How many times have you attended a funeral and thought; “I wish I could have seen you one last time” or “there are so many things I wish I’d said”? Well, that might change as the latest trend in mourning culture means you could be attending a loved one’s ceremony before they have passed away.
Living funerals are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, but one that is gaining popularity particularly in cases of terminal illness. Already a common concept in the US , Japan and South Korea, a living funeral gives family and friends the chance to say goodbye to their loved one before it’s too late.
After arranging a celebration for a family friend who received a terminal diagnosis, Georgia Martin realised she could help others and started her own business offering this new type of celebration.
“In a culture where death is still a tricky subject to discuss, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy concept to introduce in the UK. But having experienced the joy of Sheila’s ‘beautiful goodbye’ – both planning and hosting it – I was determined to give it my best shot.”
While it’s clear to see why those who are close to the end may want to celebrate their life surrounded by those they have shared it with, there’s also been an increase in people organising such ceremonies as a chance to come to terms with their own mortality and hear what others have to say.
David Williamson, the Spiritual Care Lead at St Leonards Hospice in York, is also planning on introducing living funerals later this year.
“I’ve always been amazed at the tributes that friends and relatives give to the person who’s died, and I often ask them, ‘Did you ever say that to the person when they were alive?’. Quite often they’ll say no, so I’ve always wondered if there is a better way that we can express what we think and feel about people when they are alive?”
Living funerals are a fairly new concept without any religious ties, meaning there’s no set structure to follow when organising one for yourself or a loved one. You can go with a similar formula to a traditional funeral by having flowers and a eulogy. Or, you could organise something totally unique, from an afternoon tea to a dancefloor disco. A living funeral doesn’t have to be a morbid affair – in fact for many they are seen as a way to celebrate life.
Living wakes have also been credited with helping people open up and talk about death in a society where it has been a taboo subject for many years. While other cultures see death as a way to celebrate life, here in the UK we tend to be quite reserved about the subject – an attitude that dates back to Victorian times when widows would be expected to dress in black for years and wear special ‘mourning jewellery’.
At Pure Cremation we offer what is known as a direct cremation service; it’s basically a no-frills, low-cost cremation that gives you flexibility in your funeral arrangements. We collect the deceased, transport them to our own facilities at Charlton Park Crematorium near Andover, where we cremate them before hand-delivering the ashes to you in a biodegradable container. It’s an informal choice that doesn’t involve any ceremony, costing around 60% less than the average funeral whilst delivering high quality care every step of the way.
If you’re considering arranging a living funeral for yourself or a loved one, a direct cremation could fit in well with your plans. You can sign up for a direct cremation plan at any time, so you have the peace of mind that everything is taken care of when the time comes. Find out more about our funeral plans on our website or request a free guide today.
For more information about our services, you can call our expert care team today on 0800 470 2386.