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What Do I Do During a Visitation or Wake?

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Question: What Do I Do During a Visitation or Wake?

How to act during a visitation or wake

Answer: Many people have no idea what they're supposed to say or do during this solemn and often depressing event. Remember that you're not the only person who feels this way, and no one will judge you on how you act, unless you do something ridiculous to call attention to yourself. Your main purpose in being there is to offer support to the family and close friends of the deceased.

Dress conservatively. In the past, most people wore black or other dark colors to anything related to a funeral. However, that is no longer necessary. You may wear anything that is subdued, unless otherwise requested.

Immediately upon arrival offer sympathy to the family of the deceased. If you are at a loss for words, simply saying, “I’m sorry for your loss,” is appropriate. If you were close to the deceased but do not know the family, you should introduce yourself. If you are close friends with the family, you may have more heartfelt words to say. Viewing the deceased is an option but not necessary. Don’t forget to sign the guest book.

There is no requirement of how long you should stay. The length of your visitation depends more on how long it takes to offer condolences to the family and speak to other visitors. Keep your voice low and avoid outbursts of crying or laughter.

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