How to plan for a non-religious funeral

In the case of planning your funeral, or making sure that the wishes of a loved one are met, you must keep in mind that everyone is different and it implies that no two funerals should be the same. These days, there has been an increase in the demand for non-religious or, but the problem comes in is people do not know how to pay homage to their loved ones outside of the traditional, religious order.

Upon breaking the boundaries of funerals all around the world these days, the allowances for funeral wishes are more accepted and expected by families and funeral companies. Provided below is the information that will help you in planning a non-religious funeral.

What is a non-religious funeral?

As the title suggests, this is a funeral that takes place without the involvement of any religious party. Sometimes it is called a celebration of life or as others might refer to it as a humanist funeral. However, this funeral can still have religious readings and hymns if requested.

What is a Non-Religious Funeral Service?

A non-religious funeral service is a ceremony that honours the deceased but is not associated with any traditions, rituals, or beliefs of any particular religion. Keep in mind that all religions come with traditions and rituals which aim at honouring the dead and assisting bereaved families in handling their grief. It is quite a normal thing for there to be a fitting way to remember a departed loved one and a good means of saying goodbye. So a lot of similar elements like eulogies and non-religious readings are used at such a ceremony. A non-religious funeral service seeks to allow mourners to make an expression of their sadness and give condolences to the family. In some instances, the funeral service may also be a celebration of the life which the deceased person lived.

Where can non-religious funerals be held?

The answer to this question is straightforward, these types of funerals can be held anywhere. For, the ceremony is capable of taking place at a crematorium or cemetery chapel, natural burial site, or in a venue that is non-religious such as a parish hall or hotel. These non-religious funerals can also take place in larger funeral homes or even in your home.

In the case that you would like the funeral to take place at a location that your loved one took as a favourite place to visit, arrangements can be made for the service to take thereupon speaking to your local funeral director and they will see if they can arrange this for you.

Who can conduct a non-religious or part-religious funeral?

Anyone stands a chance of conducting a non-religious funeral ceremony. A non-religious funeral celebrant might be used or you could make the inclusion of friends or family members. A plan can be made on what you would like to be included in this funeral ceremony and the certain order in which the memorial will run. Here are examples of some things that might be preferred on the ceremony:

A selection of music can be picked, that is favourite songs for the beginning, middle, and end of the ceremony.

Readings to be performed by a family member, friend, or non-religious celebrant.

A poem can be chosen to be read at the funeral, it might be a poem related to the personal preference of the deceased or one which is special to you.

You might share stories of your loved ones.

How NE Dowing Can Help With A Non-Religious Funeral

The funeral that you want for your loved one is what we do at Ne Dowing.  You can hold the funeral wherever you wish, in the garden, on the football field, or in the church. The service can be taken by anyone you desire. You don’t necessarily have to be a clergyman or a priest. A humanist, a celebrant, a friend or a family member can perform the ceremony.

We have divided our services into three major categories.

Non-Religious Funeral Etiquette

It is expected of any guests who attend this non-religious funeral service to conduct themselves in a way they would at any funeral service, either religious or otherwise. The feelings and grief are the same regardless of whether it is a non-religious funeral service or a religious one.

The general mood is expected to be sombre and for the guests to conduct themselves in a respectable manner according to the family’s wishes. There might be instances where the family might wish to take the ceremony to a more celebratory nature, where joy and fondness are the pillars of this ceremony. Music that was enjoyed by the departed person during their lifetime might be there hence be expectant to hear non-traditional music at some non-religious funerals.

Proper Dress Attire

Guests are expected to dress in a way that is traditionally recognized as proper mourning attire. For instance, black or dark colours and style has to be taken care of. In the case that the family makes it known that another type of attire is appropriate following the nature of the funeral service, that is when exceptions can be made.

Non-Religious Funeral Traditions

Due to the fact that there are no traditions that are set for non-religious burial ceremonies, they tend to be highly personalized. This implies that this ceremony will be filled with a lot of things related to the person’s life as told by friends and family like inspirational readings and stories.

