Vigil: Holding Hands at the Eleventh Hour

Denise Carson

in Parting Ways

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780520251083
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520949416 | DOI:
Vigil: Holding Hands at the Eleventh Hour

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Vigil is a rite observed usually on the third day. It is called a wake in the Roman Catholic tradition. Family and close friends gather around the deceased for a viewing to say their prayers and goodbyes on the eve of the funeral and burial. Sitting vigil with the dying person is an act of support for the dying partner and for the caregiver. To sit vigil requires the recognition and acceptance of death. It is an act of honoring the final stage of life and helps to create a quiet and peaceful environment for death. During this state of acceptance there are no attempts to resuscitate. Often circles of friends, family, and hospice workers rotate the sittings so as not to overwhelm one individual caregiver. To describe the complexities of the rite vigil, this chapter looks at the life experience of Megory Anderson, a death doula or a spiritual escort to death's door.

Keywords: vigil; death doula; funeral; burial; caregiver

Chapter.  7311 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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