It is, I think, quite a common view expressed during the funeral reception that it’s a shame the person whose life is being remembered wasn’t there to enjoy the company of the gathered friends, family, ex-colleagues, neighbours.
Many people have also told me that they imagine what their funeral will be like because of the people who will attend and hear the tributes, listen to the last songs and swap stories and reminiscences.
These are probably the reasons why living funerals are becoming more popular here and in the US.
When speaking to comedian Arthur Smith, by chance a neighbour of mine, about My Last Song, he told me that his brother Richard, a respected doctor, had written a blog supporting the advantages of living funerals, not the least of which is the advanced planning means far flung loved ones can attend whereas they are unlikely to make the funeral at shorter notice.
A living funeral is the logical destination of the wish to have a farewell ceremony that is a celebration of your life, rather than the traditional grief-fest.
And why not have a ‘party of a lifetime’ to celebrate your life with the people whose lives have touched your life. You can thank them, remind them of their importance to you, swap memories and stories, share your achievements and hopes and, not least, be the centre of attention.
As the founder of My Last Song, I would also emphasise the importance of selecting the music that you’ve most enjoyed, and which has special significance. The same attention should be paid to the food, the drink and the other details that will make this a party that people will never forget.
You should also organise someone to make a video of the party, or at the least take still photographs. The video and images can then be put in your Lifebox to be accessed by loved ones in future years, so that your memory, and your memorable last party, can be enjoyed many times over.
Clearly you have to take your family with you, and some of the more traditional members might disapprove. However, the advantages over and above people’s liking of a good party, include the fact that they won’t have to pay for a reception once you’ve died and also reducing the grief they might otherwise feel when faced with your demise.
After all, how much better to look back on someone’s life and remember the warmth and enjoyment of a final celebration than wish they had been able to share this once it’s too late.
Once the grim reaper has called, the party really is over.