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In the hush of grief and the tranquil solemnity of remembrance, a memorial wake emerges as a gentle beacon, casting a light on the communal love and appreciation for a life well-lived. These occasions are not just for mourning the departure of a loved one; they also offer opportunities to celebrate their stories, experiences, and legacies. 

Amid the sorrow, these gatherings present a chance to pay tribute to the individual, reminisce about their unique journey, and inspire those left behind with touching anecdotes. However, arranging a meaningful memorial wake can be a challenge. Striking a balance between sorrow and celebration, between private mourning and public commemoration, is critical. 

With careful planning, you can create an event that honours your loved one and provides solace and closure for those in attendance. The following sections offer guidance for those entrusted with the profound task of honouring life. 

  • Honour The Deceased Through Symbols 

Incorporating elements that symbolise the departed’s personality is integral to arranging a memorial wake. These could be anything from their favourite colour, a significant quote, or an emblem representing their hobby or profession. If they were a gardening enthusiast, a tastefully curated display of sympathy & funeral flowers could silently attest to their love for nature. 

Such flowers not only serve as a tribute but also spark conversations about shared memories linked to the departed. Choose blooms that express appropriate emotions for the occasion. For example, lilies symbolise the restored innocence of the departed’s soul. 

Carnations, in their various colours, can signify love, fascination, or distinction. Each flower and its colour tells a story; intertwine these with the narrative of your loved one to create a fitting homage. Remember, the goal is to stimulate shared stories and memories, not to invoke sadness. 

  • Create An Atmosphere Of Reminiscence 

Creating an atmosphere encouraging reminiscence and storytelling is crucial when arranging a memorial wake. The environment should serve as a tribute rather than a sorrowful event. 

Consider the space’s layout and decoration. You might want to designate a corner where attendees can sit and share memories of the departed. Place mementos, letters, and personal belongings in this space that reflect the personality and life of the departed. 

These details can put guests at ease, encouraging them to open up and share their stories and memories. Remember, the goal of a wake isn’t just to mourn the departed but to celebrate their life and legacy. 

  • Incorporate Music 

Music profoundly influences our emotions and can play a vital role at a memorial wake. If the departed loved music and dance, lively jazz tunes would be fitting. If they cherished tranquillity and peace, serene instrumental pieces would be an appropriate choice. 

Consider inviting a local band or choir to perform or ask musically talented friends or family of the deceased to play. Music not only sets the mood for the event but also serves as a touching tribute to the departed’s life. 

couple pining after their relative at funeral. generative ai.

  • Foster Storytelling 

Encouraging the sharing of stories and memories is a primary aim of a memorial wake. Establishing a storytelling space can give attendees an emotional outlet while honouring the deceased’s life. Consider creating a designated area for guests to share their memories or foster impromptu speeches during the occasion. 

For instance, a memory tree, where guests can inscribe their favourite anecdotes about the departed on cards, ignites conversation. Hanging these on the tree branches generates a tangible keepsake of the individual’s life. Alternatively, a memorial video or slideshow featuring photos and videos could provide a poignant backdrop to the storytelling session, sparking memories and facilitating conversation. 

  • Select A Comfortable Setting 

Select a location that is comforting and inviting, one that reflects the personality of the departed. If they cherished the beach, a seaside location for the wake could be ideal. 

The setting should promote conversation and reminiscence, with comfortable seating, soothing music, and soft lighting contributing to a tranquil and inviting atmosphere. A local park, a beloved family home, or even a favourite restaurant can be perfect venues, fostering a sense of familiarity and comfort. 

  • Don’t Neglect The Role Of Food And Drink 

Food and drink are crucial in mourning and remembrance in many cultures. Sharing a meal can provide comfort, create a sense of community, and foster an atmosphere conducive to sharing stories. Plan a menu of the deceased’s favourite dishes or food items specific to their life or culture. 

For example, if the departed were a fan of Italian cuisine, a spread of their favourite pasta dishes and tiramisu for dessert could be an appropriate tribute. Alternatively, if they had a notorious sweet tooth, a dessert bar featuring their favourite sweet treats could serve as a charming reminder of their quirks and preferences. 

  • Offer Personal Keepsakes 

Giving attendees a small keepsake is a thoughtful gesture that helps keep the memory of the departed alive. This could be anything from a printed collection of their favourite quotes to a seedling to plant in their memory. The goal is to create something tangible that guests can take away as a reminder of the deceased’s life and their shared memories. 

For instance, if the departed was an avid reader, bookmarks featuring a photo and a favourite quote could be a fitting memento. If they were passionate about nature and the outdoors, a packet of seeds for guests to plant in their memory could offer a living tribute that blossoms over time. 

  • Recognise The Importance Of Photos 

Photos capture moments of joy, achievements, and unique experiences. Setting up a photo display or running a slideshow of images from different stages of the departed’s life offers attendees a visual journey through their experiences and accomplishments. 

Don’t just focus on showcasing major milestones through photography—including candid shots, images of everyday moments, and photos that reflect your personality. These snapshots can spark conversations, trigger fond memories, and help attendees connect more deeply with the departed. 

Final Words 

As the day of the memorial wake fades into dusk, it leaves behind the comforting warmth of shared memories, reinforcing bonds and leaving a resonating echo of a life well celebrated. 

Planning a comforting and meaningful wake is a significant undertaking. However, with thoughtful planning and a focus on celebration over sorrow, you can honour your loved one in a meaningful way. 

This event provides solace and closure for those in attendance. A wake should serve as a heartfelt farewell, a celebration of life, and above all, a shared recollection of enduring stories. 


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