Difference Between Wake and Funeral

Wake vs Funeral

There are different ceremonies associated with the death of a person just as there are ceremonies when he arrives in the world that is his birth. We all want to say a final goodbye to the deceased in the family. There are various ceremonies called wake, viewing, and funeral, depending upon the culture. However, one thing that is common in all parts of the world is to honor the dead person. Most of us have attended the formal ceremony of funeral that is handled by church officials but not all know about wake ceremony. This article attempts to make clear the distinction between an official funeral ceremony and the wake ceremony.


Whenever there is a death in a family, all the near and dear ones are informed, and a gathering is arranged at the house of the deceased so as to allow all friends and relatives to have an opportunity to say a final goodbye to the dead. Wake is a ceremony that precedes funeral as people gather to show their companionship and express their sorrow to the close members of the family of the deceased. This is a ceremony that is also referred to as visitation or viewing in some countries of the world. During wake ceremony, the body of the deceased is usually present inside the house. People come and pay their last respects to the body of the dead person. The origins of wake ceremony can be traced to the practice of being alert and guarding the dead body. With funeral being more formal, wake is considered as important for the purpose of grieving as it gives an opportunity to friends and acquaintances to pay their respects to the dead on a more personal level.


Funeral is a ceremony that is observed after the death of a person and is common across cultures all over the world. However, there are differences in practices and beliefs that accompany a funeral ceremony in different cultures. Many prayers and rituals are a part of funeral ceremonies that are marked by honor and respect for the dead. A funeral is held after the wake ceremony, and it is mostly a religious ceremony with the rituals performed by an official from the church. This official invites members present in the funeral, to say a few words about the deceased. The rituals are mostly to ask for mercy for the soul of deceased and to celebrate the journey of the soul for life after death. Burial of the dead is performed after the ceremony while, in some places funeral is held at the site of the burial.

What is the difference between Wake and Funeral?

• Wake is a ceremony that is held inside the house of the deceased and gives one last opportunity to the near and dear ones to pay their personal respects to the dead body.

• Funeral is an elaborate ceremony that takes place after wake and is conducted by an official from the church.

• Wake is more informal as family and friends gather and leave after paying 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 of wake that is also called visitation or viewing in some countries.

• There are differences in the customs and rituals performed at the two ceremonies.