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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-15-11 07:59 PM
Original message
My first atheist funeral
Edited on Sat Oct-15-11 08:06 PM by undeterred
A good friend of mine died early last week and today there was a ceremony for her. I met her walking my dog in the woods- she was also walking hers- and it turns out that was the place where the ceremony was held. She wasn't the least bit religious. She had been married to someone from India but he wasn't religious either.

She loved animals, and the Beatles, and nature. About 25 people came. Four of us brought our dogs. And we stood in a circle in the woods, and her son played a tape of some Beatles songs, and we told stories about her. Nobody really officiated. The dogs participated. One man sang. One person sobbed. At the end some of the family members scattered her ashes into the wind.

I haven't been to that many funerals, but most of them have been religious and there has always been somebody who was pretty damn sure where the dead one was, metaphysically speaking. Today our loved one was in the baggie that was picked up from the funeral home. And we brought her to a physical place that she loved. Kind of symbolic, but also very tangible. She was there.

The path through the woods is a circle. We meet, we live, we die. Life continues.

I don't know that one way is better than another or that she ever discussed her wishes, but I do think she would have liked this. I liked it much better than a more solemn service. I liked participating.

The Long and Winding Road is a good song to play for such an occasion...I hadn't known that she loved the Beatles, so I even learned something new about her today.
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progressoid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-16-11 02:30 AM
Response to Original message
1. That sounds very thoughtful and appropriate.
:hug:

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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-16-11 12:58 PM
Response to Original message
2. That's how it was with my father and his mother.
My Grandmother was a nonpracticing Protestant and a cleric who know her gave a speech. We were at my father's Christmas tree farm (a secular holiday for us) and her sons each said something about her from the heart. Then we scattered her ashes and went inside for soup.

Six months later my father, 51, had a stroke and died from it and we repeated the process. This time his brothers, my sister, his wife and I gave speeches. He was an atheist but had back-slid somewhat and a couple of clerics gave the usual speeches. And we sang How Impotent--er, I mean Great--Thou Art because of its nature references. My Dad loved outdoorsy stuff.

But yeah, even with the religious bits, it was far better than some stuffy funeral home wake and funeral.
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-16-11 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
3. We memorialized my brother last weekend.
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

After the regular church thing, we gathered for
a bonfire at the home of an old friend of his.

Still pretty raw.

:cry:

I'm glad that we are beginning to seek and FIND
meaningful ceremonies.

:hug:
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-17-11 11:53 AM
Response to Original message
4. Youve reminded me of the gathering we held for my maternal grandparents.
My mother's parents were both strong atheists (Im in the third of four generations of such in my family) and they left strict instructions that no memorial services of any kind were to be held following their deaths. They died about a year apart, and were both cremated.

About three months after my grandmother died (at the lucid age of 94, in her sleep, following two weeks of deliberate self-dehydration) my parents called the immediate family together at the family farm, no reason given.

When we arrived we were shown two lines of conical beer glasses on the dining room table. Each had about two inches of ash in it. The green glasses held my grandmothers ashes, the clear ones held my grandfathers. We were invited to take one of each, to go out separately to different places on the farm that held special memories for us, and deposit the ashes as we felt moved to do.

On my way back into the house after a very quiet reflective walk through my childhood haunts, I saw my brother-in-law standing on the top of the tallest hill on the farm with both glasses in one hand. With a flick of his arm he sent a plume of ashes into the air, to mix in the wind and drift away.

Not a word of memorial was spoken. We know we violated the spirit of their request, but we think that as good humanists theyd have understood.
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Kerrytravelers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-18-11 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
5. And it felt like you were saying goodbye to the person, not putting on a show.
Whenever I'm at a religious funeral, regardless of the religion, it feels more like a performance than a goodbye. Everything has to be choreographed and doesn't feel organic nor authentic.
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sarcasmo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-29-11 08:45 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I always felt the same way that religious funerals were a show.
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