How Long After Death Is A Catholic Funeral?

catholic funerals have distinct components guided by the Catholic tradition. These components take place in a given order and are observed the same way across all the mainstream catholic churches. Even though the actual internment takes place a few days after death, there are certain processes that must be followed before the burial. Read on to learn more on how long after death is a Catholic funeral.


preparation for funeral

When a death occurs, the families of the deceased are required to get in touch with both the funeral and the Catholic Church. The decision of when to schedule for services including the burial ceremony is typically arrived at through a consultative exchange between the family, church, and funeral home.

The preparation stage takes a day or two depending on the circumstances of the death and any follow-up activities to be completed with the church or funeral home.


In other contexts, this may be called the wake. Family and friends of the deceased gather at a designated place to pay their last respects to the deceased. The timeframe for the wake varies from one to three days depending on family preferences and the wishes of the deceased.

During the wake, eulogies are read and other tributes. This is important because during the mass or burial, eulogies are not typically not accepted.

Certain catholic traditions are performed by the priest during the wake gatherings. The wake may take a slightly different path in line with the ethnicity and family traditions of the deceased.

Requiem Mass

requiem mass

This stage comes a day after the end of the vigil. The Mass doesn’t have strict specifications as to time or date. With that being said, the wake and the Mass of the Christian Burial cannot be held on the same day.

During the Mass, the body of the deceased is brought out so that the priest can conduct some ceremonies like granting the body absolution. Ideally, family and friends are not allowed to speak at the Mass.

Rite Of Committal

how long after death is a Catholic funeral

When the Mass is over, the body is taken by pallbearers for a graveside service or what is known as the rite of committal. This is a highly private service open to only close friends, family, and spiritual leaders.

After the rite of committal, some families hold gatherings to finalize on pending issues. Others may prefer certain dates in the following days for family and friends to come together for closure.

Therefore, funerals may take anywhere between 2 to 3 days after death. There are some that go up to a week. With more than 80 million Roman Catholics in the United States alone, actual practices may differ slightly with some layered with different ethnic traditions.

In the case of cremation, the Catholic Church prefers that the body be present for all the services and ceremonies before the actual cremation. The celebration of the Funeral Liturgy cannot take place over cremated remains.

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