29 July 2006

Irish-style Wake in America?

My family were having a discussion about this last night, and though I've done a bit of poking around online, I haven't been able to come up with an answer. Is it possible to have an Irish-style wake, with the body of the deceased on view in the family home, in the U.S.? The debate was whether it is legal here or not. I know that embalming is not required everywhere (is it required anywhere? I know I'd rather not be embalmed, thanks), and one funeral home website said they would transport the body to the family's choice of location for viewing, but I couldn't find out whether a body could be kept in a private home for several hours or even overnight.

My family are definitely not in denial that we're going to die someday. We've all let each other know pretty exactly how we want things to proceed when our souls are separated from our bodies. Some people think look at me oddly when I admit that we've had this conversation on more than one occasion, but I don't think it's morbid or something to be grossed out by. We all die, and someone's going to be responsible for seeing that we're buried properly and that Masses are said for our souls. And sometimes you run into questions like the one above, that you'd rather know before your father or mother dies. When you're grieving, praying for your parent's soul, trying to explain to a small child that grandpa has gone to be with Jesus, and you've got three days to plan the funeral and the family gathering, you'd rather not spend that time trying to find out whether it's legal for dear Dad to be laid out in his own lovingly-decorated home, instead of a funeral parlor that hasn't shelled out for new curtains or canned music since it opened in 1976.

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