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Posted by: benben ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 04:45PM

So no-longer-tbm-wife's grandfather just passed, and the funeral is tomorrow (monday.) I have just been asked to give the closing prayer. There are other people who could give it if I politely decline, so that is not an issue.

However, I am a strong-agnostic, leaning atheist ex-mo. So for me, giving a prayer would be very meaningless. And I would not give the standard mormon prayer and would rather give some sort of non-religious benediction (the grandfather was not a mormon either, but many in the family are.) I think my main hold up would be how to appease people but stay true to myself. OR more precisely, how does an agnostic pray without it just being a lame collection of words?

If worse comes to worse, I am not soooo much on a high-horse that I couldn't just say a prayer to appease the grieving family and just shrug it off as offering comfort to people. I think only one or two people would take it as a sign of "oh...he wants to return to church. He gave a prayer." But I can deal with that.

My plan for the moment would be to accept with the full disclosure that it would probably be a non-religious, non-mormon benediction. And if they are fine with that, then I am too.

Anyways, what are your thoughts? Any examples of non-religious, but still respectful prayers that any of you have given? Unfortunately, I will be in funeral-arrangements mode pretty much until tomorrow morning before the funeral. but I will check back as much as I can here. Thanks everyone!

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Posted by: munchybotaz ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 04:49PM

What kind of dumbasses ask an atheist to give a prayer? Or don't they know? In that case, have fun thinking up what to say.

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Posted by: honestone ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 05:00PM

Just keep it about the deceased life here on earth and skip the hereafter. Talk about how this person served others, held family as important and lived with morals (I assume this is all true).... then talk about memories that each who knew him will cherish and fondly look back on. Keep it very simple and best wishes. It is nice they asked you.

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Posted by: Levi ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 05:05PM

I would say something to the effect of "Grandpa ___ has more KNOWLEDGE than anybody living on this earth" or something.

I'm on the same page as you are.

A friend's mother died earlier this year and as she was taking her last breath, I was thinking that in a few minutes she will KNOW the truth, one way or the other.

Personally, I think most people when they die are surprised. Especially the optimists.

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Posted by: RPackham ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 05:19PM

A prayer is (or should be) a beautiful poem. For a believer, it is addressed to God. For a non-believer, it is addressed to whoever hears it. I would be glad to give such a prayer at a funeral (I am atheist). I would say something like this:

"We, the friends and relatives of ____, now bow our heads in remembrance of the life that he led, the joys and friendships which he brought us, and the example that he set for us. We are grateful that he was part of our lives, that he enriched our experience here, and we are saddened to lose him now. May we all carry in our hearts a place for our memories of him, and remember him often with fondness and love. We now leave this place where we have gathered to celebrate his life, hoping that we will not soon have to meet again on such an occasion. Amen"

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Posted by: Diapason ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 05:39PM

BenBen said, "... So for me, giving a prayer would be very meaningless."

The prayer isn't for you, so don't sweat it. It is for those family members who are religious and asked you to offer the prayer. I would consider it an honor to be thought of highly enough that the family of the deceased would invite me to pray. To me that means they respect me and my relationship with the deceased.

Although I am not a believer, I would gladly go back and participate in a Mormon funeral service if asked. I would say a prayer, I would accompany a musical number, or play the piano or organ if asked. The funeral is all about them and their beliefs, and nothing about mine. I could respectfully contribute to a Protestant funeral, a Catholic funeral, a Native American funeral or any other type of funeral if I was asked.

Having been on the receiving end of a funeral (for my daughter) I appreciate all who participated. It meant a great deal to me. The fact that others were willing to participate showed their love and concern for me. It was a very important part of my healing. I would be happy to offer this same type of service to others if asked.

I think Richard Packham's recommendation is an excellent one.

Good luck!

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Posted by: munchybotaz ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 09:10PM

Your prayer's great for someone who isn't out, is too timid to say they don't believe in talking to invisible beings, or maybe just doesn't mind being bullied by those who do, because someone died.

Really, it's very nice. I'm thinking about filing it for possible future use, like if my brother (who's pretty traditional and not quite ready to admit there's no god) insists on something resembling a prayer when our mom dies. That is, if she hasn't put in writing that she wants some Mormified treatment with "the Biishup" officiating, in which case I'll stay home and let them talk. Oh, yes, I'm series!1!!

Your prayer should work very nicely for normal religious folks, but of course we're talking about Mormons. They'll be left unsatisfied and probably gossiping about how weird and inappropriate it was.

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Posted by: wine country girl ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 06:05PM

If this was someone you cared about, why not offer a poetic prayer of consolation to those who grieving?

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Posted by: wine country girl ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 06:06PM


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Posted by: Summer ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 10:16PM

Thank you! I just saved it to my hard drive.

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Posted by: WiserWomanNow ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 06:49PM

"Our HF, we are thankful to have known Brother ___, who touched many of our lives with his (kindness, sense of humor, common sense, or other applicable adjectives). We now release him into thy care.

"Please bless and comfort those dealing with the earthly loss of this beloved family member and friend.

"In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

This would be a simple, acceptable prayer that avoids any mention of the Church, Joseph Smith, or the BoM.

If you're not comfortable with any mention of religious figures, then let someone else give the prayer rather than upsetting the believer-family with an atheist prayer at the funeral.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 08:08PM

So it is important to keep people together and focused on the life and accomplishments of the deceased and to--at least for once, during the hour or two that it takes--feel for others and to act responsibly and respectfully. So give that kind of prayer. It need not be LDS or even particularly Christian. Give the kind that makes people feel glad they are there in the moment. It really won't be that difficult.

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Posted by: munchybotaz ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 09:50PM

Maybe if people weren't always dying.

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Posted by: anon ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 08:10PM

You could read from the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

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Posted by: mi ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 09:39PM

My father often asks me to say prayers at holiday family gatherings. I'm not sure if he genuinely forgets that I am no longer religious, or if he has an agenda. Either way, I politely decline and then wait quietly while the others pray. To me, saying a prayer feels like betraying myself and lying to everyone else. If you feel that way, too, perhaps you could express gratitude at having been asked, then politely decline and offer to say a few kind words or share a favorite poem instead.

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Posted by: Misfit ( )
Date: October 24, 2010 10:00PM

I like Packham's prayer. It isn't addressed to any kind of deity, and it meets the purpose of the funeral-to remember the deceased's life, and to comfort the mourners. Very straightforward and to the point. If I were there, I would probably shed a tear or two during that prayer.

Another comment-I used to go to scout roundtables, which were held at an LDS chapel in the area. So the chapel was filled with scout leaders who were not all LDS. I thought it was very refreshing, even when I was a TBM, to hear different kinds of prayers in an LDS chapel.

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Posted by: benben ( )
Date: October 25, 2010 12:06AM

Thanks for all your input everyone! I will have to read it a bit later tonight as we are still trying to pull things together.

Here is what ended up happening:

They came over tonight to finalize plans. And my FIL asked me (and yes, they know I don't believe, but they do not know to what extent...you know, they think the best of me and that I will come back one day, I think.)

Anyways, I took the honest and humorous path. When he asked me personally I said, "Sure! As long as you don't mind having a non-believer pray at a funeral." I said it in such a way that I think it diffused the tension. He laughed and said that he thinks his non-member dad would be fine with it! =)

I wish I had a chance to read the responses before then. I bet there are some doozies knowing this crowd! LOL!

Anyways, thanks RFM for all your continued support!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/25/2010 12:10AM by benben.

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