People Who Woke Up At Their Own Funeral

Here are some unbelievable stories of people who appeared at their own funeral!


Funerals are understandably morose affairs. But what would you do if the woman whose funeral you were attending suddenly showed up to her own ceremony? Back in 2015, it really happened. And it’s far from the only time something terrifying and seemingly impossible like this has happened, either. Let's explore some unbelievable times people appeared at their own funeral.

Noela Rukundo Turned Up At Her Own Funeral

Back in February 2015, a Burundian woman named Noela Rukundo took her last breath. The loving wife and mother of eight had moved to Australia years before, but was visiting Burundi to attend her stepmother’s funeral when she suffered a tragic accident.

Her friends and family back home in Australia had accepted they’d never see her again. Her own funeral arrangements were made, and a few days later the ceremony went ahead. Around 7.30pm that evening, Noela’s husband, Balenga, finished saying goodbye to the last of the well-wishers and turned to head inside.


Then, he got the fright of his life. It was Noela, clear as day! The blood drained from Balenga’s face, but Noela merely smiled and said “Surprise!” So, what the heck happened? Had Noela really come back from the dead? To find out, we’ll need to head back in time a few days.

The evening after her stepmother’s funeral on February 17th, an exhausted and emotional Noela stepped outside for some fresh air. As soon as she did so however, she saw a man coming towards her, with a gun!

Terrified, Noela held her hands in the air and was ushered into a car, where she was sat down between two other men. They covered her eyes with a scarf, started the car, and took off into the night.


Sometime later, she felt herself being moved and her hands bound, then the scarf was pulled off, and Noela saw she was in a warehouse, tied to a chair. The men who’d taken her stood in front of her and told her they’d been hired by somebody to put her to sleep forever. Noela was too scared and confused to think straight.

Then, the men called up the person who’d ordered the hit and put them on loud speaker. When Noela heard the voice on the other end, she couldn’t believe her ears. It was Balenga, her own husband! She fainted.


Noela awoke again just as the armed man put down the phone. But then, something unbelievable happened. The trio told her that they never harmed women or children, and would let her go! Noela couldn’t tell if it was some cruel joke or not, but after the hitmen called Balenga again they told him the job had been done, and actually stayed true to their word!

Noela was bundled back into the car and dropped off by the side of a road, but she wasn’t left empty-handed. The hitmen gave her a memory card containing recorded phone conversations between them and her husband, so she could go to the police with it!


That’s some turnaround. Then, they were gone. It was time for Noela to head back to Australia. Noela had no idea, but her husband had suspected her of cheating, something she now fervently denies. So, in what may be the overreaction of the century, he’d hired the hitmen to take her out while she was far away in Burundi!

Then, when they told him that the job was complete, he’d lied to her family and friends that she’d been involved in a tragic accident. It was game, set, match; or so he thought. Back in Australia, Balenga had just wrapped up the funeral proceedings, not realizing a certain “special guest” had been there the whole time!


In reality, Noela wasn’t quite that brazen. That image has been photoshopped and is doing the rounds all over the internet. But while she hadn’t literally been among the guests, Noela had been watching and waiting for the right moment to make her move. And when Balenga saw off the last people, she pounced, exclaiming “Surprise! I’m alive!”


Balenga couldn’t believe his eyes and broke down immediately, begging for forgiveness but he didn’t get it. Noela called the police, and with her newfound evidence, landed her husband with a nine-year prison sentence. In this case, there were no ghosts, but you can imagine Balenga’s face was as white as one!

Old Man’s Day

Centuries ago, way back in the fall of 1571, the sleepy English village of Braughing was holding a funeral for a young farmer named Matthew Wall. The thing is, nobody really knew why. Oddly, there was no obvious cause of death, and the young man had been happily looking forward to marrying his fiancé just days before.


Anyhow, during the funeral procession, the pallbearers (the guys who carry the coffin) were taking Wall’s body down the lane towards the town center when one of them slipped on some fallen leaves! Everybody gasped as his end of the coffin came slamming down to the ground with a loud thud.

But then there was another thud, coming from inside the coffin! Astounded, the pallbearers quickly opened the box, and found a confused Matthew Wall alive and well inside! Apparently, he’d only been sleeping, and the coffin hitting the ground had awoken him!


