The Wake

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The statement you often hear at a wake is 'I wish s/he was here to enjoy this'. If you have organised a wake where this is said then you have really honoured the departed. There are cultural differences in the wake, but this is a time when the tensions of the death and the funeral have passed and there is a real opportunity to celebrate the life of the deceased. It is often a time when you get to know the dead person in ways that were impossible during their lifetime. It can be a rich time in which you meet up and hear about how they were when they were at school from old friends, or what they did at work and some of their experiences in their life that you may not have heard about.

Many wakes have alcohol and one way of releasing grief and managing the overwhelming feeling at losing someone close is to get drunk. It is good to have people at the wake that can be there to look after the most vulnerable, to help with dynamics if old or difficult stories emerge.

It is a time of hospitality and positive remembering so food and things like photos of the person's life are good to help with this. At a recent wake I went to almost everyone brought food which took the burden off the family and gave those attending a sense of making a helpful contribution - a practical thing that they could do which was appreciated.