Hi guys, I haven't posted in a long while, but I'd like your thoughts...

My father had major heart surgery last week and was discharged 3 days ago. This morning he was rushed to the hospital for trouble breathing. He's 'ok' now, but I'm preparing myself for the inevitable. I just keep the picturing the funeral and everyone offering their condolences and saying they'll pray for me or for whomever. Worse yet, saying he's with Jesus or some crap like that. 

I know the polite and decent thing to do is say thank you and move on to the next person, but there are some religious nut jobs in my family, and I don't know how I can avoid snapping on them. 

I'm sure many of you have been in the same boat, can you give me some advice?

Thanks in advance

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When my father died I tried to join in the prayers so as not to “make a scene”. But I was unable to and started to get annoyed with myself for even bothering to try. The expression on my face was probably enough to prevent anyone saying anything to me about why I was scowling at myself. LOL!

There were a few later that keep trying to tell me about how it was their gods will or that he was in a better place. The ones that meant well in their own harmless religious way were met with respect and I thanked them. There were a few that got told to zip it because they were “having a go” at me for not bothering with their rituals and I also saw them a pious idiots.

Funerals are a trying enough time as there is so much happening and the few days tend to pass in a bit of a blur. While it was over 25 years ago my only memories are of people that meant well so I think I would let the religious comments slide over me. I would not make a scene but I would not participate in any of the religious parts of it other than with my physical presence.

After that I would tend to keep the company of people who were looking to celebrate his life by telling good stories to help me understand him better. I remember having a good laugh with some friends of his and hearing things that shed new light on him as a man and not just my father. Let the religious swim in their valley of tears.

I hope that day is not too soon but when it arrives just celebrate his life with enthusiasm and maybe that will even make the religious ones feel some warmth. I shall raise a glass from afar to you both.

If there is any place to be real it is at a funeral. The perfunctory religious crap is highly offensive to some of us and highly presumptuous. So if it bothers you to be fake at such a time then in a polite way let the jesus crowd know that they are free to have their beliefs but you dont accept those beliefs nor do you want to hear it at a time when you are grieving.

My understanding is that funerals are for the living. The ones left behind.  

Most of the people there are not going to be there for the guy in the coffin but for the ones there for the guy in the coffin. If they want to pray for someone's soul, or pray for the comfort of the loved ones left behind, or pray for the soul of the resident atheist I'd say "Let them". 

Or you can do what the brother of slain soldier and ex NFL'er Pat Tillman did and tell everyone that they can all cut the bullshit and stop invoking god into everything. Pat Tillman was an atheist as is his brother.

I'd just let it ride and let them think that praying is going to do the trick. Hey, as a goof you can always tell them one day how all that praying didn't do dick...But not at the funeral.

I would let them grieve the way they feel is most natural to them. I don't think a funeral is the time to convert its attendees. Meanwhile, you still have a right to feel how incongruous you and others are... just prepare yourself for it.

As deluded as they may be, they are still experiencing real feelings in the best way they know.

Ha, but if (say) you happened to be on national TV at the time, I might ask you to make a scene that people can remember!

Thank you all. I hope I don't have to deal with this issue for a long long time, but I think taking the high road by grinning and bearing it will be the way to go. There is a time and place to voice my opinion, but that wouldn't be it.


Hi Marc, my hugs to you from afar...

Have you discussed with your Father what HE wants? I now work in the funeral business as a pre-need advisor, and I work every day to help people preplan. I would highly recommend having the conversation soon, and communicate with your funeral director. You can make it what YOU (and he) want it to be. There are some AMAZING ways they can celebrate his life that is completely secular, and it is the funeral director's job to make sure that happens. I would start that process now. It doesn't have to be you receiving those comments. Let the professionals help you curb that by celebrating in the ways you want! It CAN be very special...it will be. Let me know if you have any questions. I know more about the deathcare industry than I ever thought possible.

Dont settle for a miserable experience

Hi Belle, thanks for the virtual hug.

My mom is running the show, she's very religious, as is most of her family. She doesn't even know my brother and I, or our families are atheist. I know it will be a by-the-book Catholic ceremony.

My dad might go to church 5-6 times a year, I think mostly to humor my mom. We've never had a conversation about religion, he's not a big talker, however he's the kind of guy that wouldn't care one way or another if god was proven to exist or not. 

When my time comes I'd definitely like it to be secular, including the Physicist's speech. 

Thanks :)

figured my opinion would be minority...if ya care about integrity that is the precise time to let others know where ya stand...it is as solemn for believers as it is for non.

Jake, there are plenty of atheists who feel the way you do. They used to piss me off because of the way some of them insist that their way to feel and act as an atheist is better than my way. Nowadays, I don't get pissed. I just understand that all atheists are not the same, and in fact the more variety of ways we behave and communicate with non-atheists and other atheists, the better!


Whoops, as usual, I hit the editor's Save button too soon. I meant to add that there are different types of integrity, because the type that I gravitate towards is bending backwards (or at least being more flexible) when it comes to maintaining positive, two-way conversation. For some reason I'm just not skilled enough to hit most people over the head with my ideas, and get positive results.


It's as solemn for atheists as it is for believers. I like that perspective.

oh and here is another thing...how often are theists concerned about offending atheists?

Not the time to make a scene. Also, what would your dad want you to do?


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