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Old 03-29-2015, 10:49 PM
 
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This weekend, we attended yet another funeral, where the pastor quite obviously had no real relationship with the deceased. Several of our friends have recently begun attending church, after years away, and I have an inkling it might be because they are thinking ahead, even though we are all in our 50s.

But, my husband and I don't want to go that route. We don't want any religious ceremony at all. If he goes before me though, I would like some sort of gathering in his honor, just not at a funeral home, as we both want a simple cremation.

I'm sure we can't be the only people who don't want to resort to a church service, but I've never been to a non-religious funeral, and I can't quite figure out how to make our wishes known, or what a meaningful goodby ceremony would entail.

I'm not sure this is the right forum, but if anybody has any experience in the area, I'd like your thoughts.
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:06 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
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You can do a memorial service using one of the rooms at a funeral home. You can use photos of your loved one. And you can ask for attendees to share any memory if they desire. Have nice poem or other short work read--perhaps something the deceased loved. Get a family member to handle the "hosting" chore, so that things move along at the proper pace. There is nothing more awful than having to sit through an interminable funeral or memorial service, in a hot room without proper acoustics. But done right, it can be a good experience. Those close to the family can meet later for a meal.

Good luck.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:09 AM
 
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When my husband passed away last fall, he was cremated. I did not use a funeral home at all but went directly to a crematoriam here in NC. Cut out the middleman and it was so much less expensive! (suggestion from Hospice actually) and since it was so far away, all arrangements were handled through email or over the phone. Coming to get him and bringing back his ashes was all included and they were so kind and compassionate. I cannot praise them enough!

However, most of his family and long time friends were up north and not able to make it down for the small gathering that my kids and I planned.

So, they made their own memorial celebration up north the next month with my blessing.

They found a large enough space for the amount of people who might attend. Free space actually through an organization that a family member belonged to. Had it catered. They put an obituary in the local paper mentioning this celebration of life to be held. They put it on Facebook too as they all keep in touch that way. Ahead of time they gathered photos and momentos to be displayed etc. If people wanted to say a few words, they were encouraged to do so etc.

It went very well and they were so glad they did it.

You can do ANY kind of service/memorial/celebration of life that YOU want to have. If it hadn't been cold up north, they would have loved to have had it outside in a park. But, it was what it was, and it was a success. I know my hubby would have loved it.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:50 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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I endorse the ideas presented in posts #2 and #3. Actually, you can have a very traditional funeral service which is non-religious; it just won't be in a place of worship. Most funeral homes have their own chapels, although some of them are on the smallish side. The person arranging the funeral is the paying customer, and there is no requirement that a clergy person officiate. Or, alternatively, the service can depart from tradition in any number of ways. (Again, the person who pays the piper calls the tune).

The term "memorial service" normally means the body is not present, i.e., burial or other disposal has already taken place. Therefore, as stated in post #3, the funeral home doesn't even have to be involved. Whereas "funeral service" normally means the body is present, whether the casket remains closed or not.

For a brief period - five or six years - I had a moonlighting job in the funeral industry, so I was able to observe differences in tradition among different religions and different cultures.
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
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IMHO, unless you're Roman Catholic or a member of a conservative Lutheran congregation, your choices are almost limitless to how you want the "final arrangements" made. There's even burial at sea if your loved one liked cruising or fishing or sailing.

Most people today are choosing the nonreligious option these days when it comes to weddings and funerals, which is just fine with me. I think its pretty hypocritical for non-religious people to have religious service just because everyone else does. That's the way it was 25 years ago.
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:55 AM
 
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When it comes to funerals...or to weddings...there is a huge industry that sells services. During that stressful time, it is difficult to think clearly and even more difficult to avoid conforming with what the industry tells us we should do. Some of the practices just seem to make little sense. We are supposed to buy a very expensive and ornate casket. It even has to be hermetically sealed so the remains will rot turn to soup but will still be contained in the casket. If you want something different, it is essential to plan the details in advance. My very conservative in laws opted for having ashes scattered at sea. They were not especially nautical or even attached to the sea but somehow the idea appealed to them and all arrangements were made years in advance through the Neptune Society.
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Florida -
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I worked for a time at ALF/Nursing homes where people no longer had church connections and I was their 'last pastor.' There, I conducted a number of funeral/memorial services for people I barely knew; and during that time, was also asked by some non-churched families to conduct services for a loved one.

From this side of the pulpit, I can tell you that it is difficult to conduct services for someone that one didn't know ... and almost impossible to conduct a meaningful service for someone who had no faith relationship with God. But, funeral/memorial services are more for those left behind, than the deceased - and one tries to provide as much comfort and truth as possible...without pretending that everyone automatically goes to heaven.

Conducting services for a fellow Christian whom one knew, is typically more of a joyful celebration of life, that everyone can find comfort in.
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:23 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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We recently lost my mother-in-law, and had no service or memorial at all. She was 95 and none of her family or friends were left, just us, the immediate family. When there is a need for a larger number of people to achieve the closure of a memorial service, it can be a drop-in at someone's home. There is no need to spend a lot of money at a funeral home. A simple cremation with a modest container can be less than $1,000, and the deceased doesn't care how much the family spends.
Expensive, elaborate funerals always seem to be done for show. I have been to several at churches that seemed very hypocritical, because the deceased never went to church. People should make their wishes clear well ahead of time, not only in their will but also discuss it with family.
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:37 AM
 
950 posts, read 714,835 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
We recently lost my mother-in-law, and had no service or memorial at all. She was 95 and none of her family or friends were left, just us, the immediate family. When there is a need for a larger number of people to achieve the closure of a memorial service, it can be a drop-in at someone's home. There is no need to spend a lot of money at a funeral home. A simple cremation with a modest container can be less than $1,000, and the deceased doesn't care how much the family spends.
Expensive, elaborate funerals always seem to be done for show. I have been to several at churches that seemed very hypocritical, because the deceased never went to church. People should make their wishes clear well ahead of time, not only in their will but also discuss it with family.
If one goes through a funeral home, very hard to get body picked up, cremation , and urn for under $1,000

It cost me $1,400 for my wife and that was way cheaper than the state I used to live in .
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:37 AM
 
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I've been to all sorts of "funerals" and even bellydanced (middle eastern performer here) funerals. Some folks have a large party outdoors as a celebration. I say do what you think your friends would enjoy as a memorial to you without being too morbid. And if you are spiritual, have someone say something that if you are a ghost hovering nearby, it would convince you that you are indeed dead, and need to move on.
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