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What is a non religious funeral called?

A non religious funeral is also known as a civil funeral. This type of funeral follows no specific religion or faith. Instead, it focuses on celebrating the life of the deceased and allowing loved ones to say goodbye.

What is a civil funeral?

A civil funeral is a non religious funeral ceremony. It does not involve religious rituals, prayers, or references to God or deities. The service respects people of all beliefs and those who do not follow a particular religion.

Civil funerals go by other names, including:

  • Non religious funeral
  • Secular funeral
  • Humanist funeral
  • Celebrant funeral
  • Non denominational funeral

The focus is on the person who died and celebrating their life through music, poetry, stories, and reflections that were meaningful to them.

Civil funeral ceremony

A civil funeral ceremony can be held wherever the family wishes. Common locations include:

  • Funeral home
  • Crematorium
  • Cemetery
  • Private residence
  • Public venue
  • Natural setting, like a park or garden

The service is led by a civil officiant rather than a religious leader. This may be a humanist officiant, secular celebrant, or someone chosen by the family who knew the deceased.

Elements of a non religious funeral may include:

  • Welcoming remarks
  • Eulogy reflecting on the person’s life
  • Tributes or sharing memories and stories
  • Music, songs, or poems that held meaning for the deceased
  • Moment of silence
  • Committal service at burial or cremation
  • Reception gathering

The ceremony can be customized to align with the wishes, personality, and beliefs of the individual who died.

Why choose a non religious funeral?

There are several reasons a non religious funeral may be preferred:

  • The deceased was not religious or followed a particular faith
  • It allows people of different beliefs to come together to grieve and find meaning
  • The family wants the focus to be on the person’s life, rather than religious beliefs
  • It respects the wishes of the deceased for a secular service
  • Religious differences among family members or friends who want to pay respects

Having a non religious funeral gives flexibility to honor the person who died in a more individualized, appropriate way.

Unique characteristics

Civil funerals share some common unique characteristics:

  • Inclusive and welcoming of people from diverse backgrounds
  • Respectful of different beliefs and non-belief
  • Celebrate life with personal reflection
  • Contain no religious connotations
  • Focus is on mourning the loss of loved one
  • Follow philosophies like secular humanism
  • Officiated by a civil celebrant rather than religious leader

Civil funeral process

The process of planning and having a non religious funeral is similar to a traditional religious one. Steps include:

  1. Making initial funeral arrangements
  2. Working with a funeral director on details like location, date, time, announcements, obituary
  3. Selecting a civil officiant to lead service and eulogy
  4. Choosing venue for service and burial/cremation
  5. Deciding on other elements like music, readings, photo display
  6. Inviting family, friends, colleagues to attend service and gathering
  7. Holding funeral ceremony led by civil celebrant
  8. Having burial or cremation committal service
  9. Hosting reception gathering to share memories

The funeral director can advise on the process and required legal paperwork. The family decides how to organize a meaningful, personalized civil funeral.

Cost of non religious funeral

A non religious funeral is similar in cost to a traditional funeral. Costs commonly include:

Funeral Costs Estimated Price Range
Cremation $500 – $3000
Burial plot $1000 – $3000
Burial casket $1000 – $4000
Funeral officiant $200 – $500
Venue rental $500 – $1000
Funeral director fees $1000 – $2500
Headstone $1000 – $5000
Flowers, catering, other $500 – $2000

Having a civil ceremony does not reduce costs compared to a religious service. Total expenses often range from $5000 to $15,000 or more.

Finding civil funeral officiants

To plan a non religious funeral, you will need to find an officiant to lead the service. Options include:

  • Humanist officiants – Trained in humanist philosophy to conduct meaningful secular services.
  • Civil celebrants – Not aligned with any religion. Focused on personalized life celebrations.
  • Non denominational ministers – Do not strictly follow one faith. Flexible to incorporate different beliefs.
  • Friends or family – Someone close to deceased who can give a eulogy and lead service.
  • Attorney or judge – Legal professionals who may perform some civil ceremonies.

Funeral directors can recommend civil officiants in your area. You can also search online directories.

Civil funeral readings

Readings are an important part of memorializing the deceased at a non religious funeral. Typical readings include:

  • Poetry – Reflective poems about life, death, love, legacy.
  • Song lyrics – Lines from meaningful songs.
  • Literature – Passages from books, stories, essays.
  • Personal writings – Diaries, letters, blog posts, speeches.
  • Prayers – Some secular, inspirational, reflective prayers or blessings.
  • Quotes – Thought-provoking quotes and sayings.

Choose selections that capture the personality and values of the deceased. Ask friends and family for suggestions too.

Non religious funeral etiquette

Civil funerals generally follow similar etiquette customs to religious funerals:

  • Wear respectful, dark-colored clothing.
  • Arrive on time for the service.
  • Turn cell phones off or silence them.
  • Bring tissues and expect moments of crying.
  • Express condolences to family of deceased.
  • Send flowers, donate to a charity in memory of deceased, bring food to reception.
  • Reminisce, share happy memories and stories of loved one’s life.
  • Be understanding as people grieve in their own way.
  • Respect wishes of family organizing service.

The atmosphere tends to be more informal and celebrations, while still somber. Follow the family’s cues for appropriate conduct.

Civil funeral program

Funeral programs provide an outline of the service proceedings. Non religious programs generally include:

  • Deceased name and photo on cover
  • Opening remarks and welcome
  • Eulogy and reflections on life
  • Readings, music, or other tributes
  • Expression of loss and mourning
  • Appreciations and thanks
  • Information on final resting place
  • Details about post-service reception

Programs can be basic printed leaflets or more elaborate booklets with photos and memories.


A non religious or civil funeral provides a meaningful way to say goodbye and honor life without conforming to religious conventions. It focuses on personalization, reflection, and celebrating the individual’s legacy.

With thoughtful elements like readings, music, and eulogies, along with an officiant who can lead a secular service, a civil funeral can provide comfort, closure, and a fitting farewell for family and friends.