Funerals, memorials, viewings, and wakes – it can be difficult to keep track of all the customs associated with death. One common question people ask is how long a funeral viewing lasts.
Typically, a viewing lasts for two to nine hours, but it can also last for multiple days, depending on the deceased’s cultural and religious practices. Some guests may only visit for a short time before the funeral service, while close family members often stay for the entire duration.
However, there are many different funeral viewing traditions and practices that vary around the world. In this article, we will discuss how long viewings last across different cultures, as well as other important information to know before attending one.
In This Article
What is a Viewing?
A viewing is an informal gathering held after someone dies where attendees pay respects, honor the deceased, and offer condolences to the family.
The viewing is typically held before the funeral, usually at a funeral home, but this varies by region. The deceased’s body is often present for viewing during the wake.
Funeral Viewings vs. Wakes
While the terms “wake” and “viewing” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.
Wakes are informal gatherings, usually held at a private home, where the family watches over the body for days before the funeral.
Viewings, on the other hand, are typically held at a funeral home and focus on the viewing of the deceased’s body before the funeral service.
Viewings vs. Funerals
A funeral is a formal service, usually held at a church or funeral home, where close friends, family, and acquaintances of the deceased gather to pay their respects, hear eulogies, and mourn.
Funeral viewings are typically less formal and longer than funerals, but because there is no expectation to stay for the entire duration, many guests spend more time at the funeral than at the viewing.
When are Funeral Viewings Held?
Funeral viewings are typically held before the funeral service, but the timing can vary depending on cultural and religious practices.
Some cultures hold the type of viewing known as a “wake” immediately after the funeral.
What to Expect When Attending a Funeral Viewing
When attending a viewing, you can expect to see the deceased’s body, often in an open casket, and offer condolences to the family. The atmosphere is usually somber but also a time to remember and celebrate the life of the deceased. It is also a time for friends and family to offer support to each other.
How Long Are You Expected to Stay at a Funeral Viewing?
There is no expectation to stay for the entire duration of a funeral viewing. Guests can come and go as they please, and it is considered appropriate to stay for as long as you feel comfortable. However, close family members often stay for the entire duration.
The Bottom Line
Funeral viewings are an opportunity to pay respects, honor the deceased, and offer condolences to the family. They vary in duration and customs around the world but the fundamental purpose remains the same, to say goodbye and express sympathy. You are not expected to stay for the entire duration, but you should stay as long as you feel comfortable.