Should You Hold A Living Funeral For Anyone? 您应该为任何人举办生前葬礼吗?

an elderly woman leaning on a man s shoulder near a wooden coffin
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Leave the world a better place
and as a better person —

for the best place
to be the best person.

— Stonepeace


In contrast to a usual funeral, which is held after one dies, a living funeral is for gathering loved ones to share memories and express feelings in advance. This might seem like a good idea, but there are various considerations to contemplate before holding one. Especially if held when dying soon…

Attachment And Aversion

Will many good memories and feelings shared lead to much attachment to life? Will many bad memories and feelings shared lead to much aversion to those present? If uncertain, is it better to inform of impending death and let others express concern naturally, if they wish? (While a living funeral might save time, it can create more heartbreak quickly too.)


Will wishful-thinking spoken, on hope that there will be more time cause greater despair and reluctance to part? Will the bittersweet celebration of life definitely lead to a good departure? What if there is attachment to the celebration instead of satisfaction, unwillingness to let it go when life is ending? Is celebration when not departing better? Is celebration of life better after a good departure?


Gentle hugging is still ‘alright’ for those dying, who might have some physical pain due to sickness. If hugging on the deathbed or after death, with the consciousness still intact, there will be much greater (magnified) pain and thus aversion. Hugging should thus be done before being on the deathbed.


Some crying now is likewise still ‘alright.’ If crying on the deathbed or after death, with the consciousness still around, there might be great sorrow due to attachment (and maybe aversion). Crying should thus be done before being on the deathbed. But do crying friends missing the dying in advance help the dying? Does seeing others’ pain expressed ease that of the dying?


Is it good to be (overly) sentimental? If others might not be as sentimental as the dying, does it make sense to have a living funeral? Will some feel obliged to come and share? If so, will that shared be genuine enough? Will it be awkward and/or moving?


Timely expression of apologies and gratitude is good, but it should be two-way too, for well-roundedness. If there is that yet to be resolved for closure, it should be resolved quickly, by saying what should be said, and doing what should be done. There should not be blaming, lest ill feelings fester till death.


How honest can spoken words in terms of eulogies at a living funeral be? What if there is too much or too little honesty? Is there danger of opening Pandora boxes, inviting too many to say what might further the three poisons (of attachment, aversion and delusion)? Is using of cards and letters to one another, if more mindfully and thoughtfully penned more skilful, though the tone cannot be heard?

Best Time

The best time is now. Not when actively dying. Now — when there is time to make amends, change and let go in time. Death is a mirror in which the meaning of life is reflected. Death urges us to pay attention to our limited lives, to priotitise, take bearings and progress spiritually. Plan your epitaph, write and say your ‘last’ words, say your eulogies to one another. Apologise and thank before it is too late.


A living funeral is good only if it facilitates letting go in time. Will there be more or less of the three poisons, of greed to live on (贪生), fear of death (怕死) and confusion about dying, death and rebirth (迷惑)? The point of a living funeral is to have no regrets by the end, not to have more. If there is no place more joyfully sought, there will be that reluctant to part from. (没有更欣求之处,必有舍不得之处。)

What Next?

For Buddhists, the best destination hereafter to jofyfully seek is Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土), where there will be no more suffering from birth, ageing, sickness and death (生老病死), while progressing swiftly towards Buddhahood. We must have enough of the Three Provisions (三资粮) of Faith (信), Aspiration (愿) and Practice (行) in time for the Pure Land to be reached too.

Guidance And Support-Chanting

When it is really near the time to depart, there should be ample offering of guidance (开示) and support-chanting (助念) to send off the dying well, for the most bissful rebirth in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land. To truly see all loved ones in and out of it, the Pure Land should be reached. A living funeral is not a must.

Because everything changes
from moment to moment,
we should treasure everything
in this moment.

Because everything changes
from moment to moment,
we should not be attached to anything
in this moment.

— Stonepeace

Related Teachings:

The Three Provisions

Chanting Whe Dying, After Death, During & After Wakes

The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.