The habit of watching over those who have died goes back to medieval times. At that time the relatives used to keep the body for an average of three days at home, without the anti-decomposition preparation we know today. They did it to rule out catalepsy, a condition that was caused by tin present in kitchen utensils, dishes and other objects. The catalepsy left the person with no apparent vital signs for several days. For this reason, the relatives preferred to keep the person who supposedly had died several days at home expecting him to recover the vital signs.
Later on, thanks to advances in hygiene and health, the bodies began to be prepared by forensic officials to prevent their rapid decomposition. The wakes were carried out in the homes of the mourners. There, family and friends gathered for the last goodbye, sharing a cup of coffee or chocolate and some refreshments. It was the time to offer comfort to the relatives, honor the deceased’s memory and say goodbye.
On the way to contemporary era wakes were forbidden in homes and nowadays they are carried out exclusively in funeral homes or cemeteries for sanitary reasons.
During the wake or viewing, floral offerings of family and friends are concentrated around the coffin containing the body. The farewell is painful; the assistants talk, give each other mutual support, they cry as a relief and pay tribute to those who have left through the memory of the moments they have lived together.
Funerals and cemeteries offer the sufferer all the necessary to perform the wake in a quiet, intimate and hygienic environment. Once the period that takes an average of 24 hours has ended, they proceed either to the cremation or burial of the physical body.
It is the moment of the last goodbye. Mourners are aware of the fact that they deal with a physical body but that the memory of the loved one who has died will continue to live permanently in the minds of their relatives.