You sit in a candlelit room while writing your eulogy and last will and testament. Dressed in your burial clothes, a quick photo is taken before you step into your casket. You lie down, softly placing your head on a small pillow. A flower is placed on your chest and you close your eyes. The lid of the casket slams shut and you lie there—not forever, but for 10-15 minutes.
Would you panic? Would you look back at your life and think about the things you wished you had done differently? Or would you simply feel cheated? Will your loved ones know how much you loved them? Would you feel angry at yourself for letting the “little things” in life bother you now that you’re suddenly faced with an untimely death?
This scenario may sound bizarre but I’m not making it up. Thousands of South Koreans have participated in these fake funerals in the last two years. Some large companies are making this grim experience a part of their employee training—sometimes it’s mandatory.
WHY FAKE YOUR OWN FUNERAL? South Korea has the highest rate of suicide in the developed world. Companies like Samsung and Hyundai hope that by sending their employees to “well-dying” seminars, they will be less likely to commit suicide.
Along with the final ritual I described above, employees go through hours of soul searching questions and exercises. Program leaders encourage participants to come up with a list of negative traits they would like to lose while they still have a chance.
Most people are immediately repulsed by the idea of these fake funerals. Nobody wants to think about dying let alone act it out. But this strange ritual got me thinking.
Does pretending to be dead make you realize how precious life really is?
We all strive to keep things in perspective. Things go wrong, we make mistakes—we’re human. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that get blown out of proportion and make us crazy. Do we have to live like this?
The way we look at life often changes when we’re faced with a life-threatening illness. When my father was diagnosed with cancer and given a few months to live, he became a different person. He showed my mom more love in the last 6 months of his life than he did the previous 45 years. Even though he was dying, he seemed to appreciate life more than he ever did when he was healthy.
So, do we have to wait until we know we’re dying to view life as something we should embrace every single day? If we have anger or hate inside of us, isn’t it time to let it go? Shouldn’t we let our friends and family know how much we love and appreciate them…just because? We don’t have to lie in a casket (or receive a scary diagnosis) to do these simple, yet powerful, things.
Please share your story of a time when you gained a new perspective on the way you see your life. If you haven’t had that moment yet, fake your own funeral and let us all know what you learn.
Stay Well, Stay Happy,