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What is a Vigil?


The act of vigil is described as the event where a person or group stays in a place and quietly waits.

It is often associated with prayer and acts of sacred presencing.


An end-of-life vigil is the act of being with another as they journey towards death and then following the death. Family and significant others gather by the bedside of a dying person in the weeks, days, or hours prior to the death event. They may also create the time and space to sit in reflection following the death of the person.

Our team at Picaluna, enable families to host after-death vigils, extending time with your loved one for intimate home viewing, care-taking and private rituals.

If your loved one dies at home, our end of life doula’s can provide cooling plates to maintain care and integrity. NSW Health regulations can allow a person to stay home after death for up to 5 days.

Should you have someone nearing end of life, who is being cared-for at home, feel free to reach out to Picaluna about the hiring of a cooling bed. By talking with one of our experienced end of life consultants, you will gain a greater understanding of how keeping your person’s body cool enables extension of time at home. This then creates the opportunity for meaningful vigil.

Even if your loved one dies elsewhere, such as in a hospital or nursing home, Picaluna can arrange to bring them home for the family to host a time of vigil before the ceremony. This could be just for the day of ceremony, a few days before, or even for the full duration of their time in care.

Home Vigils

Bringing a person home “one last time” can be a very comforting and healing part of the end of life journey. Even more so, when your person has been in long term care, away from their beloved home. Being in a familiar environment for family and friends, surrounded by personal belongings and mementos, can bring a feeling of pride and satisfaction for those who might consider this gesture fulfilling the final wishes of the person who has died.

Bringing a person home for a vigil or home funeral can also have the benefit of flexibility of time and saving in the cost of venue hire.

During the time of vigil, a number of meaningful activities can be considered to produce a richly creative and nurturing experience for families. These can include:

  • bringing the coffin home to be painted or decorated
  • making a homemade shroud/silk screen burial cloth
  • making your own flower arrangements
  • cooking up family meals and preparing the catering for the celebration
  • sharing in bespoke rites, prayers and song

Private vigils

If holding a viewing or vigil at home is not suitable for your needs, you may like to consider holding a vigil in a meaningful setting or somewhere that offers a gentle space of contemplation. Just like funeral ceremonies, vigils can be held almost anywhere.

This may be a room that is connected to nature in some way, as sometimes, looking beyond your person in a coffin can allow respite for brief moments. Taking your loved one to a venue or location that has personal significance, can also be very comforting in some circumstances.

Consulting with your Picaluna Funeral director, you can receive guidance on the many locations we currently use for such a purpose. They will also be also to share suggestions on simple rituals for a vigil.

Whether honouring your person in quite moments of contemplation at home or elsewhere, a vigil is certainly worth considering as an important step along your journey in healing.

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