Insights into an Irish wake.
The first indication that death has visited a house is the amount of cars that line the sides of the road. One automatically slows as one passes this first line of mourners.
Entering the home of the bereaved, assuming the house is not full to overflowing with friends, neighbours, collegues, you are hit by the silence that can emit from so many people. Death has a way of stealing the life from those left behind and this theft infects all those who cross the threshold.
The air though, is not totally devoid of sound. The tinkling of cup against saucer is heard. The mumbled Thank you as someone accepts a sandwich, extra sugar or a fresh cup floats above the silence.
Everyone in the home is united by grief. The tears that seem to swallow the new widow, leaving her wrung out and empty suddenly erupt from others.
So one has their cup of tea. The weather is discussed; the strength of the bereaved is discussed. The health of the deceased up until the point of death is mulled over, heads shaking and tongues clicking in disbelief.
Then it is time to leave. Eyes search the home until the widow and children are located.
I am so sorry for your troubles , If there is anything I can do Voices trail off! What can one do?
The widow smiles. Would you like to see him? Her face pleads with you to say yes, to embrace her pain, to look upon the face of her beloved just once more.
An orderly line is formed and when space permits, one steals into the bedroom to see him
He is so still in death. So cold. He looks as if he is cast in marble. Life is gone. He is gone!!
Feet step outside into the cold air, welcomed and sucked into one s lungs as a new born sucks in before that first yell that screams Life . You vacate your parking space, yet soon, like the encroaching tide into a hole dug by a child on the beach, another car slowly fills the space you have so willingly left.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:]- Hebrews9:27
Oh, Bethy. Beautifully and painfully written.
Thanks for sharing. Well written. God Bless Bethy.
A wonderfully written blog. Thanks. - bibleguy64
So near to my heart. So close to our sorrow. Thanks, bethy. Well written.
True bethu..So well written !!
Somebody told,should love a person as if that is his last day in this earth.we can love wholeheartedly.we wont have anger or grudges or anything that disturbes our peace of mind.
Why do we find it so awkward, the parting of a loved one? This post describes it perfectly and poignantly. I felt the cold air and the anxiety then relief. We are so afraid to say too much... or too little. But maybe just being there is enough. Bless you Bethy.
Very good keep writing, I felt as though I were there.
Among American Catholics, our funeral wakes are almost always in public commercial funeral homes, where a line is formed to view and pay respect to the deceased, and then to express consolation to family members. The mood and atmosphere in this main room varies widely depending on the age and circumstances of the deceased, but in adjoining rooms there is usually quite lively greeting among friends and family. Your wonderful description of Irish tradition in the family home is sobering--hard to imagine. Many thanks.
Beautiful... you paint a vivid picture of how pain and loss feels. -I am always at a loss what to say to someone who has just lost a loved one because I remember my own losses... and the feeling that words just didn't help. -And they didn't... at the time, but later they return to comfort us... those kind words of family and friends.
Like eschator83, sometimes I am almost offended how commercialized funerals have become in the United States... sometimes they feel more like a "party" and the Irish in me is offended at that! -But some things never change no matter where we are. -The grief of the widow or mother, and the sudden gasp as a child or sidling at last grasps that they will not see their loved one in this world any more.
Beautiful word picture, Beth... thank you for a glimpse into how the Irish hold a wake.