With Halloween and Undas happening in just a few, we thought we’d give special attention to…wakes and funerals.
Like death itself, wakes and funerals are inescapable occasions.
And yet you can never get used to them. What to say? What to do? Should you even attend?
Whether or not you are in bereavement, know that wakes and funerals are an emotionally draining situation that no man ought to overlook.
Because really, real men know the protocol.
Points for presence
If a relative, friend, or workmate passed away, it’s a no-brainer to show up at the wake. While flowers and mass cards are always appreciated, not to mention they help dressing up the chapel, your presence alone is more important.
Depending on your relations to the deceased or to the bereaved family, a hug, a handshake, a peck on the cheek, a squeeze on the arm of the bereaved should show your concern for them.
But when important persons kicked the bucket, say a parent of your boss or the wife of your colleague, those add-ons (flowers, masscards) might be necessary. Assess your relationship to the deceased and to the bereaved family.
But what do you do when people you were once close but lost contact with—relatives of serious ex girlfriends, for instance—expire? If it was a bad break-up, ask yourself if your presence will console them.
If it was a bad break-up but you truly and sincerely are sorry for her loss—and there’s been some breathing time—we suggest that you go for it. Because it really is not about you, or what your ex might think. It’s about you feeling sincerely sorry for the loss, and paying your last respects.
What’s important is your (good) intention. Remember, however that going to the wake or the funeral is not requisite at this point.
Should you do decide to make that trip, however, know that the grieving family will appreciate your concern and your effort.
Should you decide that your presence won’t do any good—or if you really can’t make it—then make sure you…
Express your condolences
It could be thru a text message, an email, a quick phone call upon learning the sad news. It is not a cliché, and even then, so what? You don’t need to be cool in funerals and wakes. Remember, this is not about you.
Saying, “my condolences, my deepest sympathies, or I’m sorry for your loss” is the proper thing to do. Give them a hug, a squeeze on the arm, a pat on the back, or a tight squeeze on the hands, depending on what you are comfortable with. You may also wish to tell the family your memories of the deceased (all good ones, of course!).
If you knew the dead person from a long time ago—say in elementary back in the province— be sure to introduce yourself to his or her loved ones and tell them how you two met. They may be surprised to hear how the two of you crossed paths and happy to learn more about the deceased.
WORDS BY PATRICIA PAREDES
PHOTO COURTESY OF DEATH AT A FUNERAL