After Death: Wake vs. Funeral
Published August 17, 2020
Attending wakes and funerals is something almost all of us will go through. This is just because of how inevitable and abundant death is all around us. Rituals for the dead, as in funerals, date back to the early dawn of civilization. As for wakes, their origins can be traced back to Celtic countries across Europe.
Wakes and funerals regularly go together, and lots of people use them interchangeably. While these two ceremonies seem very similar, they serve different purposes in remembering and celebrating the departed’s life. Let’s get to know them better.
What is a wake?
Wakes are the less formal celebration between the two. They help people in the grieving process, giving them some time to reflect on the departed’s life. Friends and loved ones congregate here to share fond anecdotes and console one another. It’s not uncommon for people to exchange these stories over a light meal at this event.
During wakes, the departed’s body is usually displayed in a casket, either open or closed, for viewing. These are held in the residential homes of immediate family, funeral homes, or social halls of churches. A wake takes place anywhere between a few days to a night before the funeral. Some cultures have wakes that last for several days, while others have them only for a few hours. And depending on culture and religion, they may also hold daily services or mass.
Details and invitation to wakes are frequently posted in obituaries and death notices. Sometimes, the deceased’s family sends out public invitations, allowing anyone to attend.
With wakes being the less formal celebration, attires are the same way. We’d still recommend you dress up a little bit, avoiding brighter colors and sticking to darker ones.
What is a funeral?
After the wake, comes the funeral, usually a week after the death of a loved one. While the general mood surrounding wakes is much lighter, funerals can be much more somber. This is because you’re faced with the bitter reality that this is the last time you will see your loved one.
Funerals are generally held in funeral homes, chapels or churches, or at the gravesite. Whether secular or religious, they’re quite structured. Typically, there will be a speaker to lead the congregation in the program. During this program, close friends and loved ones deliver their eulogies for the departed. Eulogies are speeches that pay tribute to the departed’s life and are delivered by a select few chosen by the family. You can also expect to have hymns and prayers, depending on the religion of the family.
Following the ceremony, the departed loved one’s casket may be lowered into their final resting place. The surviving loved ones may leave flowers on top of the casket before it is buried in the dirt.
For funerals, you should wear more formal attire, as these are the more solemn event. The widely accepted outfits for funerals is a black suit and tie for men and black dresses for women. Of course, some funerals may define the prescribed attire, which you should follow accordingly.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.