Funeral Format & Displaying the Deceased

Non-religious funeral services may not follow any particular religious traditions but most of the time they follow the same general format: an opening statement, stories from friends and family, a eulogy from a respected member of the community, a moment of silence or meditation, and perhaps some music. Readings are something that is not missed which is a common thing at any type of funeral service. The main goal of any funeral ceremony is to make a gathering of the bereaved to remember the deceased and comforting the grieving family. Non-religious readings, they might be famous works of prose and poetry or might just especially be written for the service, have a way of bringing everyone together during the ceremony.

Guidelines about an autopsy, cremation, and embalming would come directly from the individual or the family of the individual since the deceased person was not a follower of a particular religion. For guests who are in attendance of a non-religious funeral, a range of scenarios can be expected: an open casket funeral, a closed-casket funeral, or a funeral where the ashes of the departed are present in some type of ceremonial urn.

Green Burials

At a non-religious burial, be sure to expect almost anything. As a matter of fact, many new and growing non-religious funeral traditions make the inclusion of a green burial. Some refer to this as eco-burials or natural burials, as they often entail a biodegradable coffin and a quick burial. This funeral is expected to take place within 24 or 48 hours of death. This burial is most likely to feature a closed casket and skip the step of body embalming.


Donations are such a great way to honour the deceased, regardless of the beliefs they had during their lifetime. Other alternative ways of honouring the deceased include delivering some type of tribute to the life lived. In the case of green burials, it might be suitable to give potted plants as a gift of sympathy. Cutting of flowers relies on resource-heavy flower farming, which may not align with ‘green’ principles supported by the deceased. Sending locally sourced, organic flowers can also be an appropriate way to show your sympathy for the deceased person’s family.

Funeral Celebrant & Venue

The funeral celebrant can be anyone which the family seems worthy to lead the ceremony. It might be a respectable member of the community or sometimes a family member. In other cases, the funeral director gives guidance on the format of the service which greatly helps the family to give a fitting service for the deceased.

The venue of the non-religious funeral service can be chosen by the family, even the chapel of a religious community. It might be a simple memorial service or a full-fledged ceremony which might be a true reflection of the deceased person’s life and tastes. Keep in mind that non-religious funerals are typically highly personalized, including the location of the ceremony.

Non-Religious Funeral Readings

Choosing a non-religious funeral reading can prove to be tough for many. Words are very essential as they show your admiration and grief hence the need to choose them wisely when planning a loved one’s funeral, or your own. Inputting your personal touch will prove to be very helpful as an officiant might not have known your loved one directly. Finding a non-religious reading can be tough, hence an alternative can be poetry.

In other instances, you might choose not to do poetry as there are many options for readings at a funeral. A combination of memorable quotes either from the deceased, or you can create a reading based on a catchphrase of your loved one used to form an effective and thought-provoking tribute.

In other instances, why not just make incorporate favourite memories into the section? This allows the opportunity for several guests to say a few words or memories.

Music choices for a funeral

The taste of music is a very personal decision and therefore an important aspect when it comes to funerals. An essential step would be the favourite song or songs of the deceased. Everyone is associated with a type of music that can represent them originally and wholly.

A substitute for hymns at a funeral

Hymns have a long relationship with funerals and are often a good way to bring the congregation together through song. Yet normally hymns are mostly associated with religion hence some might feel not appropriate to represent them or they’re loved on.

You can choose to make it personal and make the inclusion of a university anthem, or your loved one’s favourite football anthem. If the deceased was patriotic, you can choose to play the national anthem.

Including special locations in the tribute

Places tend to play a very big role in our lives and they influence much of our precious memories. For some, funerals ought to be conducted at specific locations, like the crematorium or church, but you still have the right to include special locations within the tribute, either through the wake of a separate memorial.

