Religion and your beliefs decide funeral etiquette. For example, Christian funerals focus on helping the deceased in reaching the destination through prayers and hymns. Similarly, Buddhist funerals involve monks chanting while being surrounded by Buddha’s images.

An atheist is a person who does not believe or have faith in any religion. So, what funeral etiquette do you follow for an atheist? Here is some essential information you should know about atheist funeral etiquette.

What Is Included in Atheist Funeral Etiquette?

Gary Cubeta from Insurance for Final Expense mentions that the atheist funeral readings generally talk about the deceased person. Generally, family members and friends recall the past and the moments spent with the person. The atheist funeral proceedings are similar to traditional funerals.

The most crucial part of atheist funeral etiquette there is no religious expression mentioned in the context of funeral etiquette. Suppose you are a believer in Christianity, Buddhism, or any other religion and attending an atheist funeral. In that case, it is always good to put your beliefs aside while talking at the funeral. At atheist funeral proceedings, you need to concentrate on remembering the deceased person.


Experts like Gary Cubeta from Insurance for Final Expense recommend you wear proper attire when attending atheist funeral readings. Traditional mourning is conducted as a non-religious service and what to wear at the funeral depends on the location.

If you have never attended an atheist funeral or don’t know who to ask, you can wear black or any custom dark color to be on the safer side. If the deceased’s family has mentioned attire specifically for the funeral, follow their instructions while choosing attire.

Flowers, Gifts, Cards, and Other Presents

You need to take into consideration the family’s wishes of the deceased when bringing a gift. Since it is a non-religious funeral, there are no steadfast rules regarding flowers, gifts, cards, or other presents at the funeral. If the deceased person was a close friend and you know the family well, you can take traditional flowers or buy a card and write a short sympathy message.

Some families may ask for charity or donations to cover the funeral expenses. If the family has not mentioned gifts or anything specific, you can send a thoughtful card after a week or two to share their sorrow.

Cremation or Burial

Both burial and cremation are standard practices followed at the atheist funeral. Whether the burial will be done in an open casket depends on the deceased wishes, preferences, and circumstances. If the deceased person hasn’t expressed any specific wishes regarding cremation or burial, the family will decide.

An atheist service can be performed at any time or anywhere. Some families choose to do it at the burial site, while some choose to organize a memorial service after burial or cremation.

Readings and Music

Religious hymns or readings are never part of an atheist funeral service. However, the funeral service might have some readings and music. Modern favorites or classical songs can be selected during funeral service. In some cases, the deceased person can plan for his funeral service, including readings and music played at the funeral service. In that case, the deceased person’s preferences are given more importance when organizing a funeral service.

How Is an Atheist Funeral Planned?

A lot depends on the last wishes of the deceased person. Did the person ever mention how his/her funeral should be conducted? What things did the person enjoy? How did the person want him to be buried? Did the deceased person mention any preferences in the past?

The answers to these questions will help you plan the atheist funeral as per the deceased person’s wishes. If you are not an atheist, you should keep your religious beliefs and faith aside when planning an atheist funeral.

What Do You Say to the Grieving Family at the Atheist Funeral?

When you get an opportunity to say a few things at the funeral service, you can share an experience or memory you have related to the deceased person. Expressions like “the deceased person is at a better place now” or “my prayers are with the deceased person” can be used to express your sorrow at the event. If you don’t like these expressions, you can also say, “My wishes and thoughts are with your family.”

To sum up, an atheist funeral service is quite similar to a traditional funeral service. Only the religious aspect is not part of the funeral service. Knowing a few things about atheist funeral service will help you adjust to the situation.