Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer might have been the most famous example of attending your own funeral, but the concept has become a well-known TV cliché used to teach a character some important lesson.
It turns out that it might not be a bad idea. The idea of attending your own funeral — in one way or another — is starting to take off. And there are some people out there who claim it’s a good thing.
Faux Funerals and Depression
In South Korea, the Hyowon Healing Center is trying to combat the unusually high suicide rate. South Korea currently has the second-highest suicide rate in the world, with young people facing enormous amounts of pressure from school and work.
The healing center allows for anyone feeling depressed, stressed, or having suicidal thoughts to attend their own funeral. Many participants are sent there by doctors who recommend the alternative treatment.
The participants lay down inside a closed coffin and are asked to reflect on their life for several minutes. So far the reviews have been mixed. Some state they leave feeling empowered and happier, while others have been known to just fall asleep.
Giving Your Own Eulogy
There’s a tech company in Florida that wants to help you have the final say at your funeral by selling funeral holograms — Artistry in Motion. The hologram is recorded while a person is still alive and then played during the funeral service.
The technology is along the lines of what recreated the holographic performances of Michael Jackson or Tupac Shakur’s posthumous concerts. Per the company’s website, their goal is to “create your life’s legacy so your grandchildren, great grandchildren and beyond will remember who you are, your family’s timeless values and what family means to you.”
The Hereafter Institute is a project that started with the goal of imagining new memorial ideas and understanding death. One way they did this was to host digital funerals.
They had participants sit alone in a room where a short speech goes over the life and history of the “deceased.” Using data from social media; messages, photos, and videos are put on display and a 3D digital model is used to represent the deceased during the simulation.
In an article for Buzzfeed, Doree Shafrir talked about her experience with simulating her digital funeral. “The ‘funeral’ was the culmination of a half-hour personal tour through a series of exhibits meant to inspire reflection and conversation on our digital afterlives,” Shafrir explained.
Benefits of Attending Your Own Funeral
As it turns out, there’re some benefits to attending our fictional funerals, such as breaking the taboo topic of death in our society. It can help spark the conversation to get more people thinking about what they want from a funeral service, which leads to more meaningful services.
On top of that, by discussing funeral plans, a person might better understand the costs associated with a funeral and how to plan for it.
There’s also mental health benefits from attending your own funeral. Just as South Koreans use it to treat depression, psychologists think that attending our own funeral can give us a new perspective on life. It’s a form of immersive therapy known as psychodrama.
In an article for Psychology Today, Professor Marvin Knittels explains that he stages peoples’ fake funerals to help them, “find meaning to life.”
What are your thoughts? Would you want to “attend” your funeral? Share with us in the comments below!