What Is A Funeral Wake?

A wake is typically a gathering of family and friends of a deceased person before the funeral service. It’s a chance to come to terms with what has happened and see the body as a way of getting closure. It’s usually more casual than the funeral service. Sometimes they are held in someone’s home, and other times they are held at a funeral home or church. There is no formal ceremony, as with a funeral service. It’s a time when people can gather together simply to share in their grief. 

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Why Is It Called A Wake?

Don’t worry - this term is not used because of concerns that the person might wake up and not actually be deceased! It actually refers to a prayer vigil, or a time to keep watch over the person until they are buried. This term goes back to ancient times when a person or family would stay with the body until the time of burial. In present times, this is not as much the case, and instead it refers to a gathering of family and friends to be together in mourning. 

Etiquette For A Wake

It’s expected that most guests will only stay for a short time to share condolences with the close family members and view the body to say their own goodbyes. Many people from extended circles just want to come to show support to those who have lost a loved one. Closer family members and friends usually stay for longer periods of time. 

If you’re wondering what to wear, it’s a good idea to stay conservative and lean towards darker, more somber colors such as black, dark blue or dark green. Stay away from loud patterns that may draw attention to you, as it can be seen as disrespectful.

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