Churches offering 'wake rooms' for those coping with end-of-life costs
Published Thursday, May 12, 2016 7:51PM ADT
DARTMOUTH, N.S. -- Several Catholic churches in the Halifax area have created ‘wake rooms’ as a way to help parishioners without the financial means to afford full funeral home services.
The new initiative, which draws from an age-old tradition, is growing in popularity around the region.
“We’re trying to begin the funeral ministry to help support grieving families in our parish,” said Rev. Toochuckwu Okafor of St. Thomas More Parish in Dartmouth.
Essentially, funeral ministry means holding a wake for a parish member at the church.
Deacon Bernie Coffin, who also serves at St. Thomas More, began a committee to bring the service to the parish.
However, bringing the atmosphere of a funeral home to the church didn’t happen without help. Rev. Coffin says several funeral homes in the area played instrumental roles in refurbishing the space.
“Things that we hadn’t even thought about, people would say, well, you should do this, you should do that, move things around,” said Rev. Coffin. “I think we’ve got a good product.”
Trevor Tracey owns a funeral home in Bedford. He says there’s an increasing demand for wakes to be held in places with meaning to the person who has died, and businesses like his are eager to help.
“You want to make it as warm and as comfortable as possible,” said Tracey. “It would be very difficult for a family to walk into a room with a presentation of their loved one and feel cold, and don’t feel that warmth and comfort.”
Officials with the archdiocese say there are several churches in the Halifax-Dartmouth area offering wakes, including St. Vincent de Paul and St. Benedict’s.
“I think it’s very important aspect of our pastoral ministry to reach out to those who are grieving and show them our support,” said Rev. Okafor.
It’s a support for parishioners that is not only spiritual, but financial. Funerals can sometimes cost thousands of dollars, butthe only cost for this renewed tradition is a free-will donation.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.