When we think about funerals, most don’t consider paying tribute to someone who is still alive. But at Bare, we do death differently. We recently hosted a living funeral for our co-founder Cale Donovan - whom we are glad is still very much alive.

Not many people can say they were late to their own funeral, but Cale can now tick that off his bucket list.

“I want to go to more of these things. I had fun!” said Bare’s pre-paid manager, Alicia. Now that’s not something you’d expect to hear after attending a funeral service for a deceased person.

What is a living funeral?

With a living funeral, or living wake, death is not a prerequisite. A living funeral is a gathering of loved ones to celebrates a person’s life before they have died.

Rather than waiting until after the person is no longer with us, a living funeral allows the guest of honour to be present to celebrate their life’s achievements and hear the lovely things family and friends have to say about them.

Often a living funeral is held when a person has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, is experiencing a rapid decline. But there are really no rules about when to have one, or in what form a living memorial should take.

A photo of Bare co-founder Cale with his wife and dog, shown during his living funeral.
A photo of Bare co-founder Cale with his wife and dog, shown during his living funeral.

Cale’s living funeral: a humbling journey

Cale’s living funeral was a humbling and uplifting celebration of his life. The online memorial service was led by our head arranger Daphney Adams, a funeral director and celebrant who has officiated dozens of funerals over the years.

Daphney is currently completing her Masters of History, so her passion for life writing and legacy storytelling really shone in Cale’s tribute.

Rather than a sombre ceremony, Cale’s living funeral was more akin to an episode of This is Your Life. It was an uplifting tribute to the doting dad and husband, entrepreneur, loyal friend, inspiring boss, and general larrikin.

We were taken on a humbling journey of Cale’s 38 years of life, complete with heart-warming photos, funny anecdotes and uplifting stories of achievements and misadventure.

“You’ve lived a good life. We’re glad it’s continuing,” said Bare co-founder and life-long mate Sam McConkey, who led a virtual tribute and toast.

We also heard video tributes from colleagues and friends who shared how Cale’s legacy has already made an impact on their lives.

Virtual funerals can still capture emotion

Despite attending the living funeral virtually, though Zoom, the tribute was received with emotion, reverence and joy, even though we were not physically present in the same room.

“For a second there, I was getting really emotional,” said Bare pre-paid team member Deanna.

“I thought we were at a real memorial. Daphney was doing so well. It wouldn’t have felt much different to what I would have felt at an attended memorial,” she added.

Cale's living funeral celebrated his achievements and legacy to date.
Cale's living funeral celebrated his achievements and legacy to date.

Being present at his own tribute was an emotional and humbling experience, Cale said.

“I tried to hold it together on a number of occasions. All of those messages, they got me laughing, and in some cases, they got me crying as well. I certainly rode that rollercoaster," he said.

“It makes me feel a million bucks! I feel super lucky and happy that people would contribute to this. I’m going to walk on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day.

“If my experience is anything to go by, [a living funeral] it’s a bloody awesome one. And I’ve lived a short one. So if you’ve accrued 70 or 80 years and have a much more interesting life than I had, it’s going to be awesome to sit in on that,” Cale said.

Daphney led the celebration of life on behalf of our soon-to-be-launched Bare Online Memorials service. The online memorial service will allow communities to gather virtually and support each other to celebrate and honour the lives of loved ones.

“Helping families navigate the experience of losing a loved one is something I feel so honoured to do,” Daphney said.

“My passion lies in recognising the intrinsic value of everyone’s life and contribution to the world.”To learn more about Bare Memorials, visit the website here or give us a call on 1800 071 176.