Would You Have a Living Wake?
A living wake can bring peace of mind to the elderly or the seriously sick/ ill. A living wake brings everyone together to hear last words and share loving words and thoughts of their own.
A traditional wake was meant to celebrate the life of the newly deceased. A living wake should be the same. Bring everyone together to remember and to celebrate while the guest of honour is still able to partake, enjoy and share memories too.
A living wake is a get together with family, friends, co-workers and anyone else you choose to invite to your pre-death wake. You have a living wake while you are still alive. This gives everyone a chance to bring the flowers, food and good bye wishes before you are actually deceased and can no longer appreciate them or give thanks for them.
I've always thought it was sad that the funeral was only for the living family and friends. The deceased doesn't get to see the flowers or hear what people say about them. A living wake lets everyone share the memories, thoughts and happier times while the family member or friend is still alive.
It is still not an easy event to attend. It will still be sad. But, it gives everyone to share their appreciation and love while it can still be heard.
A living wake can also be good for someone who is afraid of dying. Even if there is no reason for them to have this fear. The living wake gets everyone together so they can feel they have not left anything undone, no words unsaid. They can take time to plan it, decide who will attend and plan out their own speech to give to all the family and friends in attendance.
I don't think a living wake should become an annual event, that would take away it's specialness and it's purpose, but a living wake can bring peace of mind to the elderly or the sick.
Planning a Living Wake
Don't be afraid to have a good time.
If the guest of honour has always loved dancing and music make sure that is a big part of the event and get people up dancing. Maybe the guest of honour likes humour, in that case consider turning the event into a roast where each family member and friend gets a few minutes to make a speech roasting the guest of honour. Maybe there is a particular sport or handmade craft which everyone can participate in and play or create together.
You will know the best theme for your own group. Keep in mind, a wake was never meant to be depressing, people celebrated the life of the deceased.
- Send invitations early. Give people time to plan what they will wear, what they will say, etc.
- Make sure the invitations explain what the party is for, what will be expected and what the plan is for the event.
- RSVP is essential for this party. Make sure this is highlighted on the invitations. Anyone who is unable to attend should arrange to send a letter or have another guest bring a video to be played at the living wake in their place.
- Create a collage of photographs and make a video with clips from the past.
- If someone has created a family tree ask to enlarge it to poster-size and display it. Not only nice for family but friends will understand where the family fit in as they meet them.
- Moderate how much alcohol is being consumed. If people want to drink a lot let it be later in the event, once everyone has had time to be heard and to listen.
- Don't let it get too gloomy. Include reminders of happy memories, funny memories and memorabilia.
- Encourage everyone to bring the flowers, greeting cards and such they would have brought to a funeral. That's part of the reason for having a living wake.
- Get a great cake, or make one if you can. Use candles, celebrate all the past birthdays.
- Serve all the favourite foods of the guest of honour. Start with favourite breakfast, then favourite appetizer, favourite salad, etc, right up to favourite dessert.
- This probably isn't the best time to discuss a will or distribution of assets. But, it is a good time for the guest of honour to give their favourite things to family and friends while they are around to talk about what each favourite thing has meant to them and why they want that person to have it.
- Have a quiet room for anyone who needs to breakaway for a bit and have time to themselves. Not everyone wants to share their sadness.
- Have a guest book for everyone to sign. Give them space for comments. Encourage them to add anything they have written but didn't want to share publicly, with everyone.
- Get at least one group photo, with everyone gathered around. Have disposable cameras on hand in case someone didn't bring their own or doesn't have a camera.