When someone passes from our life, their Wake or Visitation and Funeral, do not need to be completely sad. I believe when someone passes, their life should be celebrated and remembered. One way I have helped do this in the last 11 years is to create scrapbooks for the Wake.
When my grandmother, Rose Kokoska Tregler, died in 2002, my aunt and I quickly put together a scrapbook of photos of her life to have at the Wake. It was a very emotional task, but also healing. The album included photos of Rose as a baby, high school graduate, married woman, family woman, elderly woman. Photos of her children and grandchildren and special moments. And of course, grandma's album wouldn't have been complete without copies of some of her recipes, written by her. Dumplings and Sauerkraut. YUM! The end of the album included pages for mourners to write a memory about Rose. After the funeral we made copies of the album and now I have one, my aunt has one, and my cousin has one. Something beautiful to pass down to our children.
In 2003, almost a year after Rose died, my husband's Nana, Frances Murabito Fratto, died. We had just returned from a vacation the day she passed and my mother in-law wanted a board made of photos of her. No scrapbook was created, but a beautiful board of photos of her life. At the Wake, all the Italian cousins came to pay their respects. There were tears and laughter and children running around among the adults which livened the mood. There were so many family members I had never met because I had only been in the family four years, that we took a lot of family photos that day. Never fail to bring your camera to a Wake or Funeral. You might capture moments or photos of family members you might never see again.
I continue to scrapbook and make albums for my children. When my uncle, Richard Holik, passed away in 2007, I brought five of our large scrapbooks to his Wake. Family members we had not seen in years stopped to pay their respects and spent a lot of time looking through the scrapbooks. The Wake had some tears, but a lot more smiles and laughter, as memories were shared about my uncle and the family.Of course the coffee and kolacky we had while sharing stories helped too. I know our Czech families spent many hours drinking coffee and eating Czech bakery at the kitchen table through the years while reminiscing. I think it is the little things that help us heal when someone we love passes away.
We must remember that as someone passes from our life, we can use their past history to create current history in a scrapbook. A valuable item to pass down through the generations.