Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 12.08.2022

Difference Between A Wake And A Funeral

Difference Between A Wake And A Funeral

Reviewed By: Joshua Siegel

Cross Checked By: William Prout

4 min read

Planning A Funeral For Your Loved One 

The death of a loved one can come as a surprise and leave you feeling empty and melancholic. In all of this, if you’re the one in charge of holding a funeral, the whole process can start to feel overwhelming. Questions like how to go about the funeral planning, what to do before a funeral service, and what comes after- play on your mind while you try to keep the wishes of the deceased in mind.
Here’s a quick guide on how to go about these questions while honoring the wishes of your friends and family members.

Wake Vs. Funeral, What’s The Process? 

Funeral planning comes with traditions and practices that have been set for centuries for us to follow. If your family and your loved one don’t want to go down the traditional route, you can also hold a funeral that feels personal and reflects the personality of the deceased; without being too worried about the traditions.
Usually, a wake is organized for a few hours or even a day or so before you organize the funeral.  A wake is meant to be an informal gathering of sorts, where the family and friends dear to the deceased come together to spend some time with each other. A funeral is a formal get-together where people pay respects to the deceased. Funerals usually have a systematic approach. We’ll get into this in a bit.
If you’re torn between going the traditional route and organizing a personal and customized goodbye get-together, you could consider holding a wake before the funeral.

What Is A Wake?

A wake can be seen as a social event that brings together family and friends that were close to the deceased. A wake could be the funeral planner’s idea or something that the deceased wanted as a part of their funeral planning.
At a wake, you can have a viewing, where the deceased’s body is displayed for his/her/their family and friends. The members can take time to spend with their loved one before saying their final goodbyes.
You can choose a religious or non-religious approach during the wake. If you’re having a viewing, consider buying an open casket. The same casket can bear a lid which can be used during funeral rites. Keep in mind that this is a decision that you and your family members need to make before holding a wake. You do not need to have a viewing of the body. You can also limit the number of guests that attend the wake. The wake also doesn’t need to last for a specific amount of time. You can choose to hold the wake for as long as you want to.

What Is A Funeral And How Do Funerals Work? 

As stated earlier, funerals are a tad bit more formal than a wake. At a funeral, you could choose to go down the religious route; if that’s something the deceased wanted out of the funeral. At a funeral, you have to dress formally and wear dark colors to suggest that you’re in mourning. Of course, all of these understandings of a funeral are privy to change based on what the deceased wanted. At a funeral, there is either a clergy or an important figure present to conduct the service. At a funeral or wake, you can share anecdotes and make speeches for your loved one but you have to remember that you will be addressing a larger audience at a funeral service. Organizing a funeral also requires more planning and execution than a wake. Funeral planning could include things like preparing the guestlist, organizing the food and drinks, buying a casket or coffin, finding a funeral home that can help with the burial or cremation process and collecting the ashes to move to an urn.
Funeral services are usually serious and heavy but you can choose to have a celebration of life service which is more upbeat and cheerful.

What Should You Choose?

When you compare a wake and a funeral, it’s important to realize the purpose of organizing either. Now that you know the difference, prioritize the needs of the deceased and talk to your friends and family members to see what works best for you. Both services are meant to remember and respect your loved one. A wake can feel deeply personal for friends and family members whereas a funeral is for everyone else that would love to pay their respects. You can find checklists of funeral planning online and make your process a little easier. Take the support of your kith and kin!