Celebrating a Life: Blog

    How to Choose an End of Life Celebration: Funeral vs. Wake

    Posted by Jim Busch July 20, 2017

    funeral-1860298_1280-1.jpgDid you know that within the first 24 to 48 hours of someone passing, there are up to 125 decisions to make when planning a funeral? If a loved one has not already documented his or her wishes, a lot of quick decisions need to be made during an emotional time.

    As you go through the planning process, you may have some important questions, like the difference between a wake and a funeral. Although similar in the sense that they both involve honoring the deceased, a funeral and wake serve different purposes.

    Below, we’ve outlined the difference between a funeral and a wake, and how to select one, or both, for a loved one.

    What is a Wake?

    A wake, also known as a visitation, typically occurs before the funeral takes place. The body is present at this time for people to pay their respects and offer condolences to loved ones of the deceased. The public can typically find the time, date and location details of the wake in the deceased’s obituary. In the absence of an obituary, guests can either contact the funeral home or the family for more information. A wake takes place at either a funeral home or church, and normally lasts a few hours. If you would like your loved one to be honored in the presence of a caring community, a wake may be right for you.

    Generally speaking, the public is invited to attend the wake, even if there’s no personal relationship with the family. In this scenario, it’s polite for attendees to introduce themselves and offer their relationship to the loved ones. If there is high attendance, guests are invited to form a line as they wait to speak with the family. Guests can use this time to exchange stories about the deceased with one another.  

    What is a Funeral?

    A funeral is a ceremony honoring the deceased, with a burial or cremation to follow. The ceremony typically takes place within a week of the death occurring. The casket is carried to the front of the church, funeral home or other gathering place for attendees to view. Although the body is present during this time, it’s up to the family whether to keep the casket open or closed. Funerals typically allow for various speakers to eulogize their memories of the deceased.

    Funerals tend to be more intimate, with close friends and family in attendance. It’s a time for loved ones of the deceased to gather together to celebrate the life lived and acknowledge the death as real. This helps survivors who may be experiencing similar grief offer support to one another.

    Many experts believe that a funeral is a necessary step in the healing process. Without the opportunity to grieve at a funeral or end of life celebration, some may not face the reality of a death. To help in the grieving process, most funeral and crematory services offer options for personalization during a service, such as a memorial folder or tribute video. It’s important to note that no two funerals are the same, but every one is designed to honor the life lived and provide closure for survivors.

    Could We Hold a Wake and a Funeral?

    Preparing for death or celebrating a loved one is an integral part of life. Many families who select burial also choose to have a funeral service, gathering and/or visitation. However, this is entirely up to the family. To ease the process, find a compassionate and experienced staff that will help you through this difficult time. To ensure your family’s wishes are met, consider these ten features you’ll notice at a top Northeast Ohio funeral home.

    How to Decide Whether to Have a Funeral or Wake.

    Below are some questions to consider when choosing a service.

    • Do you want an opportunity for the public to express condolences?
    • Is it important to have your loved one’s body present?
    • How do you want your loved one to be remembered?
    • What’s your price point for end-of-the life celebrations?
    • Have you considered any personalization options?

    As your family prepares for a funeral and/or wake, contact Busch to help you create a personal tribute as unique as the life lived, or subscribe to our blog for more information.

    Contact Busch

    Topics: Cremation, Burial


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