A viewing means to have an open casket.
is when the body is laid out in the casket (which may be open or
closed) before the service so that family, friends and mourners may
come to "visit."
A visitation offers a chance for people to "pay their final respects" to the dead person.
as important, the visitation can be a time for mourners to meet and
console each other in a more informal setting than at the funeral.
can schedule a visitation for as little as half an hour on the day of
the service, or it can last for several days before the service.
visitation can be restricted to just close friends and family, or be
open to the public. You can even have a combination of private and
Is there a special ceremony?
part of the visitation, you can arrange a formal ceremony, an informal
ceremony, or none at all. The formal ceremony might be a brief service
with the saying of the rosary (for Catholics) or prayers for the dead
led by a mourner or member of the clergy.
The term wake is sometimes used to describe the reception after the funeral or memorial service.
though, a wake means the friends and family keeping watch by the body
before it is safely buried especially through the night. (Hence the
term "wake.") In some families, there is much drinking and feasting and
storytelling during the vigil.
For those who are comfortable with it, an informal storytelling session can be a wonderful way to remember the person.
stories don't all have to be solemn, nor do they all have to show the
person as a saint. We often love people as much for their flaws as for
Remember, too, that laughter is as much a sign of strong emotion as tears or anger.
And if the person had a good sense of humor, there are bound to be some funny stories.
This sharing can be a rich and powerful experience. You might even want to tape record this event to listen to again later.