The concept of holding a ceremony at the favourite of the deceased is just a simple way of remembering the deceased at their happiest. These locations could be:

Your local community centres

If the deceased were an active member of the community, this would be an appropriate place to celebrate their life and this is a location that is easily accessible by people.

Your local football stadium

If your loved one was active in terms of football or if they were proud supporters, this could be the right tribute for the deceased.


If the weather permits it, an outdoor private memorial or wake could prove to be a great space with lovely scenery to get everyone together to pay their final respects.

There’s no place like home

Holding the funeral ceremony in a location where your loved one lived allows guests to feel closer to the person who has passed away, which creates a safe space for a family who might have a feeling too overwhelmed to face the public early on.

non-religious funeral service script

This refers to what is to be said at a non-religious funeral service. Condolences are often offered and words of comfort which are deemed to be appropriate according to the tone of the funeral are also offered at the ceremony. It could be one’s wish to share a heartfelt condolence story with mourning a loved one and reminisce about a shared experience. In the case that the non-religious ceremony is filled with a more sombre tone, sincere condolences have to be offered and their loss simply has to be acknowledged. In an instance that you would like to contribute to the ceremony, you might need to have a word with a family member or someone who is helping arrange the memorial, to see if this act will be possible. If you find yourself wanting to know more about the non-religious funeral ceremony, speak to the funeral director to know more.

What is a funeral like for an atheist?

An atheist funeral is a funeral ceremony that is conducted for someone who did not follow any religion and rejects views associated with life and death. At an atheist funeral, there are no religious readings or hymns, mourners are given a chance to read extracts from a favourite book, recite a poem, or share stories of the deceased. This can be a heartfelt tribute in their memory, celebrating their life with family and friends.

What happens at an atheist funeral?

Guests which attend an atheist funeral should be ready to hear any or all of the following: memories from friends and family, stories of the deceased person’s life, music that the deceased person enjoyed during life, and readings. Readings for funerals always serve to help the grieving family, hence be expectant of these offerings to be inspirational.

What is a humanist funeral service?

This can be referred to as a funeral service for people who chose to call themselves humanists during their life. Humanism is not a religious tradition that is why the funeral type is a non-religious one. Anyone is still at liberty to choose a humanist funeral.

This type of funeral service pays tribute to your loved one without any religious connotations and takes to heart the grief of death, whilst also celebrating the life and heritage of a loved one.

Humanist funerals endeavour to keep the ceremony as personal as possible, and they focus much on the list one rather than anything else. A humanist celebrant could give you guidance on the process of arranging a non-religious funeral service.

What is a non-religious funeral called?

A non-religious funeral is sometimes known as a celebration of life or a humanist funeral. The thing is, this funeral type can still have religious readings and hymns if requested.

What is a humanist celebrant?

This is a person who is a performer of important services for people who choose a secular celebrant at funerals, weddings, and other rituals.

What do you wear to a non-religious funeral?

This is just like any other funeral hence the need to wear in a respectable manner that suits the tone of the funeral. The etiquette for what to wear can be a choice previously made by the person who has passed away. They may have wanted everyone to wear bright colours or wear something that means something to them, for example, a favourite flower of theirs. Although there are no rules which are set in terms of dressing for non-religious funeral ceremonies, it is right to wear appropriate colours, like darker colours which seem more respectable for funerals.

What happens after the funeral?

When the funeral service is done and finished, what would come into your mind is creating a lasting tribute. The deceased might choose to be cremated or a consideration might be made to spread the ashes somewhere special, or they might be stored at home so that you might feel a sense of closeness to them. This is rather a personal choice that needs careful consideration.

A consideration of placing a photo collage in your home to preserve your favourite memories might be placed in your home. Personal items might also be an addition to this and placed in a private place which gives an allowance to loved ones to reflect when they wish to.

Every funeral, wake or it might be a private memorial is an individual and special person to you or your loved one, hence the need for careful planning and preparation to make sure that you or your loved one have the desired ceremony.