Hosting a Celebration of Life – Before Death

A new generation has started reaching retirement age and beyond, but the Baby Boomers who came of age in the tumultuous 60s aren’t likely to leave their final plans to their children – and in the face of a terminal illness may even want to attend their own celebration of life.  This was the case recently for a much-loved South Huron, Ontario resident who decided to throw his own funeral party while he could still enjoy seeing old friends and family. 

According to a recent London Free Press article, when Ron Rader, 67, learned his pancreatic cancer had spread and was inoperable, he told his family he was going to throw a party.   More than 350 people attended the “living funeral” held at his home, and he was able to enjoy his own send-off with many long-time friends and extended family.  Local funeral home director Colin Haskett helped make the arrangements – a first for the family-operated business. 

Rader also wanted to see the beach he loved the following day and was able to visit Lake Huron one last time before his peaceful death eight days later.  As a man known for his unique approach to life, attending his own final goodbye and sharing a last opportunity for laughter, and tears, seemed befitting. 

Non-traditional funerals have become more common in recent years, and many families try to focus on the celebration of a life well lived rather than loss and sadness.   Many older adults make advanced end-of-life plans that reflect their individual values and personalities.  As the entire funeral industry begins to shift and move away from traditional services, Boomers and Gen X’ers planning their parents’ and eventually their own funerals are opting for more personalized farewells, including pre-funerals.  

More people are also considering the environmental impact of funeral practices, as well as finances in their end-of-life planning.  For those who are not religious, arrangements may include spending time with loved ones, sharing memories and music, and of course good food and beverages.  This approach can also lift the burden of funeral planning and costs for remaining loved ones.   

Learn more about planning a living funeral by following this link to a recent Funeral Trends post.