Fake Wakes is a business I’ve considered starting. Its mission: To encourage telling friends and family how much they mean to us while they are alive. Company Motto: Tell them now. Too many of us save up all the best comments about loved ones to finally deliver at their funerals. It makes me wonder, “Is there a door into our heart that only opens after a precious one dies?”
The idea of Fake Wakes came to me while watching the 1998 movie Waking Ned Divine. The storyline is that in order to cash a winning lottery ticket a small Irish town pretends Michael O’Sullivan died rather than the ticket holder Ned Divine. That meant that Michael attended his own memorial service while Ned was actually buried.
This is some of what was said… “Michael and I grew old together … But at times, when we laughed, we grew younger. If he was here now, if he could hear what I say, I’d congratulate him on being a great man, and thank him for being a friend.” And of course, he was right there sitting in the front pew.
How great it would be and yes overwhelming to hear what family and friends say at our funeral. Tearful favorite memories, followed by the ways we influenced their lives might be laced with a laugh or two about our foolish ways. These touching tributes would be spoken without our presence. People we love depart never congratulated for being a great person or dear friend.
Fake Wakes would happen when we gather family and friends around as we lie down in the middle of the room — eyes closed of course. Then one by one, each say all the things that they would if we were dead. Now I know this sounds morose.
But, hear me out.
I know how powerful this can be.
December is a time of gift giving in the women’s circles. For several years, we have forgone gifts of bubble bath, or Fanny May candy. We give words — words from our hearts. This is not easy. It takes deep inner listening and dropping into our experience of one another to offer something of meaning and substance. We do this sitting in a circle looking at each other with our eyes wide open as we attempt to digest what is said. That isn’t easy either.
Circle messages and eulogies have something in common. Vulnerability is present. Death opens us in ways that no other life passage does. The door to our heart is wide open at these times. Speaking from our souls takes practice. It is possible to slow down, drop in and dare to tell another just how much we appreciate them. Words spoken during this soulful sharing moves both the speaker and the listener.
A puffed up ego isn’t able to embrace this sharing. Hearing these messages through vulnerability not through our ego is what changes how we live. What is the difference? Egos are not connected to our souls but to a self-image not grounded in the wholeness of who we are. Great eulogies touch on every part of the person, even how their “flaws” made them loveable and sometimes annoying.
What if you took time this gift-giving season and told an important person in your life the gift they are for you? How might that touch them and change you? Doing this is more costly that giving a diamond and is even more valuable. And as the company motto says….
Tell them now.