How could he have been so fast asleep he was mistaken for a goner? We can’t know for sure, but Matthew could’ve been suffering from a bad case of narcolepsy. It’s a rare brain condition that can cause a sufferer to suddenly fall into a deep sleep, which back then may have been mistaken for death.

Whatever it was, Matthew was saved and went on to marry his fiancé and live another 24 years! The crazy scenario would even go on to inspire a holiday in the village named “Old Man’s Day,” which is still recognized today!

Every year, church bells toll, songs are sung, and bizarrely, the lane is swept clear of leaves. It seems a bit weird, since leaves are what saved old Matthew. But whatever, the moral of the story is clear. Always whack a coffin before you bury it; you never know what’s going on inside.


Brazilian Man Turns Up At Own Wake

It was October 2012, and in the Brazilian city of Alagoinhas, the body of a local car washer was discovered. The police identified the unfortunate man as one ‘Gilberto Araújo,’ and his brother was called in to confirm the ID, which, with a heavy heart, he did.

Gilberto’s body was taken to his mother’s house the day before he was due to be buried, so his family could pay their respects to him, and the trickle of well-wishers began to pour in. It was a sad day, but not an unbelievable one.

Until that is, an acquaintance of Gilberto’s was walking along the road when they saw something that shouldn’t have been possible. It was Gilberto! After they’d finished frantically explaining the situation to him, Gilberto rang someone at the wake to tell them he was alive. But they just thought it was a prank and hung up!


Exasperated, Gilberto raced to his mom’s house and burst through the doors, straight into the service. The reaction was as you’d expect. Some attendees fainted on the spot, while others barged past each other as they fled in fear!

After the commotion, the police took another look at the body, and realized they’d completely misidentified the man in the coffin! He was actually Genivaldo Santos Gama, a man who looked so similar to Gilberto that it had fooled even his own brother!


And for the cherry on top, Genivaldo had also worked as a car washer. What are the chances? So, for Gilberto’s family, it was a happy ending. We can’t help but feel terrible for poor Genivaldo’s, though.

AI-Powered Funerals

Creepy or cool; you’re at a funeral and then, out of nowhere, a life-size hologram of whoever you’re mourning pops up in front of you. Then, it starts talking to you and you realize it can actually hold a conversation! Most would probably wet their pants and scream "ghost" but this situation actually happened!

Back in June 2022, 87-year-old Marina Smith peacefully passed away. When friends and family members got to the funeral however, they were shocked to find out they could communicate with her again! Or at least, a cyber version of her.

Watch on YouTube

Her son’s company, StoryFile, created an AI tool called Conversa. Prior to her passing, Marina had recorded hours of footage of herself answering questions, shot from many different angles, which was then fed through the AI. The final result was a functioning hologram of her that could genuinely answer questions from the mourners at her funeral!

Naturally, she couldn’t answer anything under the sun, but enough dialog was recorded for at least 250 questions. StoryFile are now marketing the service at just $49 a pop if you’re interested in leaving your own AI mark on the world after you’re gone.


Essie Dunbar Survived Being Buried Alive

According to popular legend, in 1915 in Blackville, South Carolina, a woman named Essie Dunbar apparently bit the bullet after having an epileptic seizure. So, a funeral was organized for the next day. There was a problem though, Essie’s sister lived in another town and was informed late about Essie’s passing, so wasn’t sure if she’d make it on time.

Regardless, the service went ahead on schedule. Because three different preachers read at the funeral though, it took an unusually long time. This lengthened service would wind up being a colossal stroke of luck. After the last preacher finished, the coffin was lowered into the ground and attendees said their final farewells.

Essie’s sister however was nowhere to be seen. Then, just as it was completely covered with dirt, she rocketed into the service, begging to see Essie one last time! After much back and forth, the ministers eventually agreed to dig out the coffin again and allow the grieving woman to say goodbye.

Although, goodbye wasn’t exactly what she’d be saying. The coffin opened to reveal Essie, alive, well, and even smiling at her sister! Onlookers panicked and the ministers fell into the now-open grave in utter shock.


What on Earth had happened? Apparently, just the day before Essie hadn’t had a pulse, she hadn’t been breathing! Sources are scarce, and it was a long time ago, but the most likely explanation is that the doctor who diagnosed her made a mistake. Whatever it was, Essie owed her life to her sister, and it was a long one, she carried on for another 47 years! Incredible.

