Direct Cremate

Would You Have a Living Funeral?

Would you rather have your own funeral while you’re living or have one after death? Find out what a living funeral is and why more people are having them.
Would You Have a Living Funeral?
Two senior couple celebrating their friendship and drinking champagne at home

If you’ve ever seen the movie Empire Records you may remember the scene where they hold a mock funeral for the character Debra after finding out she tried to kill herself. It was an early version of a living funeral. In the movie it was meant to help Debra understand how she would be missed if she died so that she didn’t attempt suicide again. Today, people are choosing to have a living funeral for very different reasons. 

What is a Living Funeral?

In the most simplest terms, a living funeral is a funeral service in which the person being remembered is still alive. It’s a memorial prior to death. Living funerals also go by the name pre-funeral, living tribute and living wake. 

The focus is on providing support to that person rather than the family who has just lost a loved one. People who attend usually express their love and gratitude directly to the honoree, which isn’t possible with a traditional funeral. 

The idea of living funerals began in the 1990s, but it isn’t attributed to Empire Records in 1995. Instead, the Japanese are considered the first to make living funerals a thing. Around that same time in Japan some elderly began opting for seizensō. Seizensō is a living funeral that the elder arranged themselves to take the burden of funeral planning off their children and grandchildren.

Why More People Are Planning Living Funerals

The top reason why living funerals are becoming common is because people want more control over their own funeral. Typically, a funeral after the person’s death is more for the surviving family members. They are the ones that plan the funeral services and experience the support from others. Sometimes the wishes of the deceased aren’t respected if they aren’t expressly stated in writing. 

With a living funeral the person being honored is making the decisions for themselves. They know that the remembrance will be what they want it to be, done in the way that they want it done.

For families, a living funeral has benefits compared to the traditional after-death funeral. For starters, they don’t have to do funeral planning at a time when they are emotionally distraught. They are free to do direct cremation or green burial without funeral services because the living funeral has already happened. The family can take their time planning a post-cremation or burial memorial if they want. 

The family also doesn’t have to worry about covering the cost of expensive funeral home services. A living funeral can be held anywhere, including the person’s home. When the person is deceased, funeral services are limited in where they can take place. That’s part of the reason why funeral home services are so expensive. 

Many people also appreciate that living funerals aren’t as somber and grim as traditional funeral services. It’s more of a celebration of a life coming to an end rather than a sad reminder that a life has ended. 

When Do People Have Living Funerals

Technically, a living funeral can happen at any point in a person’s life. But most people who have them do so when they have a terminal illness, are worried they could die or are elderly. 

It could be that a person is making advance funeral arrangements just as a part of writing a last will and testament. As they are researching options they could come across the concept of living memorials and decide to make that part of the arrangements.

If you plan to have a living funeral then direct cremation our team can help you make the advance arrangements. We can be reached by phone or text 24 hours a day.