The Freedom From Religion Foundation has put together a few helpful resources in the sad event you have to speak at the funeral of an atheist. (Or if you’re proactive and want certain things to be said about you at your funeral.)
During the tribute or memorial portrait, a family member or a chosen speaker remembers the person who has died. This talk can incorporate personal anecdotes, achievements; whatever it is that best describes this person. Audience members can be invited to share memories.
You may wish to point out the skeptical views of the person being remembered. For example: _________ did not believe in life after death; __________ believed in life before death. But _______ does live on in a natural sense, in the memories of those who remain, ________’s children and grandchildren [if applicable], and in __________’s accomplishments. (This leads to the memorial portrait or tribute).
Most freethinkers craft their own unique program. A friendly colleague or family friend may officiate. Families personalize the event with picture boards or other memorial displays. Don’t be afraid to be different. Even a favorite recipe of a good cook — brownies! etc., — can be distributed (or served). Talented friends or family can be included in the program. Songs, music, poems or sayings personal to the deceased can be featured. Many memorials provoke as much laughter as tears. Music can begin and end the event, and be interspersed throughout.
Note: If religious relatives are involved, you may wish to include a “moment of reflection” somewhere during the program to keep the peace. It’s up to you.
It’s something you never hope you have to use… but if you do, there you go.
Are there other resources you know of to use during funerals of atheists?