Chinese Man Stages His Own Funeral

If you have a gap in your schedule, why not host your own funeral? That’s exactly what 66-year-old Zhang Deyang of China did back in 2016! In Chinese culture, the dead are believed to have needs just like the living. As such, families are not only expected to arrange for the funerals, but also burn incense to “feed” the dead and even burn real money for their loved ones to spend in the afterlife.


Problem was, Zhang never married or had kids, so he was worried that these needs wouldn’t be met when his time came. To give him some self-assurance, he’d decided to splash out over $2,000 on a pre-funeral of sorts, to see who’d actually attend. The big day rolled around, and what a day it was.

Hundreds of guests turned up! There was singing and dancing, and Zhang himself dressed in traditional burial clothes for the occasion. At one point, because passing into the afterlife without marrying is considered bad luck, he even pretended to marry the spirit of a dead woman.


Despite all the frivolity, Zhang was disappointed in the outcome. He counted 20 friends and family members that didn’t turn up! Given that everybody knew he was still alive though, it isn’t exactly indicative of who’d show up at his actual funeral.

Timothy Dexter Faked His Own Death

Timothy Dexter was an American businessman from the 1700s. He desperately wanted to fit into high society, but he was a bit of an oddball and had married into money rather than earning it. Because of this, his peers considered him a fool, and persuaded him to make all kinds of terrible financial choices.


Miraculously though, they all somehow worked out in his favor. One time, he was convinced to try and sell coal to Newcastle, a British city where the economy was based entirely on coal production. Unbelievably, by pure chance he did so during a miner’s strike. So, he made a killing!

What didn’t work out for him was his relationships, as well as having no real friends, he was a poor husband and father. So, worried he might not be remembered as he wanted, Dexter decided to do the only logical thing he could: fake his own death, hold a funeral for himself, and see how people reacted!

When the time came for the ceremony, Dexter hid and observed from the shadows, but was sad and angry to see he remained a laughingstock, even after his supposed passing. Even his wife wound up laughing and making fun of him! But if you’re feeling sorry for old Dexter, stop. Shortly after the whole farce, he decided to enact revenge on his wife, with a cane.


Waiter Wakes Up At His Own Funeral

Back in 2012, then 28-year-old Egyptian waiter Hamdi Hafez al-Nubi had a heart attack while working, and after being rushed to hospital was officially declared “sleeping with the fishes”. Mourning but knowing what must be done, his family immediately got to work planning the burial and washing his body, as Islamic tradition dictates.


Just a few hours later though, when a different doctor arrived to sign the death certificate, everybody was given the shock of their lives. On touching Hamdi’s body, the doctor noticed he was still warm! Astonished, she checked if he was breathing, and sure enough, he was. The hospital had made a mistake! Wasting no time, she got to work reviving him.

After a few nerve-wracking moments, Hamdi woke up! Within a second, the atmosphere changed completely. His family and friends alike rushed to embrace him, and instead of completely canceling the funeral, they decided to turn it into a celebration of his “resurrection” instead!


Zeng Jia And The Fake Funeral Trend

In March of 2013, 24 people in the Chinese city of Wuhan held fake funeral services! You might not think that sounds like very many, but just one is weird enough. The trend was started by 20-year-old student Zeng Jia, who wanted to know what people thought about her.

So, instead of just asking them, she held her own funeral service and requested they give their true opinion of her while she lay in a coffin, holding onto her Hello Kitty doll. She even hired a photographer and a makeup artist to make her look as realistically dead as possible! Sounds like the only thing that was actually laid to rest was logic.


20 of her classmates attended, and each took it in turns to say what they supposedly “really thought of her”, which she claims gave her a better understanding of herself. 23 other people were inspired by Zeng to hold similar fake funerals, and a strange mini trend was born!

Captain Thunderbolt Mourned At His Own Funeral

Way back in the 19th century, there lived an Australian outlaw called Frederick Ward, better known as “Captain Thunderbolt”. Despite sounding like a knockoff superhero, he was actually a thief and general no-gooder, with a catch.

Supposedly, he never used overt violence and was always polite to his victims. That’s all well and good, but if a guy robs you, it’s not gonna make much difference if he says “thank you” or not. Anyhow, Ward lived the outlaw’s life for six years, robbing whomever he pleased, until things came to a crashing halt in 1870, when a police constable finally tracked him down.


