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Elderly parent doesn't want wake or funeral

  • 21-11-2022 12:06pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭

    A couple of Christmas's ago when the family was together my mother announced that she didn't want a wake or funeral when the time comes. We half laughed it off saying she has many years ahead of her.

    She's not well now and I'm thinking about what she said.

    What would no wake or funeral mean practically? Is it possible? What about normal family and friends expectations and paying respects?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,582 ✭✭✭Princess Calla

    A delicate subject especially as she's sick now.

    I'd ask her again what she would like.

    Might be a case of going from undertaker's to crematorium if she doesn't want an actual funeral.

    You'll see on rip "funeral already taken place" so it's not uncommon.

    Friends and family, well they kinda need to go along with the wishes of the dead person.

    If they want to arrange a get together themselves in memory of your mum there's nothing stopping them.

  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,208 Mod ✭✭✭✭HildaOgdenx

    Yes, I'm sure it's possible. I have occasionally seen a death notice stating 'private funeral' or as pp said an announcement that the funeral/ burial has taken place.

    It's a tough one because the funeral rituals are very important to most of us, and imo are comforting to the bereaved. But if that's what your mother wants that's what counts.

    Something like a small gathering on the date of say, a month's mind for example, might be a way for family and friends to get together afterwards while still complying with the wishes she expressed.

    If it's possible, and I know it wouldn't be easy, maybe ask her if those are still her wishes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭Heighway61

    I'm sitting here in shock right now. Just got the "next 24 hours" phone call from the hospital.

  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,208 Mod ✭✭✭✭HildaOgdenx

    Really sorry to hear that, OP.

    Mind yourself.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,203 ✭✭✭Tork

    I'm very sorry to see this OP. Take care of yourself and make sure you have no regrets.

    Going back to your initial question, you know your mother better than anybody else. If she isn't the sort of person who likes to make a fuss, it's understandable that she mightn't want a wake or a funeral. Maybe you could split the difference and have a quiet family-only low-key blessing rather than a funeral mass. That's assuming your mum had a religious faith. I agree with Hilda who has pointed out how important the funeral ritual is. You're going to learn that for yourself in the coming days - how the support of other people in your family and community help the bereaved family. If you and your family opt not to have a traditional funeral and wake, try to organise something to remember your mum in the coming weeks.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,628 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    My Aunt donated her body to medical science.

    Agreement was signed years ago. She aged and went downhill, dying at home with dementia at age 87.

    She was waked at home on the evening of the day she died, having been presented by the certifying Doctor and District nurse, who laid her out, with great dignity.

    The next morning, around 10am, a discreet silver van arrived from the School of Medicine at the University. Two immaculately dressed attendants brought a plain reusable coffin upstairs and after 30 minutes or so, her immediate family beared her out (bore?) and she was placed in the van.

    A small procession of mourners followed the van as far as the nearest main road and the van departed.

    That was that. We had a memorial gathering weeks later.

    After two years, her remains will be cremated and the ashes returned to the executor of her will.

    No fuss, no mess.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,203 ✭✭✭Tork

    That reminds me a bit of neighbour's father who donated his body to medical science. The family had some sort of small, private funeral or blessing (not 100% sure exactly) before he was collected and taken away. The next night, the family organised a memorial ceremony in the church. His remains were later cremated and returned to them

  • Registered Users Posts: 96 ✭✭midnightblue

    Thank you for sharing this Larbre34. I've recently signed up to do the same with RCSI.

    Post edited by midnightblue on

  • Administrators Posts: 13,436 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    A wake usually entails an open coffin and maybe that's what your mam meant that she didn't want everyone walking in looking at her. You could still have a small private ceremony, with a closed coffin and then a private cremation, burial, whichever you prefer.

    It's an awful time now. I hope you're OK. Your mam might have spoken to someone else in the family in more detail about her wishes. It's going to be an upsetting time with maybe some family pushing for their own wishes. Try not to let emotions get the better of everyone at this stage. It's a tough time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,628 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    Thanks on behalf of humanity and science!

    I don't recall if it was RCSI that received my Aunt's remains, but it was them or Trinity and it was all handled with utmost dignity and respect.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I'm so sorry.

    If it helps at all, let me tell you my experience. We couldn't have a traditional funeral for my mother, as she died during the first few weeks of Covid so we couldn't have a wake or a traditional funeral gathering, as they weren't being allowed.

    It was only myself, my daughter and my siblings at the graveside, with a celebrant. We met up at the funeral home and she was taken by hearse directly to the cemetary, where we had a few words said over the grave, played her favourite song, we each said goodbye, and that was it. We went home afterwards.

    For what its worth, I actually found it lovely, and very moving. I've been to many funerals, but this felt intimate, and I felt closer to her, and more comfort from just having my immediate family there and also a great relief that I didn't have to put on any kind of public show, shake any hands, or go back to the pub afterwards, or do any of that stuff. I've actually asked my family to do the same for me, when I pass.

    Please take care of yourself. Whatever you choose, it won't be easy. I hope you have support.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,209 ✭✭✭AyeGer

    How serious do you think your mother was when she said no wake or funeral. Maybe have a private wake for immediate family and close friends only. And have as private and quiet a funeral as possible. It’s a real difficult one.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭Heighway61

    Thanks for the kind words and suggestions. I'll have a chat with her brothers and sister and see what they think.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    My mother passed in June and we had no wake. My father is elderly, there is only my sister and I. We decided it would be too arduous for us also a wake is a great excuse for some people to get hammered, and I didn't want that kind of drama as part of my memories of her.

    My mother had said she wanted to be cremated months ago. So we went down that route. There was one family friend who was miffed that it wasn't a catholic service. No-one else invited had any problem with it.

    As for afters, we met in a nearby pub/restaurant, and had a drink and some sandwiches. However, because people had come from allover the country, Galway, West Cork, Kerry, to the crematorium in Shannon, no-one was keen on staying long. To be honest, I think my mother would have been very happy with all the proceedings.

  • Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭Sigyn

    I don't want any of the fakery when I kick the bucket, no wake and especially NOTHING to do with the church.

    I want to be cremated and my ashes dispersed at my favourite spot. It's all down in writing, my son and husband know about it and agree with me.

    What I really want is illegal ;).

    Homo homini lupus est.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,628 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    Family friend?

    Imagine the cheek of publicly expressing that about someone that isn't your family. Even if it were a family member, I'd be telling them to keep their irrelevant opinions to themselves.

  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭NiceFella

    My mam passed away in July and we didn't go ahead with funeral as a number of us got covid. We had the wake though and it was a great comfort to me and my family. So many turned out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 85 ✭✭Toby22

    Hi, I want to be cremated and my ashes dispersed in two places. I have no interest in a Catholic funeral. However I have told my adult children I don’t mind what they do, I won’t be there to object once my wishes regarding cremation are respected.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,023 ✭✭✭Baybay

    My mother totally disregarded my fathers wishes when he died & did what suited her. She had no regrets & neither do I as I didn’t exactly adhere 100% to her wishes either.

    I believe funerals are more for the living more than for the dead so whatever helps is what should be done.

    Hope you’re doing ok, Heighway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭murphydublin

    I would be of the same opinion, as little fuss as possible

    Saw this last week and it piqued my interest -

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