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Bereaving A Lost Loved One: Viewings Vs. Wakes

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Two events that are held to honor the dead are funerals and wakes. A wake is different from a funeral in that it is not a formal ceremony carried out by an officiant. Instead, the wake is held on the night before the funeral. Wakes are sometimes referred to as viewings, and you might wonder what the difference is between each type.


A viewing is considered less structured than a wake. The viewing is an event where the visitors come to pay respects to the deceased. The viewing acts as an opportunity for the mourners to share in each other's grief and say goodbye in a personal manner. 


In contrast to a viewing, a wake is usually considered to be a Catholic ceremony. Traditionally, the role of a wake was to give protection from evil spirits. The belief was that once the deceased had been buried, he or she would be safe from the evil spirits. However, wakes are still very similar environments from a viewing. It is an informal structure where you can express your grief. 

Besides the religious undertones, another factor that causes a wake to differ from a viewing is the opportunity to have a rosary service. The rosary includes rituals based on the context of the religion that the participants practice. 

Choosing the Right One

While each of these events has a somewhat different meaning, what matters the most is the significance that each event can have. You should be focused on the terms in which you intend to say goodbye. The goal is to activate your support network and is a way to communicate to others that your family has a desire for fellowship. If there is no public ceremony held, friends will not know how to properly respond to the death of a loved one. 

A visitation is a time to acknowledge the reality of death when the grief is fresh. Friends and family members are able to come together and tell a story about the loved one who was lost. Talking about the last moments that you had with your loved one can help you process grief internally. It's a great time to showcase those things that were the most important to the deceased. There might also be stories that are told that you may have never heard before. If you are unsure as to what the best way to honor the dead may be, contact a director from a company like Danks-Hinski Funeral Home, today.