Distinguishing Between a Wake & a Funeral

Wake vs Funeral

Different ceremonies are associated with a person’s death, just as there are ceremonies for their birth. People often want to say a final goodbye to their deceased loved ones through various ceremonies like wakes, viewings, and funerals, depending on the culture. The commonality in all parts of the world is to honor the dead person. Most people have attended a formal funeral ceremony handled by church officials, but not everyone knows about wake ceremonies. This article will clarify the distinction between an official funeral ceremony and a wake ceremony.


When a family experiences a death, all close friends and relatives are informed, and a gathering is arranged at the deceased’s house to allow everyone the opportunity to say their final goodbyes. A wake is a ceremony that precedes the funeral, where people gather to show their support and express their sorrow to the deceased’s close family members. This ceremony is also referred to as visitation or viewing in some countries. During a wake, the deceased’s body is typically present inside the house, and people come to pay their last respects. The origins of wake ceremonies can be traced back to the practice of being alert and guarding the dead body. While funerals are more formal, wakes are considered essential for grieving as they offer friends and acquaintances a more personal opportunity to pay their respects to the dead.


A funeral is a ceremony observed after a person’s death and is common across cultures worldwide. However, practices and beliefs accompanying funeral ceremonies vary among cultures. Many prayers and rituals are part of funeral ceremonies, marked by honor and respect for the dead. A funeral is held after the wake ceremony and is mostly a religious ceremony with rituals performed by a church official. This official invites members present at the funeral to say a few words about the deceased. The rituals are primarily to ask for mercy for the deceased’s soul and celebrate the soul’s journey to life after death. The burial of the dead is performed after the ceremony, while in some places, funerals are held at the burial site.

Key Takeaways

  • A wake is a ceremony held inside the deceased’s house, providing an opportunity for loved ones to pay their personal respects to the dead body.
  • A funeral is an elaborate ceremony that takes place after the wake and is conducted by a church official.
  • A wake is more informal, with family and friends gathering to pay their respects. It is more of a practice of guarding or staying alert. Staying awake with the dead body for the entire night may have given rise to this practice, also called visitation or viewing in some countries.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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