The Unofficial Guide to Wake and Funeral Etiquette and Some Superstitious Beliefs
It’s easy to wallow in Misery Avenue when a love one passes away. But being as we are, we manage to smile, even crack a joke and laugh like a loony at certain times. A way of coping, perhaps.
I realized then that you don’t grieve 24/7. You grieve at the time your loved one passed on, and then you put your grief on hold to do what you have to do. And grieve again when all’s quiet and all you hear is his voice when he jokingly says “Good morning in the morning” to his grandchildren or when he greets us over Skype, “Hello darling” (he mostly tells my sister this since she lives far away; the only time he called me that was when I got deployed in Hong Kong for a few months).
So, in our case (and in our haste), we thought we had everything ready for those prepping my father’s body and then we realized (we’re already far from the house) we hadn’t packed his boxers. We were mortified! Because father will turn in his grave (or in his urn?) if we let him went commando. And then we laughed. Then went silent again.
So I tasked myself to take care of dad’s boxers and the nibbles and drinks that we must ready for those who will visit him. Now this is where all the etiquette comes in and what we have to prep for the next few days. Phew! I finally segued to what this is all about.
Pasiyam and 40 Days
We got lost in counting when his pasiyam will be as there was confusion as to when is day 1: the day of his death or the day he’s buried/cremated. We opted for the latter as that was the day we started the novena prayer. Forty days, on the other hand, begins on the day of his death.
“Proper” Response When People Say “Condolence”
The old folks told us that when people text or tell us that they’re condoling with us, we MUST not say “Thank you”.
I’m like, so what do we say then? “Same to you”? Or if crush texted or dropped by, you say, “Love you too”?
Since this is a first for us, plus my siblings and I are not really ‘old school’ so we still say ‘thank you’, especially if it’s a text message. I’m thinking it’s rude not to reply when people went out of their way to make you feel you’re not alone.
But if someone personally condoles with you and you don’t want to say thank you, then a handshake or a hug will suffice. Actually if someone you care about, ok fine, you’re crushing on does that… naman! Parang naka-score ka lang. What a fleeting relief from sadness.
What to Bring to a Wake / Funeral
It is customary to give mass cards, flowers (yes, the one with the stand. And no, you don’t give that kind for Valentine’s ) and abuloy (monetary assistance).
Some bring food (e.g. sandwiches, biscuits) and this is actually very helpful and practical since there is an off chance that food is the last thing on the grieving family’s minds or it can serve as an emergency stash for the guests.
Clothes to Wear and the Appropriate Color
As respect to the family, refrain from wearing loud, bright, neon colored clothes. Unless of course their grief and misery give you much to be happy about (eh kung ganun din lang, wag ka na pumunta at baka isama ka dun sa pinaglalamayan).
And yes, shorts that can be easily mistaken for underwear has no place in a wake. Ang burol ay hindi isang okasyon para mag boy-hunting.
Should An Ex (Bf/Gf/Friend) Personally Visit?
For me, Yes. Especially if you live within a reasonable distance and you have personally met the deceased several times. You go there not for your whatever-kind-of-ex but for the deceased who welcomed you to their home at pinakiharapan ka ng maayos at di ka binastos inspite of all that the deceased knew about you.
There’s No Buffet in Grief
Clearly, you are going to a wake and not to a party, therefore, please do not expect the grieving family to have a buffet prepared. Unless they are part of a society who can manage to have a funeral coordinator and take care of these things for them. Take Mang Dolphy’s wake; there was a separate function hall for the buffet and a place that Annabelle Rama chose to showcase her classy behavior.
The family usually prepares nibbles and drinks since people traveled to condole with you; that’s the least you can do for them. Offer coffee, juice, soda, or water and sandwiches, biscuits or chips because the horrible traffic may have gotten them all hungry even if they have already eaten earlier.
Some Superstitious Beliefs One Should Know:
Don’t sweep the floors during the wake.
Because your whole family might be swept away by the Grimm Reaper. But since we opted to have the wake in a funeral place, part of their service was to keep the place tidy. But I noticed they don’t sweep. They mop the floors instead.
During the wake period, don’t take a bath at your house; take a bath somewhere else.
This I don’t get why and so we still took a bath at our own house. So far, we’re all ok.
If you will put a rosary in the hand of the deceased, make sure you cut it.
So there will not be consecutive deaths in the family.
The deceased should not wear shoes.
I don’t know the logic behind this. But I’m thinking, maybe so they won’t make a sound in case they visit you late at night. Well, they don’t like scaring you, right?
Don’t go home straight after visiting a wake or attending a funeral.
This is so you don’t bring home the negative vibes (i.e. sadness, grief, misery) with you. So shake these off by going to a resto, coffee shop or mall before going home.
Change your clothes as soon as you get home.
Same reason as above but make sure you stash those clothes outside your house, like your backyard. Basta outside your house; if you care to take it literally, go!
Never take home food that you prepared for guests or food offered to you during the wake/funeral.
For families who held the wake at a funeral home, food served to the guests must not be taken home. Leave it there. Malas daw. In the same manner that food offered when you visit the wake, must be eaten there, even candy. Wag mo na ipabalot.
I bet there’s a lot of things I missed but this is it for now. With all that’s happened between then and now, death has a funny way of letting you see both the dead and the living, a little differently; with a little more love or a lot more disdain that you can possibly feel.