A wake is typically a Catholic tradition where close friends and family members stay up all night with the body of the departed, usually at home. The belief is that they can protect the deceased from evil spirits. A priest or deacon may be present to read scriptures or recite the rosary and food and beverages can be provided.
Another way to celebrate a wake is to conduct a service, usually with prayers and scripture at the funeral home. Following may be recitation of a rosary and then eulogies.
A wake is often held a day before the funeral.
A viewing is an opportunity for friends and family of the deceased to say goodbye and pay their respects. It is different from a wake or funeral because it is much more informal and unstructured. People can stay for hours, or they can just drop by. They can also share their thoughts and feelings with other mourners and offer support to each other.
A viewing is usually held in the funeral home on the day of the funeral itself, or even the day before. The body of the deceased is often displayed so guests can say goodbye in a personal and intimate manner.
A funeral is a formal service that provides loved ones to say their final goodbyes. It is usually hosted at funeral homes, churches, or the home of the deceased. Burial is part of the ceremony and can be public or private. There is no set period during which a funeral should be held after death. While some people have it a day or two after the person has passed away, some choose to have it a week or two later. It can be done with the body or cremated remains present.
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