A living wake is a chance to honour a loved one before they have died.
FUNERAL PLANNING

What is a living wake? How to plan a life celebration

mel-mono
  • Mel Buttigieg
  • Writer, Bare
  • February 25, 2021
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We would be honoured to support you in planning a befitting memorial ceremony – whether that’s entirely family-led, or with our dedicated celebrant team. Click below to find out more.

Have you ever been to a funeral and thought, “it’s a shame Uncle Mick doesn’t get to hear all of the lovely things they’re saying about him”? 

A living wake is a chance to honour a loved one while they are still here to enjoy the party.

Our prepaid customers often tell us there is no point spending a fortune on a funeral with all the bells and whistles, when they won’t be there to see it. But attending your own wake means you have the chance to listen to and appreciate the stories being told about you. That way, you are present to hear the eulogies and tributes and understand the impact you have made to your friends and family.

So why wait until you’re dead to gather your nearest and dearest to sing your praises?

What is a living wake?

A ‘living wake’, ‘life celebration’, ‘last chapter celebration’, ‘pre-wake wake’ or ‘fabulous going away party’. Whatever you call it: it’s time to roll out the red carpet and enjoy the grandest celebration of your life.

A living wake is generally the same type of ceremony as a traditional wake or funeral, except it happens before the person has died. It’s a chance for a community of friends and family to come together and tell a loved one the impact they have made on their lives, while they are still here to hear it.

Milestone birthdays are conventional versions of living wakes, where huge celebrations are held in a person’s honour when they turn 50, 60, 70, 80 – or even 90 and 100 if they make it that far! But more and more people are being open to the idea of living wakes to gather their loved ones to commemorate the final chapter of their lives, particularly if they are getting on in years or if they have received a terminal diagnosis.

When a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the reality of their mortality can make them feel only half-human. A terminal diagnosis can leave a person feeling lost and vulnerable. In contrast, a celebration in their honour can be a way to help a dying person find renewal as they hear how their life has inspired others.

Milestone birthdays, like 85 years, are conventional versions of living wakes.
Milestone birthdays are conventional versions of living wakes.

Can you have a funeral before you die?

The word ‘funeral’ tends to put people off celebrating their lives before their die, because it can feel as though they are digging their own grave too soon.

But people are often curious to think what it would be like to attend their own funeral. A living wake is the closest thing – except there is no casket or dead body. And the vibe tends to be more celebratory, rather than sombre.

How do you plan a living wake?

In the same way that funerals don’t need to follow a traditional formula, a living wake can take many forms. It can be as formal or as informal as you like. Perhaps the event feels more akin to a birthday party, with food, dancing, drinks and cake. Or maybe it’s more of a roast than a toast that takes your fancy. Whatever you decide, it’s a chance to make the celebration as personalised as you wish.

Where to host a living wake

Just like planning a wake or memorial for a deceased person, living wakes can be held at home, a RSL club or community centre, a favourite restaurant, or a public place like a beach or park with a fabulously decorated marquee. We’ve even heard of a living wake held on a party boat.

If budget allows, why not plan a wedding-scale party at a reception venue or formal function centre? You might even prefer to spend big on the living wake and instruct your family to plan a low-cost funeral with a provider like Bare Cremation.

We would be honoured to support you in planning a befitting living wake or memorial ceremony – whether that’s entirely family-led, or with our dedicated celebrant team. To learn more about Bare Memorials or to arrange a cremation, click the below button or call 1800 071 176.

Who to invite to a living wake?

We often hear people say “if you didn’t give me the time of day while I was still alive, don’t bother coming to my funeral!” So a living wake gives you full control over the guest list. If you don’t want someone there – don’t invite them!

What do I include in a living wake?

You might wish to include funeral elements like a eulogy and tributes. Perhaps you’d like a special song, poem, reading, prayer or Bible verse. An alternative is to go around the room and give everyone the chance to tell a story about the guest of honour. After all, a living wake is a chance to tell the guest of honour what they will be remembered most for.

Depending on the guest of honour, the living wake might focus more on music, dancing and entertainment. As mentioned earlier, there are no rules with how a life should be celebrated.

It can also be helpful to position a large comfortable chair prominently for the honouree to enjoy the festivities.

Final thoughts on living wakes

A living wake is not everyone’s cup of tea, but celebration-of-life ceremonies are becoming more popular as people move away from tradition when it comes to funeral planning.

Celebrating a loved one’s achievements as they are reaching the end of their life can be a special opportunity to come together with family and friends and show them just what they mean to us while they are still here to hear it. It’s also a great opportunity to spend money living – not dying.

Rather than preparing for the end, a living wake can be an uplifting chance to look death in the eye and herald a new appreciation for living.

We would be honoured to support you in planning a befitting living wake or memorial ceremony – whether that’s entirely family-led, or with our dedicated celebrant team. To learn more about Bare Memorials or to arrange a cremation, click the below button or call 1800 071 176.

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