What is a celebration of life before death?


Living wakes / Living funeral

This is not goodbye, my darling, this is a thank you. Thank you for coming into my life and giving me joy.

~ Nicholas Sparks

If you know the end is near maybe you want to have a send-off gathering to say farewell to your family and friends to celebrate your life through arranging a living wake / living funeral.

For some people, this may not be enjoyable, however through my own mother’s end of life journey we held a living wake / living funeral. It was so enjoyable for my mother and all of those that loved her dearly. We dressed in our elegant attire and jewellery. The fine china that my mother so treasured was arranged on her favourite linen and exquisite crafted cakes were shared. It gave my mother an opportunity to share her love of fine china and who would carry on her fine china legacy. But mostly, it gave us time to enjoy our mother.

When I read the book Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, Life’s Greatest Lessons by Mitch Albom, was another time that I came across the concept of a living wake / living funeral. In the book Morrie attends a colleagues funeral and feels depressed that the deceased never get the opportunity to hear the good things said about them at their funerals. Thus, he decides to hold a living funeral for himself, which is a great success. One woman reads a poem about a “tender sequoia” that moves Morrie to tears.

A good ritual can shatter isolation

The ritual of the living wake / living funeral is a celebration of life and it is a time people come together and to celebrate your achievements and life. Because, people can feel isolated knowing death is approaching, a life celebration can help with the emotions at this inevitable part of life.

There are some things to consider for a living wake / living funeral celebration:

  • Where do you want this celebration of your life? It can be any place that represents you.
  • What kind of theme will best evoke you religious or self –themed?
  • What kind of music do you want played?
  • Who do you want to give your eulogy? Or do you want it to be an open-mic ceremony?
  • What flowers do you want to be displayed?
  • What holy book readings or inspirational poems would you like read?
  • Do you want an end-of-life doula to assist in organising your party?

A living wake is about spending time connecting with the people whom you’ve shared your life with. This life celebration can truly be a magically uplifting and life-affirming way to look dying and death squarely in the eye and let it bring you to a new appreciation for living. It may be important to you and your family’s psychological state.

Living wake goal

The goal of living wakes is to celebrate life, rather than mourning death, celebrate your life while you’re still around to bask in the warmth of the camaraderie and love of family and friends.

Usually, different music is played along with an all around happier atmosphere. The goal is for this to be happy, to celebrate a life and to give thanks to everyone attending. During a living wake, families and friends will share stories and memories of the person who is nearing death. This ceremony is often a very happy event where there can be closure. The soon-to-be-deceased person often speaks about their life and who has affected it. Many people want to be able to show their appreciation through the living funeral. Friends and family of the person hosting the funeral will say things that they would have said at a normal funeral. Except now their loved one is there to hear it.

Remember Me

Enjoy life

I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one.

I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles
when life is done.

I’d like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,

Of happy times
and bright and sunny days.

I’d like the tears of those who grieve
to dry before the sun;

Of happy memories that I leave
when life is done.”

~ Helen


Jenny Wren

About the author

Jenny Wren (Sita Simran) is a Teacher & Founder of Jenny Wren Wellness and an End-of-Life Doula | Funeral Celebrant based in Brisbane, QLD Australia. She is a certified Member of The International Institute of Complementary Therapies and a qualified EOL Doula, Funeral Celebrant and Kundalini Yoga & Meditation teacher.

If you have any questions or require assistance with your general health and wellbeing, speak to me. Online consultations and training available.

P.S.:  I’d love it if you could tell your family and friends about me. I’d much appreciate your support in spreading the word about how I can enhance people’s lives.