My mom was very clear that she did not want a wake, she wanted a party. A great party we had! I only wish she had been there
My mom was a dessert lover so had planned on just desserts, but her former co-workers brought lots of food to share. We asked that if people wanted to bring a favorite dessert to share, please do so. We had a banner "Life is Short, Eat Dessert First" made with her pictures and dates on it. We had some great pictures in frames, a slide show in which my sister and I hand picked the music to go along with pictures from her whole life. We had cut outs of flowers and hearts and hung a ribbon "clothes line" and asked people to write a note to mom, or about her, or just a favorite memory. We also invited people up to talk about her if they wished. We also purchased enough of her favorite plants - Orchids - for each table and brought those to the Church the next day. After Mass, we gave a plant to people who were special to her. My good friend hand painted all of the pots with her name and words that described her.
It was beautiful and so much nicer than a wake. However, we are Catholic and found out later that the wake is actually an important part of the funeral rites. I'm kind of glad we didn't know that ahead of time, as this is what mom wanted. She also asked to be cremated. My only regret on her being cremated is that she doesn't have a full headstone, just a footstone, so there is no where for me to plant flowers, etc. My plan is to plant her favorite tree, A Japanese Maple, in our yard in her memory.
I sometimes wonder if her wishes were to make things easier on us (which is so like her) or if it's what she truly wanted.
I guess when I'm gone, I don't care much what is done. But I suppose it's worth giving some thought into and making our wishes known. My husband has told me that he wants the very traditional Catholic wake, funeral, burial.