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What is a Wake?

A wake is one of the ceremonies people hold to commemorate a loved one who has passed. It differs from a funeral service by typically having the body present during its ceremony.

A casket may be opened or closed; guests can pay their respects by offering condolences. A wake may occur in a family home, church hall, or another chosen venue.


A wake is an event held before a funeral that typically involves food and beverages, often with religious undertones depending on the culture of the deceased, but can also take place more casually with guests sharing memories about him/her and offering comfort to one another as they say their last farewells. It also allows family and friends to say farewells before parting ways for good.

Historically, wakes would take place overnight, with people staying up all night to watch over the deceased’s body and keep a vigil. Nowadays, however, wakes have evolved into more social gatherings before or after funeral services; they are often less formal than funeral services but still can include all necessary ceremony elements.

Location can dramatically affect the mood and energy of a wake, such as selecting their home or favorite bar as an intimate setting for their memorial service. Live music often adds an element to such events – whether lively or solemn, it can set the right atmosphere and evoke different emotions in guests attending.

Though it is traditional to attend both, attending only one may be appropriate if you find yourself overwhelmed or have difficulty managing the emotions involved. Just inform those organizing the wake if this is your plan so they can adjust their plans appropriately.

Wakes are an invaluable way to celebrate and memorialize a life lived well, so when planning one for someone, it’s a good idea to ask what their wishes for the event might be so that the party truly represents their life and fittingly honors them.


A wake is a social gathering held to commemorate a deceased, provide support and comfort to one another in their grief, share stories, and remember them together. There may also be food and music at this type of funeral service. Although less formal than funeral services, wakes can still have religious overtones depending on family preferences and may even occur at home.

Wake is an ancient practice. In Ireland and other Celtic countries of Europe, it was customary to hold an all-night prayer vigil for the corpse before burial to keep evil spirits at bay and protect both body and soul of those lost. Mourners would pray around the body, light candles, and smoke clay pipes filled with tobacco and snuff as part of this practice. Originally called lichwake or wake, its name changed gradually over time.

Takes don’t necessarily occur before burial; they may also occur following cremation. Wakes typically follow rituals similar to funeral services but may be less formal and formal regarding attendance and participation.

Some families opt for a wake rather than a funeral as it allows more time and less emotion during this event. Others see both as equally necessary so mourners can express their feelings as best suits their personal experience of loss.

A wake is also an opportunity for loved ones to express their affection for their deceased loved one and say how important they have been. While this might be difficult at a funeral service, it can be done more naturally at a wake.

A wake is traditionally observed by holding a party in the home of the deceased or another relative’s house, inviting guests to bring food and drinks to share, discuss what life has brought them since losing someone, share memories or stories about that individual, as well as look through photos or mementos that remain from that person’s life. Organizers can tailor the wake according to how long it needs to last before calling it an official celebration or keep it low-key and informal if that’s desired.


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A wake is a social gathering held before a funeral and may occur days or hours before its start, depending on family wishes. At such an event, individuals typically wear appropriate attire to attend such an occasion. There may be religious or nonreligious ceremonies and the chance to view an open casket and possibly view cremated remains if proper.

Wakes were once religious vigils where loved ones would stay up all night to pray and watch over a deceased until burial. While this practice still occurs today, it has become less frequent. Instead, some families opt for informal gatherings that provide time and space for grieving.

Wakes can also play an essential part in the mourning process by allowing loved ones to confront the physical reality of their loss, which may be difficult but is an integral component of mourning and can help people to come to terms with it more quickly – one reason viewings and wakes remain popular funeral traditions today.

Though there are numerous ways to express condolences at a wake, it’s important to remember that each individual responds differently. If it feels too upsetting or you aren’t ready, it is okay not to attend, but please remember how much support the family needs from you and that they count on you being present for them.


Wakes (also called Vigils) are among the various ceremonies held after death to pay their respects to loved ones who have passed. A path can precede funeral services, burial, or inurnment services, or it could stand alone without memorial services at all; no matter which way the family chooses to honor their deceased loved one, it’s always appropriate to offer your condolences and attend any wake that takes place if invited by them.

Wakes don’t need to follow a set format; they can be as casual or formal as the family desires. In either case, food and beverage will usually be provided, along with opportunities for people to share memories of the deceased – this could involve photos being displayed, slideshow presentations, memory activities such as writing on cards or placing my memories into jars, etc.

Some may also opt for more celebratory wakes, including music, dancing, and games. Although such occasions can be emotionally draining, they provide an opportunity to honor the life of a deceased loved one while remembering and honoring their memory.

A wake is typically held before a funeral and with the body present; often, an open casket will be present; some guests may choose not to view it but should not feel pressured into doing so by others.

Some wakes may include religious elements, with prayers led by a priest or deacon, scripture readings or recital of scripture, and the rosary being read aloud by someone from their church or priest/deacon. Other people prefer more secular ceremonies without religious significance, reflecting more accurately upon the deceased’s personality. Furthermore, families can choose if they want the wake to be public or private and whether to hold it at home or a location such as a restaurant, pub, or hotel – many prefer holding more intimate wakes!