Chapter

Living Funeral: Celebrating the End of Life

Denise Carson

in Parting Ways

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780520251083
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520949416 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520251083.003.0003
Living Funeral: Celebrating the End of Life

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In this chapter, the author describes the story of one old couple—Marty and Zella Geltman of West Orange, New Jersey—whom she met in her search for families participating in rituals that celebrate the end of life. It explains the way that couple, who were in their sixties, chose to celebrate the end of their life, which is called living funeral. Early forms of living funerals were called sendoffs. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, sendoffs were known as a ceremony of the death in bed, in which the dying person presides over a crowd of friends and relatives. The dying person says his or her last words, sometimes dramatized by long-winded speeches to pass on wisdom to the next generation. However, the tradition disappeared in the early 1900s, when the place of death moved from the home to the hospital.

Keywords: living funeral; end of life; sendoffs; death; ritual

Chapter.  9879 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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