Sunday, 1 July 2012

No weddings, just funerals

My hubby was telling me, while we were hurrying up to get dressed to go to a wake yesterday evening, "Of my one year stay here in this country, I have already been to 3 wakes and they are all from this street where we live in." Another one from our subdivision has kicked the bucket, as some would call it. This is the third time, there were already two previous wakes before this which we have attended. I know it's a bit odd or sometimes people find it scary and they become hesitant on discussing or even thinking about dying but the way I see it, death is inevitable. Nobody can escape death and live forever. Either we die young, die of sickness, accident, ill-fated (murder probably) or die in our old age. That's a fact.

So there I was sitting in my dad's car, with the other neighbors (plus my husband), on our way to the wake which is in the next town, while everyone was chatting about what happened, different things came into my mind. The sad demise of our neighbor shocked everyone including me. People have mixed feelings about it. As we all know, if a person dies of sickness there's always that sympathy vote and everyone else gets conscious of their health and try to know what really happened before this person died. My sister and I (my second sibling who is a nurse) were discussing it Friday night when he (our neighbor) died. I was not close to this man, although I must say I have been to their house a few times, during birthday parties etc. and I have been (along with my sisters) playmates with his sons, the eldest of whom I treated like a younger brother. So I basically know their family. When we arrived, I feel shy going in because there were a lot of people. Most of them are from Meralco, where my dad along with Mr S and a lot of our neighbors have worked for a very long time until they eventually all have retired.

Is saying 'I am sorry for your loss' or being a shoulder to cry on enough?

Going to a wake (or even a funeral), doesn't scare me at all. But it makes me feel shy and a bit awkward towards everyone there especially if I'm not close to the family of the one who died. What would I say? How do you show your condolences? Do you just shake their hand and say 'My deepest condolences' or 'I'm sorry for your loss'? Is that enough? I don't think that's enough. I mean, we all have experienced losing someone we love whether a close family member or a distant relative, nobody is immune from this heart-breaking occurrence. When I saw the eldest son, who up to this very day I still call by his nickname when he was a small boy, I gave him a pat on his shoulder (even though he is now taller than me) and said 'Condolence bro.' and he just nodded his head and shook my hand and my husband's hand as I introduced them to each other. We greeted everyone we know and my dad mingled with basically everyone who were there (I call him Mr. Congeniality as he knows everyone there). We stayed there about a good hour and a half and then went home.

What legacy do we leave behind aside from money and properties?

One of the thoughts that came to me while I was there was what do I want my wake and my funeral to be when I die? What will they be talking about while they are all sitting there during my wake? What snacks or drinks should they be served? What color and type of flowers will I want beside my coffin? What color will my coffin be? Will it be posh or just the normal one? What songs do I want to be played during my funeral - rock, pop rock, jazz blues, serenade? I'm kidding on this one. Who will be the pastor to officiate and pray for my loved ones? Will they be talking about good things or good memories about me or just what happened and how I died? Will they all be crying of sadness or will there be tears of joy? It made me think if I should write my last will (and testament?) now even though I don't have anything to actually leave behind money wise. Not a bad idea. Maybe write down a few things I would like when I 'fall asleep and never wake up'. But before that, what do I want people to remember me for?

What will people say about me at my funeral?

The bible verse that the psalmist wrote tells exactly what he asks of God, "teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12. We always get caught up with all the hustle and bustle of life that we forget we are only here for a 'short time' and that our lives are borrowed from our Maker. I believe the psalmist (David) wants to humble himself and let God teach him how fleeting his life is and what he can do to make it a significant one. This is my prayer as well. That this passage from the bible would always serve as a reminder that I am a mortal. My life has an ending and that one day eventually, I will cease to exist on this planet. What I can do is to make the most out of it and as much as possible, impact other people's lives by helping them as best as I can. I don't want the people at the wake or at the funeral to just talk about how I died and end the conversation there. "Oh she died of this and the doctors couldn't save her anymore. Such a tragedy. She was just [insert age here]." or something like, "She was ran over and there were no witnesses. They are trying to sue this so and so in court... blah...blah... Her husband and children are here. They are torn because of the loss." Who wants to hear only that? Although I know I won't be able to hear any of it, I would prefer the people to tell my family and friends how I have touched their lives through mine. I am not perfect but I know there is always room for improvement and by God's grace He will change me, as I let Him guide me, from glory to glory.

One thing I also learned after attending three consecutive wakes (I never get to go to the funeral because of work schedules), is to love my family and make the most of my time with them. Whether they be my parents and grandma - they are already senior citizens - my siblings, though they are still young, they are not always here at home so we don't get to see each other that much; my husband who describes himself as 'half-way through a century' and also my friends, I do my best to show how I appreciate them and also tell them how much they mean to me. I was itching to ask one of the sons whether or not they have spoken to their dad before the medical procedure he undertook which sadly failed afterwards, but I chickened out. I wish I mustered the courage to do so but I don't want them to feel bad even more if they didn't. I sincerely hope they did speak to him and have at least said how they felt to each other. I will be praying for this family that God will assure them they are loved and they can depend on him through tough times like these.

And about dying, I don't want to sound brave or not afraid at all but what I know is (and what my faith has taught me) when I die I hope I will be prepared to meet my Lord and Saviour and be welcomed in His loving arms and be with Him forever. That is what I can call truly resting in peace.


  1. Hey Katherine, can you tell me where the funeral picture is from? I'd like to use it on a site that I'm working on.

    1. Hi Christian! I have used the picture that I've found on google images. :)


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