Seven years ago when a friend was diagnosed with a terminal illness, I was privileged enough to help the family organise his end of life celebration party. It was his words after the party which inspired me to create Taylored Moments . . . making memories.
It can be a remarkable occasion to give as a parting gift to a loved one and leave behind such extraordinary memories in the minds of everyone.
These days people have grown more comfortable talking about death and dying, and as we do, we open the door for other types of ceremonies and rituals. A living funeral can be described as a grand celebration for a person with a life-limiting illness, celebrating their life while they are still alive. They may have a terminal illness, a degenerative or progressive condition, and often such illnesses can isolate people from their usual social contact and rob them of their independence.
Friends can often feel uncomfortable when visiting and struggle to find the right words, so this sort of gathering or celebration whether it be a picnic, dinner party, a pamper party, a big celebration or whatever, it allows for people to bring along not only stories, but any photos and mementos, music and food. You may like to video it so the "guest of honour" can watch it again before their mind or body deteriorates. This is a special time to express love, gratitude and those things we “should've, would've or could've” said if only we found the time. This is “their time’” when their life is shared through the cherished lens of others rather than after they have gone.
The whole experience can be a positive and uplifting in a way they never thought possible at this stage of life. These celebrations help families and friends prepare for the inevitable and form a bond while focusing on life when they often feel helpless in the face of death. It is not talking about death but rather life. Living funerals are still reasonably uncommon here, and talking about this can sometimes make people feel uncomfortable, sceptical and for many this may seem like a strange idea. Yet a gathering to eulogise and celebrate one's life before he or she passes can be the complete opposite, and often people don't learn the most interesting attributes and experiences about a person's life until their funeral. How many times have you attended a funeral and thought “I wish the person could be here now to see what a great send-off they were given”.
A “living funeral” does not replace a traditional funeral it never should and it never will. It does take a special person to pull this off, and for the next of kin to support the idea and respect the dying person's wishes.
So how do you know when it is the “right time”? We don't. So long as the guest of honour is healthy enough both physically and mentally to enjoy it.... WHY WAIT