Kevin Balke with his daughter Kylie Kajewski.
Kevin Balke with his daughter Kylie Kajewski. Contributed

'Living wake' gives Kevin a chance to say goodbye

KEVIN Balke was surrounded by more than 60 guests, including friends, family members and those he hadn't seen for a long time.

But it wasn't his birthday, it was his living wake.

At Kevin Balke's wake, guests crowded into the Queensland National Hotel in Laidley to share stories and memories over a meal.

Kevin's daughter, Kylie Kajewski, said the community turned out in full force for one last chat, drink and meal with their friend.

"People were able to come up and tell him how he has had a positive influence on their lives and maybe recap a funny story," Kylie said.

"When he does go, they will always remember that one last conversation they had with him."

Loved ones travelled from as far as Mackay and Byron Bay to make the dinner.

Kylie said the family decided to hold a living wake for her father after he received sombre news at his most recent doctor's appointment.

"He was given news he might not make it until the end of the month," Kylie said.

Kevin's son, Andrew Balke, is getting married at the end of September and the family feared Kevin would not be there for it.

Kylie said the idea behind a living wake gave someone terminally ill the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone.

"It's a nice way to tell people you appreciate everything they've done for you," she said.

A Facebook notice alerted the community to the dinner and, like any other wake, welcomed everyone to say their goodbyes.

"Generally, funerals are for anyone to attend so that's what I did: I put a public notice out on Facebook and said anybody and everybody is welcome to come along and have a chin wag," she said.

Kevin was diagnosed with liver failure in July last year.