Without hesitation, the officer opened fire on Captain Thunderbolt, who turned his horse round and started fleeing, firing back at him as he did so. Eventually however, his horse got too tired and slowed down enough for the constable to land a fatal shot. It seemed like the saga was all over.

However, at the outlaw’s funeral, there was a mysterious guest, a tall woman dressed head-to-toe in black, with her face covered by a veil. Some people believe that the creepy figure was actually Ward.


Supposedly, the polite outlaw never fired at the police, so he wouldn’t have suddenly changed his moral code at the last minute. But if that’s true, who was in the coffin? The theory goes that it was in fact his uncle, Harry Ward, explaining why Thunderbolt would turn up at the funeral.

Uncle Bush's Funeral

The year was 1937 and the place was Cave Creek town in Roane County Tennessee. 73-year-old bachelor Felix “Bush” Breazeale was feeling his age and was thinking about how sad it was that nobody got to enjoy their own funeral.

So, Felix made a decision, he was going to host his while he was still alive, and not only that, he’d build his own coffin too! Little did he know, this decision would spiral into something beyond his wildest dreams.


Within a few months, old Felix had finished crafting the coffin and planning the service. Plus, his friend at the local newspaper thought it made a good story so had put the word out about the unusual event. But neither of them could’ve predicted the chaos that was coming their way.

In the build up to the day itself, the hype rose and rose, until when it finally came it had reached fever pitch. In anticipation of all the guests, vendors had set up food and drink stands all around town. And they ended up raking it in. All in all, an extraordinary 12,000 people turned up! The usually peaceful Roane County was completely transformed into what equated to one colossal festival!


Felix himself was fitted with a dapper set of clothes and arrived in a hearse. When he got out and stood before the crowd, he was greeted like a rockstar! Throngs of people surrounded him begging for his autograph, to the point he needed state troopers to help him safely through the crowds and into the funeral tent.

Once inside, a preacher read his eulogy, and Felix spent the following few hours shaking hands and signing autographs for hundreds of people. After it was all over, he said it was the nicest funeral he’d ever attended.


And when he eventually did pass, five years later, there was no second service – on his request. To be fair, after his first, would you want to try and hold the second?

Syrian Man Walks Into His Own Funeral

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard about the Syrian Civil War. It’s complicated, but essentially, there are a load of different factions fighting one another and, sadly, tearing the country apart from within.

In 2015, the country’s government launched a missile strike on a Damascus market district, blowing the whole place to smithereens. One Mohammed Rayhan had been in the area at the time, and his family assumed the worst. So, they organized a three-day long funeral wake for him. Little did Mohammed’s family know, but he was still alive!


It turns out, he’d avoided the worst of the blasts, but he’d been left buried under heaps of heavy rubble. While his family mourned him, Mohammed lay trapped without food or water day after day. Eventually, on the third day of this terrible ordeal, a brave rescue team managed to find him and helped pull the bruised man out from under the wreckage.

Miraculously, he was okay. I can’t imagine the relief he must’ve felt! And soon, he wouldn’t be the only one to feel relieved. After some much-needed food and water, Mohammed headed home, and walked straight into his own funeral! Once everyone had gotten over the shock, their sadness switched straight to joy.


Bosnian Couple Organize And Attend Own Funeral

Back in 2016, a Bosnian couple named Dragan and Dragica Maric shared their own funeral, while they were still alive! The couple are childless so believed that organizing their funeral was up to themselves, and didn’t want anybody else paying for it. So, they bought and raised their own tombstones and bid farewell to the 200 guests that showed up for the service.

Watch on YouTube

Not that it was actually farewell, as afterwards they held their own post-burial feast, minus the actual burial! They even hired a band and sorted catering for their guests, so there was food and drink for all. Following that, the wake turned into a party that went on all night. That's a little unsettling, but somehow sweet!

I hope you were amazed at these stories of people who woke up at their own funeral! You might also want to read our article about what happens when you die. Thanks for reading!

icon Top Picks For You

Top Picks For You

darwin poster
Ridiculous Devices People Patented
The Weird Connection Between Mary Poppins and Pennywise
Video Game Theories That’ll RUIN Your Childhood
icon Popular


icon More From Culture

More From Culture

icon More From Stories

More From Stories