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Chinese woman stages own funeral in order to 'appreciate life more keenly'

15th April 2013

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Everyone has been guilty of concocting a random occasion in order to get the drink flowing and generally just have a good time.  From “OMG it’s Tuesday…lets drink!” to celebrating a lesser known religious holiday that has no relevance to you, everyone likes an excuse to have a good ol’ fashioned get together.  

That being said, I doubt there are many that have gone as far as Zeng Jia, 22 from Wuhan, Hubei province, China.

Zeng staged her own costly funeral, forking out herself for a coffin and fresh flowers to decorate the event. "It struck me that people spend all that time and effort on someone when they are gone and they cannot appreciate it,” said Zeng when questioned about her ghostly soirée.

No expense was spared as Zeng splashed out on a full-blown ceremony with photographers, mourners and even a posse of make-up artists to add to the deathly pale effect. 

To many this behavior would perhaps seem slightly self-indulgent but not to Zeng, who commented: “I wanted to see what people would think of me so I decided to hold my funeral while I could enjoy it.”

In China it is commonplace for the older generation to organize and plan their own funerals but no one quite so young as Zeng. Death and the afterlife are big parts of society, steeped in superstition and spiritual meaning, with death being viewed as an extension of life rather than the end of it. Zeng reportedly became curious about death after her grandfather's funeral in 2010, dropping out of medical school to study Funeral Service and Mortuary Science.

“Experiencing death has made me appreciate life more keenly,” she says.

Even though some very important components of the traditional funeral seem to be missing in this case (namely the lack of a corpse), this could be seen as quite a positive step in softening the taboo of death; self-preparation for an inevitable end that is undoubtedly daunting and unthinkable for the majority of us. 

The experience appears to have helped Zeng overcome any anxieties she had about death, explaining: "I feel so good after coming out of the coffin." 

However you view it, self-indulgent or helping to relax a deadly taboo, it’s likely that arranging a similar thing in Britain would have you branded as a sensational eccentric at best and a social pariah at worst.  Best just to stick with a casual mid-week social and not over think it. Who needs an occasion anyway?  

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