What is a Wake

Different cultures honour the dead in different ways. A wake is a time for visiting and  the commemoration of the death of a beloved family member, friend or member of a community.
A wake is usually held the night before a funeral. Traditionally, the body is laid out so that people can visit and spend time with the deceased throughout the night, but in some cases the body may not be present at all.

The Irish wake is one of the best known funeral traditions in Irish society. It remains common place particularly in country areas and is a very important part of the grieving process.
A wake provides an opportunity to celebrate a person’s life with family and friends and to say goodbye as they depart from home for a final time. A wake can be a great source of comfort to those close to the deceased, as visitors reflect, remember and share stories of the departed.
Typically a wake is held at the deceased’s home or that of a close family member. Usually the body is waked for at least one night, where folk can come to pay their respects and express their sympathy. Increasingly a wake is being replaced by a viewing of the body at a funeral home.
Some wakes are ‘private’ and for immediate family only, but usually they are open to anyone who knew the deceased. Children do not usually attend a wake unless they are a close relative of the deceased.

A mixture of emotions will be visible at a wake, sadness and tears and also laughter as people recall memories and happy times with their loved one who has died.
Most people attending a wake express their condolences to family and take some time with the deceased. The body is usually laid out in an open coffin. It is also common for folk to sit with others over a cup of tea and visit for a while.

Most people attending a wake visit between 5-8pm but a wake often continues late into the night, with people sitting with the body all night so that family members can get some rest.

Last updated 13/12/2014

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