Are parties for the deceased appropriate?

A friend of my husband’s died and he was cremated. He was baptized Catholic but did not practice. Religion turned him off. His wife did not have any service for him but will honor her husband’s wishes by throwing a big party for him with an open bar. This sickens me. Anyway, my husband wants to give a eulogy at the party. Do you think this is appropriate for two Catholics to attend and participate?

Rather than a party, per se, perhaps your friend’s wife intends to hold a secular version of the Irish Catholic tradition of a wake, which is a vigil over the body of the deceased that is held before burial and at times includes some festiveness in honor of the deceased. If your husband has been invited to offer remembrances of his friend, it does sound as though the event is not intended to trivialize the deceased’s life.

I do not know of any Church document that would prohibit you and your husband from attending, and your husband from offering a eulogy. While Catholics might wish that a lapsed Catholic had been given a funeral Mass, attending this event might give your husband a sense of having honored his friend’s final wishes. If the “party” becomes too raucous, you and your husband can always leave quietly after offering your sympathy to the bereaved. You can also arrange with your parish to have Masses said for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

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