Current Affairs

“Celebration over commiseration” for British wakes

According to research issued today, the British tradition of mourning at a wake has undergone a cultural shift, as people “opt to celebrate life to help overcome their grief”.

Almost one in three people (29.73 per cent) see the wake as a time for celebrating life, while only one in nine (11.42 per cent) would organise it for mourning and remembrance. 

The research, conducted by the Co-operative Funeralcare, demonstrated a stark contrast between the young and old. Two out of five youngsters aged 18 to 24 years old (38.21 per cent) would arrange a wake as a celebration of life, whereas older generations (over 55 years old) were almost three times as likely to see it as a time to mourn and mark the passing of a loved one.

For one in five people (18.1 per cent), a social gathering after a funeral remained an opportunity to bring together family and friends.

David Collingwood, operations director of the Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “Funeral traditions are changing across the UK, with more people seeking to celebrate the life of a friend or family member rather than mourn their passing. 

“The wake is being transformed and is now as much about celebration as commiseration. Whereas the wake was always held at home in the past, now it is more commonly held in a pub, social club or hotel.”

Two out of three people would now hire a venue, with pubs, sports or social clubs and village or church halls topping the list. One in 11 (8.47 per cent) people would book a hotel, and almost one in 20 (4.9 per cent) would go to a restaurant.

The research found that on average people were willing to spend £818 on organising a wake, whereas one in 14 (7.24 per cent) people would pay between £1,000 and £3,000. Men were more likely than women to use funds from the deceased’s estate to pay the costs of a wake.  

Organising a wake for religious or cultural reason was on the decline for all age groups, with only one in 50 people arranging a wake for these reasons. Some of the top reasons for organising a wake were: to celebrate the deceased’s life; to bring family and friends together; to mourn and for remembrance; and to pay respects.

 

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