Went to a wake for a neighbor over the weekend, and was a tad surprised at how it was handled. Wondered if protocol had changed since the last one I attended or anything.
I come from a RC family, where open casket wakes are the rule. They are usually somewhat free-form in that there is no specific pattern/rules. You walk in the back, the casket is at the front. Some people are milling around in the back, drinking coffee downstairs, sitting in the chairs, or up near the casket. In whatever order you wish you sign in, chat with folks, go “pay your respects,” express your condolences to any family of the deceased, sit a while, scout out whether there is any food somewhere…
For this wake, you walked in and saw a big line of people stretching from the right of the casket to the back of the chapel. To the left of the casket was a receiving line of maybe 8-10 people - the spouse, siblings, kids and their spouses, a couple of grandkids… The only one I had ever met before was the spouse. There was no way to comfortably go up, view the body, and express condolences to the wife without “cutting in line.”
So we stood in this line for probably 30-45 minutes, before getting to the front. Then, after a moment or 2 with the spouse, it was a little awkward going to the rest of the relatives saying variants on, “You don’t know me, but your dad was a great neighbor.” And the receiving line kinda shifted over in front of the casket, so there was no way to simply spend a few moments with the deceased.
Absolutely no one was sitting in the chairs or hanging out - I got the impression most folks had pretty much “had enough” after making their way through the line. While waiting in line there were several tables with pictures and stuff from the dead guy. On the one hand, it was something to look at and discuss while waiting. On the other, it made it clear that they pretty much intended things to proceed in the manner they did.
This dead guy was Presbyterian - don’t know if that is relevant.
Ever experience anything like this?