When a distant relative, acquaintance, coworker, or friend’s family member passes, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether or not to attend the wake. So when is it appropriate to do so, and under what circumstances can you forego attending? Here are some guidelines:
Keep in mind that a wake is an opportunity to express your respect and love for the deceased as well as an opportunity to show sympathy to the family. If you are close to a family member of the deceased, it may be comforting to the family to see you at the wake. Even if it is a short visit, there is a kind gesture in attending, signing in, and paying your condolences. This gesture goes a long way and is not usually forgotten.
If you knew the deceased, but are not sure if you were close enough to them, ask yourself how affected you are by the news. If you were affected by the death in a strong way, attending the wake can give you closure and forward you through the grieving process. Remember, It’s okay to do it for reasons other than to comfort the family.
Another circumstance that often comes up is when it pertains to the death of a coworker or a coworker’s loved one. Again, you should start by evaluating how close your relationship is/was with the coworker and determine whether to go or not from there. If you work closely with him or her, you may want to consider a visit to the wake, even if it is short. Otherwise, a sympathy card is a sufficient expression of sympathy.
One of the only circumstances that would be deemed “unacceptable” for you to attend a wake is if the family has opted for a private funeral service, which means that attendance is by invitation only. Unless requested by the family, you should not attend a private funeral or wake.
Remember that a wake is not only an opportunity to pay respect and show love for the deceased, but also a time to offer you closure and show sympathy and comfort to the family of the deceased. Follow your heart and your feelings when deciding whether you should attend a wake.