What is a “Living Wake” or “Final Farewell”?

Elderly New BernShould you consider hosting one for your Loved One?

Last year, my Mom asked my sisters and I if we could throw her a party. She had turned 90 in December 2017 and as always, we celebrated her birthday with our small family.

She was always the “party organizer” throughout our younger years and she had never asked any of us to throw her a party. She asked us after she turned 90, which was also odd.

She asked me to call old friends that she hadn’t seen in years. She didn’t have many left and most of them were fragile and unable to attend because they couldn’t travel.

Shortly before she passed, she told me that she wanted it to be a farewell party for her to say goodbye to everyone. Then she was gone…it was too late.

After she died, I was beyond sad…I felt horrible because I disappointed her. She didn’t say it, but I had major regret because I let her down…we couldn’t make it happen.

I had never heard of having a “farewell party” or a “living wake”. To be honest, I didn’t know what to think because she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and hallucinations. A lot of the things she said didn’t make sense.

I wish she had told us what she wanted before she declined. We would have done our best to give her a wonderful “final farewell” when she had all of her faculties.

If you didn’t know, people have “living wakes” or “final farewells” for many reasons. Whether they’re faced with terminal illness, battling depression, coping with addiction, or other reasons; the common theme is:

– They don’t want to have regrets

– They want their loved ones to know how much they mean to them

Another important reason is they want to hear what people would say about them at their funeral.

The reason doesn’t matter. It’s about connecting with people you’ve crossed paths with and hearing how you made a difference in their lives. It’s about getting re-acquainted and sharing stories of how others impacted your life. It’s about the human bond and storytelling. Learning about others’ hardships and highlights in their lives.

This may sound extreme, but I read an article about a man who was turning 40 and planned a “living funeral” where he laid in a casket as he wanted to hear what people said about him and how much he meant to them. It changed his outlook on life.

We all have beliefs on the afterlife, some of us may believe in Heaven, Hell, Reincarnation…etc., but I think one thing that we may all have in common is truly telling people how much they mean to us and sharing stories before it’s too late.

I know this is a deep and a somewhat profound subject, but I wrote this article to shed light on this interesting topic. It’s food for thought.

Please let me know what you think by sending me an email or giving me a call at 252-259-6853.

Wendy Card

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