Living Funerals

What is a Living Funeral?

A living funeral, also known as a ‘send-off party’ or ‘pre-funeral’, is an opportunity for a person to celebrate their life, share memories, and to say goodbye to family and friends whilst they are still alive.

Many of us will have come away from a funeral thinking how much the person who has died would have loved to have seen all the people present, and to have heard how much they were loved and missed. A living funeral gives someone who is dying the chance to see the people who matter most to them and to say goodbye in their own way and in their own time.

What Does a Living Funeral Look Like?

The style and content of a living funeral is completely up to the person who is arranging it, or for whom it is being arranged.

It might be a quiet, intimate gathering for close family and friends, or a large party full of music, food and laughter. Or it could involve ticking something off an unfinished ‘bucket-list’.

Where Can a Living Funeral Take Place?

A living funeral can take place anywhere. It might be in someone’s home, at a venue such as a hotel or club, or at a meaningful location such as a favourite holiday spot.

Ideas for a Living Funeral

The most important thing is that it feels right for the person for whom it is being held and that it takes into account their health at that time. Whether it is for someone who has a terminal diagnosis, or for a person in later life who wants to celebrate whilst they are still able, try to ensure that it is sensitive to their wishes and needs.

Some possibilities are:

  • choose a venue that is right for the person and the occasion – small and intimate or large enough for lots of friends and family.
  • share and record memories – have memory cards or a book for people to fill in, or maybe through video recordings or photography.
  • give people a chance to speak – recalling important events and funny anecdotes is always lovely and can help lighten the mood. It’s also lovely to hear from people from all the different stages of their life.
  • make it as quiet and calm, or as lively as you wish – a small gathering of close friends and family, or a full-on party with music, singing and dancing.
  • if it feels right, involve all ages, from the very youngest upwards.

What do I call it?

It can be framed in whatever terms you like. It can just be a gathering or a party. Some people may feel uncomfortable with the term ‘living funeral’. The main thing is that it respects and honours the wishes of the person for whom it is being held.

How whiteballoon can help

There are some beautiful ideas for everything from venues to personal touches in our Inspiration section. If you would like to link directly to local or national providers, please visit whiteballoon Providers. Some elements in the Planning a Funeral checklist and Funeral Planning Information pages may also be helpful too.

Personalised Ideas Folder

Items and images from our Inspiration pages can be saved to a personalised Ideas Folder in our Planning Tools section. All our Planning Tools are free to use, but you will need to Register to securely save information to your folder.

This can be printed out and, if you wish, shared with family, friends or anyone else involved in organising the celebration.

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