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Non traditional funeral/memorial service

(92 Posts)
Nanamar Thu 05-Mar-20 12:02:11

I know it’s a morbid topic but am wondering if anyone out there has had experience with having a non-traditional funeral or memorial service for a loved one. By this I mean not having a religious service, since we do not follow any religion, and not having calling hours (a wake) at a funeral home since I personally have always disliked that practice. I’ve heard of people having a celebration of life at, for example, the loved ones favorite place such as a beach, etc. but there may really not be a relevant place for particular individual. I do believe in each person making their wishes known to family members but am just looking for some possible alternatives for myself and for my loved ones.

ninathenana Thu 05-Mar-20 12:19:05

My cousin arranged a non religious cremation for her mum. Another cousin gave a eulogy, some music was played 'for time to reflect and remember' and that was it. I don't know what she did with her mum's ashes.
I know there are woodland burial grounds in some areas.

Namsnanny Thu 05-Mar-20 12:29:23

I've just attended a memorial at a hotel. My relative was cremated (no gathering or religious service). When appropriate the ashes were collected and a later day was set for scattering and memorial.
Not everyone attended the scattering g of ashes. Buy many went to the bean feast at the hotel.
Is this a useful template for you to copy?

Willynilly Thu 05-Mar-20 12:31:46

Yes, my DH arranged his own with our help. No funeral. Natural burial with a few present, then a ‘do’ afterwards.

BlueSky Thu 05-Mar-20 12:40:23

I want a natural burial with perhaps a Humanist celebrant saying a few words about my life. Then a drink at a local pub! wine

Missfoodlove Thu 05-Mar-20 15:24:40

My husband was asked to officiate for a friends funeral.
It was really moving, friends read out their memories of the deceased and some of his favourite classical music was played.

Smileless2012 Thu 05-Mar-20 15:28:02

My step father had a humanist funeral service and it was lovely followed by cremation.

vegansrock Thu 05-Mar-20 15:30:53

You don’t have to have a celebrant. My OH officiated at his mother’s funeral. There were no hymns or prayers. Some live music and a few readings.

aggie Thu 05-Mar-20 15:41:25

I would like a full blown Catholic Funeral , with robes , Choir, incense and eulogy , a wake for three days first and a meal with all the trimmings after

BUT ....................

I won't be around to see it , so whatever happens happens

tanith Thu 05-Mar-20 15:41:51

We had a celebrant for DHs funeral. Nothing religious just lots of lovely and funny memories and stories about his life. We played some of his favourite music some of it very lively but much appreciated by family and friends. A few minutes for reflection it was very uplifting somehow. Our family scattered his ashes nearly a year later.

rosecarmel Thu 05-Mar-20 16:12:31

I had my husband cremated without any fanfare- The loss and the company of loved ones was enough- His place of employment had a memorial luncheon for coworkers- He passed quietly, surrounded by family, all of us gently holding him as his breath left his body- For us, it was both a gift and a shared responsibility, as life was-

Some people felt slighted that nothing "traditional" was done- Some people like to say goodbye and be done, having paid their respects in familiar ways- As for us, we're still saying goodbye almost 2 years later-

To each their own-

Willynilly Thu 05-Mar-20 16:14:27

Can I suggest that whatever you decide, you put it in writing. We were ‘lucky’ in that my late DH helped in the planning so we could say with absolute certainty that was exactly as he wished it to be. We didn’t have a celebrant at the burial or the ‘do’ after but did it all ourselves.

FlyingSolo Thu 05-Mar-20 17:28:43

Rosecarmel, I am interested in what you mean when you say that some people felt slighted that nothing traditional was done for your husband. I could understand if you had meant that they felt he would have wanted or ought to have been given something more. I am not saying that they would have been right to think that. It is just that it seems you mean they felt you had done something that had offended them by not having a traditional funeral.

I find this an interesting topic as when my time comes I want to be allowed to go as quietly as possible without any funeral or gathering. I would go as far as to say the thought of people gathering and talking about me once I am gone horrifies me.

I do understand what you mean though when you say you are still saying goodbye almost 2 years later. I wish you well. x

SalsaQueen Thu 05-Mar-20 17:29:50

My dad left his body to medical science, so there wasn't a funeral. We had a little gathering at the hospital and a vicar (or whatever his title was) said some words about our dad's life, then we went to a local pub for a drink and some sandwiches.

