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Living Wakes

An alternative approach

Be the star of your last hurrah

A living wake is an alternative and positive approach to funerals.

Why do we wait until the end to share our stories and communicate our feelings to the ones we love? Imagine if we could say it all beforehand from the comfort of our favourite place and make memories that last forever.

At a living wake we are saying goodbye to the solemn, uninspiring ceremonies and instead, we gather our people, share our stories and celebrate life now.

Living wakes enable you to create new memories, reminisce on the old and start processing grief and preserve your life story as a legacy.

A celebration of life for all to enjoy, which is more about life than death.

The UK’s First
Living Wake Celebrant
Jess May,  Celebrant


Are you feeling like this about the ‘D’ word?

It’s never easy receiving life-changing news, but it’s even harder knowing you need to make plans for a funeral with little time to process.

If you or someone you love is facing this ultimatum, you may feel that the only option is a funeral service, which isn’t what you want.

Even if you’re not in this situation, as we grow older, our memories and cherished moments can begin to fade away.

Imagine if…

You could gather all of your favourite people in a place of your choice, eat, drink, tell your stories and record your life story for future generations to enjoy.

Instead of more fear, trepidation and anxiety, you can look forward to gathering your loved ones and sharing in a safe, happy place everything that makes you, you.

Your life becomes a celebrated moment, immortalised in this special moment for all to cherish and reside in a lovingly made keepsake.

“It really was the most perfect day. My friend chose Jess herself knowing she was end of life so Jess got to meet her. She is perfect for the job!”

– Sarah


Celebrate the good and tell the real stories

If these words resonate with you, then celebrating life in the form of a living wake is for you. You can celebrate the good times and tell the real, beautiful and honest stories of your loved one.

We want to escape the norm and rid ourselves of the gloomy, drab, cold building. We want to share a lovingly crafted tale about the one we love rather than a soulless eulogy which cloaks the character and life we choose to celebrate. These are joyous, truthful occasions brimming with colour and shine.

The best part? Nobody misses out, not even the person we are celebrating. Through my highly skilled and empathetic approach, I can facilitate and enable you to navigate a difficult time in your lives and carry your grief as a group.

It is becoming commonplace now that societal opinions and feelings towards the conventional funeral are becoming less and less favourable. But when a funeral isn’t for you, it can feel even more uncomfortable having no known alternative.

Sound familiar? Then, a living wake is precisely what you’ve been searching for. A living wake is a chance to celebrate the good things the good times, and tell the real stories of the person you’ve lost. A celebration of life can be a no-fuss funeral, a low-cost funeral or an alternative funeral in any location.

A guided process with a fully accredited double award-winning Funeral Celebrant with over a decade of experience.




The Outline

The first stage allows us to get to know each other. This can be done in person or via a phone/video call.

This is where I can answer your questions and share my experiences to help guide the process.

This is where we generate our outline of the Living Wake. We discuss your person’s life, work out your wants and needs and begin to build the story.

Any questions or concerns about who is involved, what is involved as well as any unique ideas can be included.


The Living Wake

The day has arrived… Because of our careful planning, your special occasion will be personal and joyful.

The technical set up will be done, the venue ready and after a brief regroup, any last minute details will be finalised.

Then as we start to welcome your guests your celebration will begin. I will be on hand to support you fully during the celebration.

Memories and contributions from your guests will take place and everything will be captured on video and in note format.


The Keepsake

This is the chance to have a physical story and memory of the beautiful life lived,  captured and remembered.

This beautifully written heartfelt story is there for you and your family to keep and cherish forever.

The Keepsake can be used at a later date for a Celebration of Life, and there are no limits to how many copies you may wish to take.

Footage from the day itself will be shared with you and can also be made into an edited, finalised video.

What is a Living Wake?

Is it the same as a Living Funeral?

Living wakes are a relatively new concept, here in the UK. Living wakes are an alternative to funerals but also create resources for funerals at a later date.

Whereas a living funeral is attending one’s own funeral ceremony.

A living wake involves a bit of ceremony but can be whatever you want them to be.

It is a more informal occasion where you gather all of your favourite people on a shared journey of memories and connection and then take away the golden nuggets of life and record your story in a keepsake book.

Woman surrounded by colourful flowers

CREDIT: Annie Werner, whose terminal breast cancer has metastasised to her liver and bones, held a living wake on the New South Wales south coast, near Bega. Photograph: Jay Black. Article: The Guardian.

What is a Living Wake?

Two men hugging

More client love

Made a sad, difficult time a bit easier…

“Jess was kind, intelligent, compassionate and interested in our family. She was very supportive and caring and really made a sad, difficult time a bit easier. Very grateful to her.”

– Nancy

It was one of the most wonderful days

“Jess is the most amazing human and even more amazing celebrant.

Jess delivered my friend’s woodland burial at Westall Park, and although it was a truly sad occasion it was one of the most wonderful days. Sincere, bright, well-composed and appropriately humorous.

It went way beyond anything I was expecting. If you’re reading this you already know you’re going to book her. She’s amazing. Do it. “

– Sarah

Memories are in the forefront of our thoughts

“She took us back to our childhood, bringing back happy memories that had been forgotten over the years. This really helped us through the sad, heart-wrenching time we had with him in the months leading up to his passing. I’m happy to say that those childhood memories are now in the forefront of our thoughts and for this I can’t thank Jess enough. She is amazing 🤩.”

– Amanda

Truly an amazing spirit

“Thank you again from the bottom of my heart you truly are an amazing spirit and I felt it flow through me when you took my hands in yours xx”

– Margaret

Jess enabled a joyous celebration…

“Jess was the best celebrant – funerals are never fun, but Jess enabled a joyous celebration of a life very well lived and very much loved – thank you”

– Fiona

Jess met my sister and arranged her celebration

“Jess is an exceptional celebrant. I was lucky that Jess met my sister and arranged her celebration of life before she died. As Jess spoke you could tell the amount of time she had spoken with my sister and her friends so it was such a personal tribute. Jess spent so much time preparing, making sure that the day ran perfectly, you could feel her passion for her job. Jess is a beautiful person, who did a beautiful service for a beautiful day.”

– Jane

My Mission Around Living Wakes

I’m jess celebrant i do living wakes

Working with funeral directors who are gatekeepers and dictate how long a celebrant has to deliver a eulogy (and how much to be paid) has been tough.

As a funeral professional with xx years of experience and knowledge I empathise that funerals, as important as they are, are tricky events.

And as a human being who has suffered loss, this is the problem as I see it… 20 minutes to summarise a life (however old the person) isn’t enough.

Jess May screaming with excitement into the camera.
People often don’t remember funerals into the future, what was said etc and just go through the motions and often dread it.

Some people may reflect on funerals and feel it didn’t do justice to their loved one and have regret.

Family politics, disagreements and other dynamics affect things.

This leaves a gap, a disconnect or an expectation that doesn’t feel right in a lot of cases.

Something aimed at people who have more a sense of being nearer the end of their life than the beginning.

Contact me to discuss a Living Wake you are arranging

Frequently Asked Questions

How will i approach this with the people I love?
This is a new way of approaching death. It could be a tricky topic. But they will want you to have what you want. That is important to remember. It is also a good idea to ask someone to be with you when you propose it. You can also be careful about how you introduce it. Perhaps you could refer to it as a ‘party’ or a ‘get together’.
Where can I have a Living Wake?
Won't it feel weird?
Is it like attending your own funeral?
Isn't this something we could just do by ourselves?
Can you make it so that I'm not 'centre of attention', I don't like the limelight.