Phrases To Avoid Using When You Attend An Atheist's Funeral
When you offer your sympathy to the family members of someone who has passed, it's easy to fall into the habit of using phrases that are commonly used by funeral services attendees. It's worthwhile, however, to carefully consider the life of the person who has passed away; in doing so, you may find that saying certain things — even if you say them with good intentions — may not be helpful. If you attend the funeral of an atheist who had an atheist family, this position may be evident during the ceremony. For example, there may be no mentions of religion. It's important to be respectful at this time, so you'll want to avoid saying the following common phrases.
"My Prayers Are With You"
Telling the grieving family members that your prayers are with them is a common sentiment, and one that certainly means well. However, if you're expressing this sentiment to a family that is atheist, the words might not have the impact that you intend them to have. It's not as though the family will get upset with you, but someone may feel as though your words aren't being very sensitive. Instead, say that your thoughts are with the family at this challenging time. If you wish to pray for the family, you can do so yourself — but without telling the family.
"He/She Is In Heaven"
If you believe that people go to heaven upon their passing, you might find this belief to be highly comforting during a difficult time. It's only natural to want to offer this sentiment to the deceased's family members as a way of consoling them. However, this is the type of message that you don't want to express at an atheist funeral because the grieving family members don't share the same beliefs as you. Instead of saying that the loved one is in heaven, think of something else to say. If the person was ill for a long time, you might express relief that he or she isn't suffering anymore.
"It's Too Bad He/She Didn't Find Religion"
While someone might not say the above statement word for word, it might be tempting to express regret that the atheist didn't join a religion before passing away. While you might feel sadness about this fact, sharing it with the family of the deceased will come off as highly insensitive. At this difficult time, it's best to focus on saying that you'll be there for the family, as well as offering a happy memory or two of the deceased.
If you have specific questions about different services or ways to express gratitude to the family and deceased, talk with funeral directors at a funeral home like Fletcher Funeral Home PA.