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Differences Between A Wake And Viewing

  • On November 28, 2022

You may hear a funeral director mention a “wake” and “viewing” when they are explaining their funeral and cremation services in McMurray, PA. These terms are sometimes mentioned interchangeably, which can be confusing to people who are not familiar with funerals or cremations. In both a wake and a viewing, the bereaved get to see their dead loved one’s body but there are some differences. Here are some differences between the two.

People Gather To View The Body At A Viewing

A viewing or visitation is an event that is not always structured. Basically close friends and family gather at a venue to see the body of the deceased after it has been prepared by a mortician. The body can be in an open or closed casket depending on a variety of reasons. Sometimes there is no corpse to view but just an urn or memorial photo. Mourners also come to the viewing to share their grief and pay their respects to the deceased. A viewing is an informal gathering in a funeral home or the home of the deceased, which means only a small number of people are invited. The gathering rarely lasts more than a couple of hours.

A Wake Is Also A Religious Event

Since wakes originate from the Catholic Church, they are more structured than a viewing. There is always a religious session included in the schedule. So, expect a reading of scripture and other religious activities. Another difference is that a wake is more likely to take place in the home of the deceased and there may be drinks and food available. Just like a viewing, mourners get to view the body of the deceased, give eulogies, recite poems, and even tell stories about the deceased. The dress code is formal.

A Funeral Includes A Burial

A funeral is a formal gathering where friends, family and other people who may know the deceased come to say their final goodbye to the deceased. The difference between a funeral and a wake or viewing is that a burial occurs during the event. If the deceased was religious, a member of the clergy may be present to read from scripture. Many rituals take place during a funeral and the dress code is formal. One of the reasons cremation has gained popularity in recent years is that more people understand and appreciate it.

Why Viewing And Wakes Are Important

Right after the death of a loved one, the family often has to deal with this reality on their own. A viewing or a wake gives friends and kin of the deceased the opportunity to comfort the family of the deceased, and to see the deceased one last time. These events help everyone accept the reality that the deceased is gone forever. They also mark the beginning of the deceased family’s healing journey.

A funeral director can help you arrange these events even if there are religious rituals involved. All you need to do is specify what you want to be included in the events. Our funeral home has been providing funeral and cremation services in Canonsburg, PA for years. Let our team help you honor the life of your loved one.