Sunday, November 2, 2008


Does anybody get the point of wakes? I mean, I know that they're specifically for the purpose of remembering a loved one and the things they did in life...but why do we, as a society feel the need to put ourselves through them. To me, it's morbid. Nothing nice about them. Not to mention they can be damned awkward occasions for the living - especially if you're me. Now, I've been to quite a few wakes in my time, and let's just say that my awkward relationship with these particular occasions started early in life when I attended my first one at age 11.

It was for my mother's BFF from high school - no, she wasn't the one who'd died, but her mother had. I'd never met the woman, but my mother was willing to let me miss school so I could go with her and therefore, she wouldn't have to go alone so naturally, I jumped at the chance. It was a room full of the elderly and middle aged with my mom and me being the two youngest folks there, and I remember thinking it was strange that we had to stand up there and look at her...and also that it was weird how alive she looked even though she was dead. It didn't freak me out totally, but I found it strange enough to set my nerves jangling. And then when the priest came out, it was all over. He had some kind of speach impediment that made him sound like the priest from Princes Bride (Mawwage...mawwage is the fing dat bwings us togevah today....), a movie I had just seen for the first time ever barely two days before and well, let's just say that laughing while a priest is delivering what was supposed to be a heartfelt, touching speach is definitely a no-no. My mother had to drag me out to the ladies room and calm me down before I could go back in.

I think that's another reason why I hate those things...I am queen of the inappropriate reaction. I cry when most people laugh, I laugh when people are in deep mourning...I'm telling you, I'm just bizarre. And then of course, there's the matter of what exactly to say to these people that you more often than not barely know who are so terribly sad that it's hard enough just walking through the wall of grief they've put up around them, never mind thinking of something intelligent to say. And the pressure of it all! You go right to the front of the room, in front of everybody else, and shake the hands of the folks that were closest relation to the deceased and they say "Thank you for coming", and before you know it, you wind up saying thank you back to them and they're left wondering why you're thanking them when you should have been giving condolences. I'm telling you, wakes are nightmares for me.

When I die, I don't want a wake. I don't even want to be buried. I'd rather my family cremated me and then spread my ashes somewhere nice and had a big old party (complete with booze and belly dancers) to send me off with a bang. Yeah, that's the ticket. No line of folks standing at the front of a room waiting to shake the hands of virtual strangers and listen to them talk about how "sorry they are" that I'm gone. Just friends and family, gathered together to talk about old times and watch the pretty girlie show. Yep. That's the ticket.


yarnpiggy said...

See, when I hear "wake", I think a big booze-up and happy send-off for the departed, rather than a morbid and maudlin service. I'd prefer a good wake to the serious, sad funeral any day of the week. :-)

I want to be cremated, and have handfuls of my ashes spread all over the place: some in India, some in England, some in Holland, some at home...

mrsb said...

You need a big fat Irish wake. There is your party! Of course at some point someone will sing "Danny Boy" and get everyone teary eyed, lol.

I want a green burial. Wrap me in a cotton shroud, stick me in a whole to rot and fertilize the land.

I tell you, the best grass in my yard is where we've buried past family pets ;O)

Anonymous said...

If you go before me (which would only give me two months before I die of a broken heart) I have no intention of having a wake for you. I will probably throw that big ole party...but I won't have you cremated either...I'll just keep you around the house...dress you up, you filthy and depraved things to your slowly-decomposing corpse...that kind of thing...I love you.


Jeanne said...

I agree about wakes. When my parents died four months apart in 2006, first off, NOBODY was allowed to wear black. Dad died in June, so we all got the nicest, most colorful outfits to wear. We got a few looks, for sure, but Mother was happy. We had a great minister who interjected some funny stuff, and yes, we laughed.

We still do. We try to do our best to remember them with love and laughter than to be mournful and sad. Though there must certainly be room for that, as well, because life after loss can hurt. It's balancing the two that's important.