To Wake or Not to Wake

OK, the title offers many ideas of what this post might be about. Am I talking about waking someone from bed? Nope this is about waking someone. This is a timly topic since there were so many deaths last week.

The same day that MJ and Farah passed away my sister-in-laws mother had a massive heart attack and died. So last night we went to her wake. I had only met her once but it was the right thing to do for her and my brother-in-law. However it really got me to thinking and remembering.

When my grandfather passed away I was twelve years old and it was my first experience with all the formalities of a wake and a funeral. We sat there both days in front of the coffin trying to console my grandmother. For all of us it was a hard thing as we were living with my grandparents at the time. Hours on end just starring at the body in the casket. Yes it was my grandfather's body but it really wasn't him.

When my grandmother passed a few years ago we had her cremated and there was no memorial service. There was no painful memory of sitting there watching a dead body. When I finally got down to New Orleans I released her ashes.

So here is my point for this blog. Why do we put ourselves through this process of waking someone after they have left this earth. I know it will allow someone who didn't get their chance to say good-bye their time, but in the same token you could say good-bye to a picture of the person and it amounts to the same thing. To me a wake cause more grief and pain for the family. To sit there and have your loved one's lifeless body lying there just dosen't seem like a good idea. I know it is a traditon but really in the grand scale of things I think it is a waste of money and cause a lot of pain. I told John last night that I didn't want that. I said if he truly felt the need to do something like that then to do a memorial serivce and he agreed. In fact he said he wanted to go as far as having a cardboard cut out of himself in a top hat that others could draw funny pictures on.

So while death is a very sad thing maybe we don't need to add to it buy waking someone.


d said…
Why is it called a "wake" anyway?
I agree with you. We should be celebrating the life of the person who has died, not mourning the loss of that person. In some ways, the wake is for the benefit of the grieving and not for the deceased. I'd like to have a party when I pass on.

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