Going to a wake social story

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When a person dies, the family holds a ceremony to honor that person’s life.  It’s also a chance for relatives and friends to get together and tell the family how sorry they are that the person has died.


One Place for Special Needs image - wakeThis ceremony can be a little different for each family.  For many families this includes something called a wake.


A wake is a viewing of the body.  This is typically done at a place called a funeral home.  The person who died is placed in a casket for everyone to see. Often there are photos of the person when they were a child all the way to recent photos.


Relatives and friends of the person or family come to the wake to see the person for the last time.  They share stories about the person and tell people how sorry they are that their family member is gone.  This is called offering your condolences.


People grieve in all different ways.  Some people laugh when they remember funny stories about the person who died.  Other people may cry because they are sad the person is gone. Some people say prayers for the person who died.


People who attend a wake may stay for a short time or they may stay for a few hours.  I might get bored at the wake.  It is important to be patient.  This is a sad time for the family.  I can be a big help just by being quiet and respectful with my family.


One Place for Special Needs image - wake foyerMost funeral homes have a large foyer where people can relax and talk without being in the visiting room. They may also have a kitchen area with snacks and beverages.  If I'm tired I might go to these rooms to take a break.


I might see some new objects I've never seen before.  It's okay to ask my parent or other adult what it is and why it's here.

More resources on the topic of death for special needs families

Why people die - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_why_people_die.html
Why people die young - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_why_people_die_young.html
What does it mean to be dead? - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_what_does_it_mean_to_be_dead.html
Addressing death when you have an elderly relative - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_addressing_death.html
Telling your child a family member died - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_telling_child_family_member_died.html
Handling anxiety, sensory and behavior issues at a wake or funeral - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_handling_issues_wake_funeral.html
Kid friendly memorials to remember your family member - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_kid_friendly_memorials.html
Going to a funeral social story - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_going_to_a_funeral.html
How to behave at a wake or funeral social story - http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_how_to_behave_wake_funeral.html

Here is a video of what a visiting room at a wake looks like (except for the hundreds of flowers). This family made a wonderfully respectful video that children should be able to watch - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ-AnLGibS4&feature=related
Here is a close up view of the person in the casket from this same wake - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT2tdZhx1lI&feature=relmfu

Dawn VillarrealAbout the writer

Dawn Villarreal runs One Place for Special Needs, a national disability resource that lets you find local and online resources, events and even other families in your neighborhood plus over 4,000 online resources! Stay awhile and check out the site. She is also moderator of Autism Community Connection, a Yahoo group for families in Illinois. Reprint permission granted by including: Reprinted with permission from One Place for Special Needs http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com