The Difference Between a Wake and a Viewing

Jones Funeral Home - The Difference Between a Wake and a Viewing

When a loved one, or someone you know passes on, there will likely be a formal service of some kind to attend.

On occasion, there might be more than one. It is not uncommon to have both a funeral service and a wake, or just a viewing by itself. The choice depends on the venues, time of year and what the family requires. Although similar, there are some differences between wakes and viewings that you may not be aware of.

The Wake

The traditional wake is derived from an old Catholic ceremony, which dates back to ancient Celtic traditions from Ireland. In these situations, the families and close friends would stay awake (hence the name “wake”) with the recently dead person up until the burial. This ceremony evolved over the centuries to the wakes of today, which often consist of a short service conducted by a priest. Usually, this involves some prayers and Scripture readings.

The funeral home is usually the venue for the wake and will provide the gathering family an opportunity to show their respects and offer condolences in a more social situation than a funeral service.

What Is a Viewing?

A viewing is an informal gathering where family and friends can pay their respects with the deceased man or woman present. The body will be displayed either in a casket or in a cremation urn depending on the arrangements.

Viewings allow mourners a way to console one another in a more personal way. Like wakes, viewings typically take place at the funeral home, most often the day before or the day of the actual funeral.

For more information or questions on creating the right funeral service – including wakes and viewings – for you or your loved ones, please visit, or call us at 815-288-2241.

Jones Funeral Home

204 S Ottawa Ave

Dixon, IL 61021