Difference Between Wake and Funeral

Any death is hurtful, and even though death is the ultimate truth, it is not quite easy to accept and receive without getting hit. As death is inevitable, but life is much bigger than death, the life of the deceased must get relished as well as their good nature. And while paying this homage, we often take the help of two ceremonies, which are wake and funeral. Even though they are very similar and also includes common characteristic, they are two separated rites.

Wake vs Funeral

The main difference between wake and funeral is that wake is an informal visit ceremony for the dead person, which is why it is also known as visitation, while on the other hand, the funeral is a formal as well as a religious ritual that prays for the dead to have a peaceful afterlife. Wake always, without fail, takes place a day before the funeral. Both are meant to respect the life and achievements of the late person.

Wake and Funeral

Wake is like a gathering arranged after the death of a person. It is also called visitation, and in this ceremony, the close friends and family of the late person get a chance to see him/her for one last time. Wake is always arranged before the funeral.

The funeral is a formal as well as a religious gathering where a few rituals get followed. It comes after the day of the wake, and it is meant to pray for the dead’s salvation of the soul and also to show respect towards the dead. Disposition of the body is part of the funeral.

Comparison Table Between Wake and Funeral

Parameters of ComparisonWakeFuneral
Definition Wake is a visitation by the close family for paying homage that happens before the funeral.A funeral is part of the religion, this ceremony is to dedicate honour to the dead person.
Take placeA wake always happens a day before the funeral.A funeral happens a day after the occurrence of the wake.
PurposeWake is for the family to see the dead person and say their goodbyes.A funeral is a religious and formal way to show respect to the dead and his body.
Type of eventWake is a kind of social event.A funeral is a religious event.
RitualsWake does not include any rituals as it is informal visitation by the close family and friends of the dead person.Funeral, being part of religion, includes rituals that have a structure and graveness.

What is Wake?

A wake is a social ceremony. It is a visitation or a gathering that gets arranged after a person’s death. This visitation is organised by the deceased’s family for the purpose of paying respect. It takes place a day before the funeral. Mostly it takes place in the house or some in the funeral home, with and the dead body also exist there for the people to see the dear person for one last time.

In a wake, people rejoice the departed person, his/her achievements and glory. It is a celebration of that person’s life. In some places, it is known as viewing. Formerly, the term wake referred to a vigil or prayer. The concept of wake goes back to the tradition of waiting for the dead person to wake up again. This is why it takes place before the funeral.

What is Funeral?

The funeral is part of the ritual that includes customs, rites and traditions. The bury of the dead’s body happens in this ceremony, and it happens with family and friends. This is the last goodbye to the late person. The customs of the funeral depends on the practices of that culture, and they are not fixed. The customs differ from culture to culture, group to group.

Not only religious but funeral has a legal significance as well. The funeral is a place to mourn for the dead and show support to the rest of the dead’s family. A funeral always comes after the wake. Things like the afterlife, reincarnation are related to this ceremony.

Main Differences Between Wake and Funeral

  1. Wake is a visitation to the dead person and family by the close friends and family for paying homage to the deceased person for one last time. On the other hand, a funeral usually is a part of a religious ceremony.
  2. Wake is a social ritual, whereas a funeral is part of a religious ritual.
  3. Wake is supposed to happen or take place before the funeral, and the funeral always comes after the wake without any exception.
  4. Wake is a personal and informal ceremony, it does not include any rules or rituals to follow, but a funeral is a religious thing that has rituals.
  5. In the wake, people share memories regarding the deceased person. This share is very personal, and rituals have nothing to do with it. But the funeral is for the peace of the soul.
Difference Between Wake and Funeral


If you are confused between the two ceremonies for the deceased, then keep the bottom line in mind that both are meant to be a homage to the close dead person. The close family and friends seek closure through these ceremonies. As said before, both are almost similar in nature, although one can not unsee the differences between the two. They are a place to mourn for the person who passed away.

Sharing precious memories and remembering the person with all his or her glory is the purpose of both. In both ceremonies, people mostly wear black, or other light matt colours as both are meant for mourning. Both are open for close family and people, and they can Attend both to say goodbye to the dead person for one last time. Both the wake and funeral offers closure to the intimate people.


  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/016001769501700307
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20558053
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