Celebrating a Life Before Death: The Awake Wake

The only prerequisite for life is death. Except for a couple of biblical exceptions every living thing has died or will at some time die. In spite of this fact, the end-of-life is poorly managed by most people. Many have regrets or remorse at the funeral regarding not having done or said something they wanted to do or say. The is an answer–the Awake Wake or some suitably named function.

The Wake is an Irish tradition of having a party with the person believed dead present. This tradition started before science was able to accurately determine death and some people in comas were thought dead. It was presumptive evidence that if the person believed dead did not wake up during the boisterous party, then they were really dead.

Wakes or like events are still traditional even though no one expects the decease to awaken. They are memorial services where survivors and other can mourn. Eulogies are common and many of these eulogies express regret or remorse at not having had an opportunity to have a “good-bye” conversation with the decease. Then they elucidate what would have been said.

A new tradition is needed where the gathering is held before death. This is especially needed when the dying person is still cognizant and can be present for these good-bye opportunities. I call it an “Awake Wake” but it can be called anything such as “Good-Bye Party”, “Remembrance Gathering” or anything else desired.

This gathering can be a party, play, religious ceremony or scripted function as planned by the dying person and those sponsoring the function. Out of respect, it is mandatory that the dying person approve the function and agree to attend. Also, everyone that the dying person consent to may have a public or private opportunities for their good-bye visit.

We celebrate birth dates and many other events. We need to celebrate the end of a life while the person who is the reason for the celebration can still attend. It will provide closure and a lot fewer regrets and less remorse than now occurs among the survivors.

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