Let me set the scene…
A loved one has died and his close family and community friends have all gathered to celebrate a long life well lived. Instead of a funeral dirge on a church organ, the sounds of folk music from a local ensemble inspire general merrymaking and even some dancing.
“How appropriate”, attendees agree for a guy known to dance the night away. Instead of the normal light lunch and punch, local brew is on tap and his favorite barbeque with all the fixings. A card game has gathered around a table, with the only straight faces in the room trying to disguise each hand. The contest includes a display of cards next to an empty chair honoring a special request by the deceased for one last chance to take the pot.
Forget about a long impersonal funeral message that feels like it could have been delivered for just about anyone. This bittersweet celebration of life includes words that result in emotions ranging between the extremes of tears and laughter, with heartfelt favorite poetry, hilarious storytelling, and even an embarrassing revelation or two.
What you are picturing in your mind right now is what some have come to know as a farewell party, the new alternative to the traditional funeral. Problem is there is nothing new about it. The scene previously recounted happened over 200 years ago at an Irish Wake.
At the time, many in authority around customary funeral traditions and etiquette looked down upon or even tried to stop this type of life celebration. By the mid-19th century as Irish immigration to the United States increased, many similar parties were thrown when a loved one left the country. These became known as “American wakes” and were essentially farewell parties since family and friends might never be seen again.
These life celebrations have not only survived to today but are now indeed flourishing all anew. For me, life celebrations such as these are so appropriate for us with one caveat.
To bid a loved one farewell suggests that they are leaving on a journey, yes, but never to be seen again? We shall see, we will see.
One thing’s for sure, the saying, “If it’s new it’s probably not true, if it’s true it’s probably not new” has been proven right again. Such a rich tradition returning is both freeing and comforting for some families yearning to express the life of the person they have lost in a way that represents their true character and spirit.
Many are discovering the complexities of mourning with joy and satisfying laughter at a farewell party for the first time. Expressing the unique blessing that a life’s impact has had on us sometimes means a celebration just makes perfect sense.
At Moles Farewell Tributes, the farewell party has become a regular part of what we help families create all the time. With inspiration from Ireland or maybe even New Orleans, a farewell party opens the door to almost endless possibilities and experiences.
Maybe you have been touched by a life that deserves to be celebrated or would like this type of wake to be experienced by those honoring your own life one day. Though it might seem strange to plan for tears and laughter, there really is nothing wrong at all. Or even “new” for that matter.
If you are one of those people, we are prepared to listen and help create a memorable farewell party experience exactly “your way”. Somebody cue the Sinatra….