Many of us have had friends or family members die. I believe that even with lingering deaths, it is difficult to absorb what has happened. Our psyches click in to soften the pain which makes it a bit more tolerable. But still….
Here was Mary, she had carried this child, nursed him, watched him grow and mature. She witnessed him as he ministered, met him as he carried the cross and remained with him as he died. But then they handed him down to her...dead.
Even being with someone when they die, it is still a different thing when you see this body is now only the remains of your loved one. Something is absolutely missing and can’t ever return. This takes a lot to really comprehend.
And this is why wakes are so very important to the grieving process. In the past our relatives knew this. They kept the bodies in their homes or in the funeral homes so people could not only come to comfort us but also to see for themselves that the person was really dead. Seeing is believing.
When Emily was ten she lost two grandmothers in one month. They both died suddenly. When the first one died, she was told that Grandma K died but not about the wake and funeral. To Emily, this well-loved grandmother and babysitter was gone and she couldn’t comprehend where she went. When her other grandmother died, not only was she told about the death but was also able to attend the wake and funeral. Later she called me and said, “I’m really upset and can’t stop crying but it’s OK. When Grandma K died, she just disappeared and I didn’t know what happened to her. Now, because I was able to say goodbye to Grandma Rose, it hurts, but at least I understand. This feels so much better than the first time.”
In this day when we don’t really want to face death at all and we try to skip the wake thinking it’s unnecessary, let us remember that wakes have a serious purpose. They are meant to help us not only to grasp our loss but to also openly grieve. They also allow others to grieve their loss and to help us know we are not alone.Read More