I wasn’t really aware about how other countries or cultures deal with someone passing away, so I wanted to share my experience with it. Here in the Philippines, the wake for viewing lasts for about a week before the person is buried. Family members take turns watching over their late loved one 24/7 during this time. There needs to be at least one person present as relatives and friends from different places would visit.
My brother’s wake was held at our ancestral home, and I was one of the family members who stayed up late with him. Since we are from a Christian family, there is a service by a pastor every night at 7PM. He talks about life after death, loss and comfort. Each night, one family member would give a speech or tribute for my brother for a few minutes as part of the service. We serve snacks and drinks to everyone who comes over.
During this experience, I have reflected on a lot of things. Among these thoughts, five questions struck me. These are my reflections:
1. Are you spending enough time with your loved ones?
One of my other brothers told me that there were two types of crying during the wake: the kind that is remembering the happy memories and hoping for more, and the kind that is feeling regretful over things that could have been. In a way, what he said made a lot of sense to me.
It’s always better to spend time with your loved ones while you can. Mend broken relationships if it is within your power to do so. You don’t want to forever be haunted by words left unsaid or things left undone.
Life is so much more meaningful when shared with those who matter.
2. What is your impact to the world around you?
You never know how much influence you have to some people. You have a character, a personality that ONLY YOU will ever have. This is picked up by family, friends, neighbors, or office mates.
Do you radiate warmth or evoke annoyance?
Do you shine and make people smile?
Do you walk around with a cloud above your head?
Do you ignore those who reach out to you?
Do you help others any chance you get?
Even if we are not aware of it, we create an impact to the people within our circle.
How would you like to affect those around you?
3. What significant things have you done in your life?
We all have a couple of years of existence in this world. There are things about you that will be remembered by many, and some sweet memories by a few.
Were you a force to be reckoned with at school or university? Did you join any extra-curricular activities that you were interested in? Are you immersed in your hobbies or work?
Are you unstoppable when you are pursuing your passion? Are you the life of the party when there are events? Were you born a leader or a jack of all trades? Do you keep to yourself while being focused on a particular thing?
What are the most important things you have wanted to do or are doing?
4. Are you fulfilling your purpose?
Some believe that we are here because of pure chance. However, there’s just too much evidence in nature and my experiences for me to believe in that. I feel it in my heart that each one of us were made with a purpose.
We all have a role to play in this life. Whether we realize it or not, there are so many people around us that play a big part in making our lives more comfortable or better.
Think about it. Look around you. Do you know the people behind the creation of your smartphone, laptop, fridge, sofa, TV, blankets, plumbing? Even the building itself where you are had to be built by carpenters, architects, or engineers. Can you imagine a world without leaders or managers? Without nurses or doctors? Firemen? Police? You get the idea.
Even strangers that make you smile and feel better for the day might be fulfilling their purpose in this life. We all have a specific set of skills or character that we can contribute to the world. Some do it everyday. And they make the world a better place to live in.
5. Are you secure for eternity?
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?
Feel free to share your insights on my reflections in the comments below.