Viral Funeral Videos Take the Stage – From Coffin Rising to Worm Burials

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Wed, February 27th, 2019

A man appears to rise from the dead during his own funeral, being led earlier this week by South African pastor Alph Lukau. A video of the event went viral, and a hashtag has already been created, #ResurrectionChallenge.

There is another viral funeral video tearing across the internet, and this one is truly special.

The setting is a funeral that occurred earlier this week, in South Africa. A large crowd is gathered outside, and a pastor in a blue suit stands before a sleek wooden coffin. Inside is a man in a white suit.

“It died this Friday,” Pastor Alph Lukau shouts to the crowd. He is grasping a microphone, his face is intense.

“It was in a mortuary!” shouts the pastor. “This was a brother! And this…” The pastor points to a set of nearby onlookers. “Who, who are you, family members?”

“This is a wife!” the pastor continues, and he motions her to come close. The crowd is chanting. Drums play in the background.

“Elliot!” the pastor begins calling. “Elliot!”

The moment is heated, something is up, madness seems just around the corner—or a miracle. And if you look closely into the coffin at this point you can see that the dead man in the white suit is breathing. But let’s forget about that for a second.

“Elliot!” cries the pastor. He bends down toward the coffin. He starts chanting in a different language. The pastor holds his arms flat over the corpse. He starts rubbing his hands up and down the body. He grips the corpse fiercely by the love handles. Then suddenly, the mouth of the deceased swings open, and the dead body rises from the coffin! The crowd goes wild. The music roars. The internet goes crazy. Or at least certain parts of the internet. This video naturally was a particularly big sensation in South Africa. But the main point here is that another viral funeral video has come online.

In the age of the selfie and the selfie stick and the self-documentation and self-promotion and self-publication of every aspect of our lives, it makes sense that death has fallen into the limelight as just another thing that has the ability to go viral. And here at Digital Dying we’ve got this trend covered. We have written about the photo of chimpanzees mourning the death of their cohort Dorothy the Chimp that went viral. And we wrote about Charlotte the horse, who collided with a cement truck in Houston and had to be euthanized—the photo of the police officer mourning the fallen animal went viral. And of course, we’ve written about the “funeral selfie” photo:

“Because of its popularity, scientists have begun to investigate exactly what is behind the desire to snap that funeral selfie,” Digital Dying writer Molly Gorny wrote on the topic in 2015. She quotes the work of University of Melbourne researchers who make a defense for the funeral selfie. “If their study is accurate, maybe things aren’t as bleak as traditionalists have decried,” write Gorny. “There will likely be more exploration into the phenomena so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

But is a viral funeral video exploitative? After all, if a man rises from the grave that certainly needs to be documented, and Instagrammed, and Tweeted, and posted on Facebook, right? In our search for the elusive answer, Digital Dying has come up with a list of some other recently famous “Viral Funeral Videos”:

1. The Viral Indian Funeral Dancing Video – This happened in November of 2017 in Noida, a city on the outskirts of New Delhi, in northern India. And I am not really sure what is happening here, but it is absolutely wonderful. There is a lot of dancing, a lot of clanging, a lot of banging, a lot of stomping around in the street, and a whole lot of color.

2. The Viral Irish Funeral Singing Video – Guitars, singing, lots of singing, lots of guitars, it’s a full-on viral Irish funerary singalong video! And it’s fun to watch.

3. The Viral Worm Funeral Video – A man in Britain finds a worm in cucumbers he bought from the supermarket chain Tesco. He writes them a letter describing the incident:

“Dear Tesco, yesterday I purchased one of your fine cucumbers which I had planned on using to make my favourite dish – a cucumber sandwich. Upon opening my cucumber I discovered a worm inside the wrapping…”

Rather than march back to the supermarket and demand a refund, the customer excitedly tells his kids that they have a new family pet. They decide to name him William. Unfortunately, they soon realize he is dead. They decide to bury the worm, complete with a funeral service and grave marker. A video about the event goes viral. Tesco sends him a $10 gift card. The customer posts a poem, or ode, to William:

“Although life takes funny old turns, we can all learn from William the Worm.
Let us gather, light a candle to burn, and celebrate the life of William the Worm.”

4. The Viral Presidential Funeral Candy Pass Video – This happened last September, at the funeral of Arizona Senator John McCain. President George W. Bush is seated with his wife Laura on his left, and Michelle Obama to his right. At one point in the video he passes something to Laura, and she smiles, and then he leans to his other side and passes some small thing to Michelle too. “Social media users quickly caught on to the brief moment,” The Hill reported. Numerous outlets reported the news. Apparently, at least according to MSNBC, the mysterious item passed between the former President and the former First Lady was candy.

5. The Viral Brazilian Child Rising From the Dead Video – Two-year-old Kelvin Santos had been dead for several days. A funeral had been arranged, and his parents and relatives were at the funeral home about an hour before the service was to begin. Suddenly, according to Epic Wildlife, who posted a video about the 2012 event, “the boy sat up in his coffin, and clearly spoke out, asking his dad for a drink of water.” The boy swiftly lay back down in the coffin. He was taken back to the hospital where it was reconfirmed that he was dead. The video about this incident, by the way, has more than 10 million views.

And this brings us back to South Africa earlier this week, and the video of Pastor Alph Lukau seemingly summoning a corpse in a white suit to rise out of a coffin. Like any viral event, the incident has spawned its own hashtag, #ResurrectionChallenge. Numerous users across Africa appear to have been posting to Twitter photos of themselves or friends rising out of coffins. Another Twitter user posted a video that appears to show the man in the white suit who had been raised from the dead seated in a chair inside a church eating a platter of his own funeral food.

But the viral story may not be over yet. An updated article published Monday about the incident reported that “South Africa based prophet Alph Lukau” is getting sued by the funeral parlor who hearse had been hired for the event. The parlor, Kings and Queens Funeral Services, issued a statement about the event:

“As Kings and Queens Funeral Services, we would like to distance ourselves from the supposed resurrection of a deceased man by Hallelujah Ministries who allegedly was at our mortuary.

It’s worth noting that as of Wednesday the article about the pastor behind the viral video of the man rising from coffin had been shared more than 77,000 times.

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