my demise.

The only discussion with my family concerning my death is that I am requesting to be cremated. I know I should discuss this with them and get it out there, but I think they would still bury me Christian.

I have also thought that all this is for not because I will be dead and I won’t know the difference. So why worry about it? Then I think, if I was Christian or religious then this wouldn't be an issue and that just pisses me off!!!!!

I am the only “out” atheist in my family. My mother, who is a devout Christian, will want a “Christian” burial for me no matter what I say, I am pretty sure of it. I haven’t discussed my wishes with her because I don't think it would do any good.

I do have some ideals on how I want to be remembered and put to rest. I think that I want my ashes to be placed in the ground under a newly planted tree on my families’ property. The tree will serve as my tombstone and I think my family will always call that tree “Duwayne’s Tree”. (“Duwayne” is my middle name and that is what my family calls me by). I certainly don’t want to have a service in any church, or even have a pastor/preacher/religious person to conduct the remembrances.

Well I guess that this is where you can add your two cents to my thoughts. I would like to know if anyone has any ideals on my dilemma? I would like to know has anyone else come across this problem or thought about how they would handle this issue? I would like to know am I worrying about “nothing” or is there some solution out there I am unaware of? Your comments will be greatly welcome.

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I would suggest that you visit an attorney and have them help you to write a Will. Your Will can include directions for your funeral. (This is what we have done.) Our Wills say explicitly that we are to be cremated, and there is to be no funeral service. Our deaths are to be commemorated by a family gathering in our garden. No member of the clergy or celebrant is to officiate. We have ensured that the executors of our Wills are non-religious so that our wishes will be followed.

If you don't have a non-religious friend or relative you can appoint as your executor, you can appoint the attorney as your executor.

You can also arrange your own funeral by visiting a local funeral parlor, filling out all the required forms, and, if you wish, pre-paying (although this may not be possible). Discuss your wishes with the funeral director and ask if they are able to ensure that your funeral will be secular - despite any wishes your family may have.

If you are, wisely, making plans such as this, remember that you should also appoint an enduring power of attorney to make financial and health decisions for you should you become incapacitated. You should also have a Living Will, or Advance Health Directive, which sets out your wishes regarding life support and resuscitation. I have discussed my AHD with my doctor and he is very aware of my wishes. My power of attorney has the authority to make decisions for me if I am unable to do so myself. I chose my cousin, Doug (also a member of Atheist Nexus), as we share the views on life and death and religion.

Big tip - DO not tell the person who can 'pull the plug' on you that they are also set to inherit in your Will. Doug has been grinning about this for months! ;-)
Glad to see someone address this issue. My greatest fear (death) is only trumped by what others would do to me after I'm dead. I'm not at all trying to be funny, but any type of ceremony performed for a corpse is really a celebration for those still living. The precautions I've personally taken are to have a simple will (i.e. This goes to Bob, that goes to Jane). Make sure your benificiary & executor are two different people which you can trust to keep your intentions at heart (I used my father & sister). Make sure that the people you trust are trustworthy. I've chosen to be creamated just because it's cheaper (If I'm dead, I don't care). Any type of "formal" ceremony would cost my loved ones money they don't need to spend. Then I wrote out a seperate declaration stating that "under no circumstances should my remains lay under a crucifix" (among other things). Anything you sign can be attached to your will, it's just a matter of your executor carrying out your wishes. Even though I've done every legal thing possible to prevent a theistic burial, there's always the chance that some bible beating family member will disrespect my corpse. I don't know how to shield myself from this, other than relying on those who I trust to carry out my will. To sum up - Write a good will & have people who respect you take the reigns of your life after your gone. Remember: Anything you write can be attached to your will. Cheers!
One of the nicest (and funniest) funerals I've attended was a Rosicrucian funeral. Our dear old friend, George, died and his fellow Rosicrucians (and assorted other friends) assembled for the ceremony. It was a simple, and touching ceremony but the highlight was afterwards as everyone mingled drinking tea and eating finger food.

The conversations went something along the lines of:

"Well, that was lovely. George certainly enjoyed it. Did you see him?"
"Yes, he was sitting next to me at one stage!"
"Well, I loved it when he just stood next to his coffin and looked out on us all and smiled."
"Yes, that was a lovely moment wasn't it?"
"Oh look! There he is over there with Martha and Jim!"
"Oh, so he is! And doesn't he look dapper!"
"It's so nice he could be here to enjoy his own funeral, isn't it?"

Mum and I stifled our giggles and made a decorous exit and headed straight for the pub!

Regardless of whether they were all completely bonkers, George certainly had the funeral he would have wanted!
I would like to take a little time to write something about this, as it is a subject that I have given much thought (I'm sure we all have). However, I don't have but a sec, so for now I just wanted to tell ya'll about what I said to my mother about my passing. She is one of these middle of the road spiritualists, if that is such a thing. Anyway, I told her my wishes, and she said, well alright, you know I don't agree but I will do as you ask. I said great, thanks mom, and just remember if you don't and I am wrong about an afterlife, I will spend mine haunting you! ;-)




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