I have had my fill of wakes and the sadness that permeates my soul from them. My first wake was my own father’s at the tender age of six and a half. It makes one question whether little ones should even go, especially if it is someone close to them, but I am more traumatized by the fact that I had fun in that setting, running around and being silly, than from the actual reality of the situation.
It made me think of conversations I have had regarding wakes and their purpose. In the long run, they are a good thing, bringing together people who may not have seen each other for a long time, bringing people together in a support network and forcing the people directly affected to get back into the fray of humanity and process the sadness.
Is it a good thing to shelter people from the sadness of death and its effects on individuals and families? Is it better to wait for a time when chronologically they are more ready to deal with it? My problem is that there is truly no way to decide when a person is ‘chronologically’ ready for it. The age of eighteen? Twenty-one? Who knows? I have known people much older who really could not deal with it. Then there is the question of religion. It is somewhat traumatizing to enter a room and see the waxen face of the embalmed individual. Some religions do not do such a showing and thus for them, seeing this might put them over the edge. It is best to use personal judgment with this issue.
The downside of them is that they are traumatic for people. Perhaps, however, our society should do a better job of making it understood that there is a cycle of life and that there is death as well as birth, and perhaps we need to be better about dealing with it. Our society has a heck of a lot of things on its plate to be discussed and I suppose, given current events, that wakes are way at the bottom of the list.