I plan to do the same, and so does my husband - we both signed up for body donation, about 15 years ago

JuliaM Thu 05-Mar-20 17:59:48

My sister in law wanted to donate her body for medical research, but was turned down due to the fact that she had died of cancer. It always pays to have a 'plan B' incase this ever happens to anyone else in the future. An offer of donation does not gaurantee an offer of acceptance of a body for research once a person is deceased.
We ended up holding a short and simple cremation ceremony for her ith only close family members in attendance.

rosecarmel Thu 05-Mar-20 18:33:14

FlyingSolo, some people were upset that I chose not have a memorial service- I imagine for them- To say goodbye in a way they might have liked: a rented room, food, wine, or laid out in a casket- Perhaps according to their idea of what they thought he might have like? That could be too- I had no knowledge of him discussing his death with any of them- And they didn't indicate he did- They expressed their disappointment in their tone and questions-

FlyingSolo Thu 05-Mar-20 19:04:59

Thank you for answering me, Rosecarmel.

Nanamar Thu 05-Mar-20 19:18:27

I can see that happening, unfortunately, rosecarmel and FlyingSolo. For example, I am an only child and parents are both gone as are my aunts and uncles. I also want to “go out” quietly and privately although I can envision some type of gathering that very close friends and family can attend. My DH has two sisters and if he predeceases them, I anticipate that they would want the usual wake and funeral - perhaps so that their friends can come and pay respects, for example, as they’ve attended wakes and funerals for the family members of those friends. That’s why I agree that it’s critical that each person puts in writing what they want; in my case there will be no one to argue with about it since it would be only my husband or our son making arrangements and I know they’ed honor my wishes. I’ve even heard of actually inviting people (by written invitation) to a celebration of life at some point after private burial/cremation. While that may possibly offend some who are not invited, I feel that there are many ways these days to offer heartfelt condolences (online for example) that don’t involve one’s physical attendance at a wake or funeral service.

SalsaQueen Thu 05-Mar-20 19:21:54

JuliaM Yes, I realise that. I'm only 60 and at the moment haven't got any health problems at all (nor has my husband) but should either of us develop anything, the funds are available and our sons know we'd want something very simple.

M0nica Thu 05-Mar-20 19:28:12

We organised a funeral for my uncle. We based it on the BBC R4 programme, 'With Great Pleasure' when someone in the public eye speaks and reads to a small audience excerpts from favourite books and poems.

We listed his interests, gathered together suitable poems and readings from books he enjoyed. Then I recounted his life stopping at regular intervals for an appropriate reading. with a different reader for each one. I found a fabulous football poem by Wendy Cope that made everyone laugh. We also played music he loved. It worked very well.

Greeneyedgirl Thu 05-Mar-20 19:37:05

It's becoming more prevalent nowadays not to have a religious funeral as more than half the population do not profess any religion. It is a personal thing, there's no law that says even undertakers have to be involved.
I have been to a few non religious ceremonies which have been much more personal and meaningful than having a vicar officiate who didn't know the deceased person and on the odd occasion, in my experience even got the name wrong.
There are plenty of non religious, or humanist celebrants, and if you use an undertaker they have a list.

Dec46 Thu 05-Mar-20 20:25:47

Today I have told Executors of my Will that I've decided I want a Direct Funeral ie Undertaker will take me to Crematorium and Cremation take place when there is a time slot available.No one present and no fuss but I have no family to be upset by that. I do want there to be a gathering at a place I love at a later date when friends can get together and remember the good times we shared.
Best Funeral I have attended was non religious for an ex Union Leader from Thatcher Era.The Speakers were all brilliant being used to public speaking with lots of stories of the "old times". We sang The Red Flag and end song was, You can't get me I'm part of the Union, which was brilliant.There was so much respect and affection for him and it was very uplifting for everyone there.

tanith Thu 05-Mar-20 21:00:18

Just wanted to add that our lovely celebrant sent me a folder a few weeks later with the whole service printed out with the music and all of the stories/memories included. It’s a lovely thing to read now and then all the wonderful things family and friends recalled and said about DH.

rosecarmel Thu 05-Mar-20 21:13:41

I failed to mention that I did create an online memorial that anyone can access and look at a pictorial history of him, from birth forward- No other history or stories, only his favorite quote- It's been viewed over 1000 times- Anyone wishing to see his face again can-

GrannyLaine Thu 05-Mar-20 21:18:37

Interesting question Nanamar.
My daughter and I were talking about this this morning. When my Mum died last year, I felt very strongly that I wanted her body brought back to her home, rather than remaining at the chapel of rest. The undertaker was dubious, but it was so very important to me and my brother was supportive. It felt just right for her to be there with me in the days up until her funeral. On the day of her funeral, our whole family ( including babes in arms and young children) gathered outside her house to form a guard of honour as she left her home for the last time on her way to the crematorium. We had a non-religious service with a celebrant and I gave the eulogy. It was a truly lovely day and the planning of the funeral helped me a great deal with my grieving. Previously, I'd always thought that it would be a good idea to leave a list of my wishes for my funeral for those who survive me. But now I realise that the celebration needs to meet the needs of those left behind, while respecting the beliefs of the deceased. I do hope this helps.