A Wake, Memorial, Funeral, and a Viewing: What do they all mean?

Losing a loved one is extremely painful so honouring them in a special way can be an important part of the grieving process. There are a number of different ways in which you can celebrate their life and farewell them in an appropriate manner for your family. While some services, such as wakes, funerals, and memorials, appear very similar, there are specific differences that make each one unique. Learning the differences between each service can help you decide what is best for your loved one.

What is a Funeral Ceremony?

A funeral ceremony is often religious in nature and held prior to the burial or cremation of a deceased. Funerals can be quite varied as they depend on religious or cultural traditions. For example, catholic funerals often involve a sermon from a priest, hymns and bible readings, whereas a traditional Muslim funeral often involves specific funeral prayers known as Salat al-Janazah and are performed in a solemn ceremony.

What is a Wake or Viewing? 

The word wake originally meant to “watch or guard”. A wake or a viewing is usually a chance to show support and condolences to the family, as well as to pay your own respects. It’s important to dress suitably and conduct yourself in a courteous manner, and you will have an opportunity to take a private minute with the deceased and to spend time with family and friends. The viewing or wake is often before a funeral ceremony and allows friends and family to stop by when and for how long they are able to. Wakes were traditionally to be viewed in the family home; however, now it is more usual for a wake to be held at a funeral home.

What is a Memorial Service? 

A memorial service is usually more informal than other services, but one essential part is that the body is not present, and the purpose of the memorial service is to honour and remember the deceased after the cremation or burial. During the service people may say prayers, sing songs and deliver eulogies. Quite often a memorial service has religious implications, where a “celebration of life” provides the opportunity for memorial service in a nonreligious environment.

With a number of options, it can be a daunting decision to make during what is a very difficult time. However, when surrounded by family and friends you can create a very special memorial. A personalised memorial service can have a lasting impact on the grieving family and help start the healing process. If you would like to learn more about various memorialisation options available, please contact the administration office where our customer support consultants will assist you.