Who should go to a wake?

cocoonerDecember 2, 2004

In my town, we had a terrible tragedy. A woman and her husband tried to canoe down a creek and the canoe overturned. The woman got trapped and drowned.

My husband and I did business once with the husband, and would casually greet him when we saw him around town. We never met his wife. Tonight the funeral home will be open to receive family and friends.

Is it appropriate for me to go briefly and pay my respects, though I am just an acquaintance? I want to do what is right. I feel so bad for the family to lose their wife and mom like that.


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By all means, I would attend, if you are up to it. I have found from the funerals that I have attended over the years, that it is a good thing to attend, no matter how closely or briefly you knew the deceased. When my mom died 5 years ago (I lived in PA, Mom was in Maine), I was SO touched when my high school art teacher attended Mom's service! It left me speechless. Also, back in '92 when my ex's grandma died, the maintainance man from her old apt. bldg attended, arriving in his work clothes, which were kind-of dirty. We told him, as he was apologizing for his mode of dress, that we didn't care how he looked, or what he wore, we appreciated his presence greatly. I told him on the side, that a service is not a fashion show or a popularity contest, and that we were glad that he remembered her. I would go.
Emma in PA

    Bookmark   December 2, 2004 at 7:46AM
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Nell Jean

One way to pay respect without intruding is to go by the funeral home in the afternoon and simply sign the register. This leaves a record that you cared and does not intrude on a family that you don't know socially. Another way is to send a card or note.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2004 at 9:04AM
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I feel sure that the family would be very grateful if you went to the wake. A bereaved family always needs reassurance that others care and feel that their loved one is worthy of the effort that it takes to get out and attend a wake. I think Nell's idea is a good one too, if you don't feel comfortable speaking to the family at this time.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2004 at 10:28AM
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You can never do wrong by paying your respects in whatever manner is comfortable to you. Unless it is specified that the wake is private, it is open to all and be assured that the family appreciates the presence of each person. When my mom died, a woman came who Mom had trained as a cashier many years ago in a department store! This woman was my age and we had both worked there in high school, while Mom worked there full time. I was so touched by her presence and the memories she shared about Mom. Another man came who is in my church choir and who I had never even had a chance to say hello to (knew his face but it's a big choir and he sits on the far side, etc.). Every single visitor is appreciated, and it gave me a completely different perspective on the "should I or shouldn't I go? will it matter??" questions.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 3:48AM
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Thanks for the responses. I'd decided to walk over to the funeral home and go to the wake. But there were so many people there, that I never got in. I waited in line in the cold for over an hour but had to leave. So I will be sending a card with a short note instead.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 5:59AM
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Sounds like I'm a day late on this but thought I'd respond anyway. Not long ago my boss was trying to decide if he should go or should not go to the services of a co-worker's mother. He asked my advice and all I could offer was that I've failed to go at times and regretted it later but I've never regretted it when I went. Isn't that almost true for everything? Personally, the only real regrets I have are for the things I didn't do more than anything that I did. I'm sure they will feel good just knowing you made the effort - sounds like they had quite a crowd.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 12:07PM
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