More and more people are attending their own funeral.
This may sound like a strange statement to make (and read), but this is something which is becoming more and more popular.
It’s a hard concept to understand perhaps, because considering our own mortality (or a loved ones) is not the easiest thing to do; let alone planning and then attending our own funeral. It’s fair to say being able to attend your own funeral is not something that happens every day.
More people are starting to move away from ‘traditional’ and ‘religious funeral ceremonies’ and more towards the unconventional. When we use the word ‘unconventional’ we are referring to living funerals and ceremonies such humanist funerals.
Humanist funerals can be held in places which are considered ‘unconventional’, such as in a park, woods, on beaches, or a sports ground even.
What is a “Living Funeral”?
Most living funerals have the same aspects of a normal funeral ceremony (the deceased person aside). A living funeral gives families and friends the chance to share stories and memories of the person, with the person. This ceremony is often a very happy event where life is honoured and celebrated.
Living funerals are already commonplace in the United States and Japan. And now, more people in the UK are also holding funeral services in which the soon-to-be deceased person speaks and shares memories about their life and who has affected it.
Living funerals typically tend to take place towards the end of a person’s life. When someone has a terminal illness for example, some families like to honour that person while they are still well enough to do so.
Think of an episode of the TV programme ‘This is Your Life’. Those people who are involved in someone’s life can pay homage and honour them while they are alive; with the persons funeral it is, able to participate, too.
We’ve heard of grandchildren making up memory boxes, including all the things they associate with their grandparent (for example) and celebrating their influence. Items such as precious photos, ornaments, drawings and items of clothing or jewellery are collected together by the children; where they can express what their love and gratitude towards a person. This can help in the grieving the stages, providing a comfort.
“Living Funerals” are helping to open up the conversation about death, pushing for the topic to be more ‘acceptable’ to discuss with family and friends. Talking about ‘death’ is something widely documented about, and how we don’t seem to be very good at it. Documenting what we would like, in our honour, actually helps our loved ones and eases the stress.
‘Death’ and ‘dying’ are not topics we are particularly good at discussing. For some reason, despite none of us escaping it, we avoid talking about death at all costs.
‘Preparing for death can help both those passing on and those they leave behind to embrace the life that has been lived’
Have you or someone close to you been involved in a living funeral?
Have you held a living funeral for yourself?
What do you think about living funerals?