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This paper deals with the recent development of funeral plans, that is the pre-payment and pre-arrangement of one’s own funeral. It aims to show that this anticipation process varies with the subscribers’ family situation and social resources, but also with their experience of their loved ones’ end of life and death.
« Not being a burden for the loved ones » is a motive associated with funeral planning. It is a way of asserting one’s sense of family and responsibility, but also one’s financial and « existential » autonomy towards the loved ones. Moreover, the process enables to personalize one’s own funeral, reflecting one’s uniqueness. These identity issues, which are more or less strong and elaborate according to the cultural resources of the individual, will be discussed too. However, the individualization of the funeral does not mean that the deceased themselves appropriate their own funeral. The wishes of the subscribers are expressed in a pre-existing ritual frame, and do not entail reinvented ceremonies.
Furthermore, the development of funeral planning seems to indicate that anticipating one’s own death has become a normative criterion for « good » death, and represents a symbolic advance addressed to the loved ones. Indeed, funeral planners have in mind the perspective of their own physical and mental degradation. This process follows a compensating logic: subscribers prove their present autonomy in order to compensate for their possible future dependency.


  • funeral planning
  • funeral rituals
  • old age
  • autonomy
  • intergenerational relationships
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