In my native language (Gujarati) there is a special word for a get together held after someone's death, i.e. બેસણુ - "besnu", typically held between the 2nd to 4th day after death. Is there any word with the same meaning in English?

  • 6
    Cultural concepts may not - often do not - translate well, but some religions do what's generally called "holding a wake". Whether this would be the equivalent to your બેસણુ would depend on the respective cultural implications. – Jeff Zeitlin Nov 3 '17 at 11:48
  • 2
    and it's not a funeral? – MCMastery Nov 3 '17 at 19:01
  • 2
    It depends partly on context; wake and memorial service (and a couple of other possibilities) will have different connotation and significance. If your need is very specific, you may wish to clarify the question; if you're after any potentially relevant similar terms it may be okay to leave it broad but some answers won't suit some possible uses. – Glen_b Nov 4 '17 at 1:50
  • If you're all getting together with the dead person, the term seance might be appropriate. – Sven Yargs Nov 5 '17 at 5:05

In the US, we have a "memorial service" that occurs after death and sometimes instead of a funeral. For example, if the deceased is cremated, instead of a funeral service that includes an automobile processional to the cemetery, a memorial service may be scheduled where the family and friends can gather to honor the deceased. It can be very formal with a religious service and music, or just a eulogy and pictures or slideshow of images of the deceased. The memorial service may or may not include a luncheon afterwards.

  • 3
    Common usage in my cultural circles holds that a wake is a party, a final celebration of the deceased's life by friends and close family, while a memorial is a more somber event with focus on honoring the deceased and grieving together, usually in a larger group including extended family and coworkers. – Tim Sparkles Nov 3 '17 at 19:52
  • 2
    @Timbo - and in my culture (not overly religious, US), a wake is definitely not a party, it's usually held in a funeral home which is a kind of subdued, somber environment and can be carried on for a couple of days, where anyone from family to acquaintances can stop by and extend their condolences to the family. – Kristina Lopez Nov 3 '17 at 20:18
  • 1
    I find this more close to besnu, similar kind of rituals and activities are performed. – Mr.Bhanushali Nov 4 '17 at 6:46

I would call this a wake, which is the get-together held after a funeral.

Different cultures have different customs: in the UK it can actually be difficult to arrange a funeral, with the result that there may be a space of as much as three weeks or more between the death and the service. The wake is invariably after the funeral.

Wake does also refer to "A watch or vigil held beside the body of someone who has died, sometimes accompanied by ritual observances," [Oxford] but as religious observances become less common, this meaning is becoming less common too. Even if a death is accompanied by such a vigil, the get-together after the funeral is also a wake.

  • 10
    I think wake is a good answer but I'd note an Irish wake is invariably before the funeral. See rip.ie/article.php?AID=32 – k1eran Nov 3 '17 at 14:36
  • 5
    Originally wakes came before funerals, since by definition a wake was people gathering around a body to see if the person would wake up or not. – Stephen S Nov 3 '17 at 17:41
  • 7
    @StephenS: That is not correct. The meaning of "wake" is related to "watch" or "vigil". It has nothing to do with expecting the deceased to wake up. – Nick Matteo Nov 3 '17 at 18:18
  • 2
    @Kundor see CateW's answer for explanation of "wake". Just because the word is related to "watch" or "vigil" does not mean that the purpose was not to ensure that the living were not buried by mistake. – Metagrapher Nov 3 '17 at 20:55
  • 1
    @Mr.Bhanushali Not in the UK. The timescales are rather different, Hindu funerals are generally held quickly;but in Britain the get-together after the body has been dealt with is called a wake. – Andrew Leach Nov 4 '17 at 9:10

I agree with those indicating a Wake is the English word that would most closely resemble the description of a get together after someone has died. And, people did fear that their loved ones could be buried alive, well, because it did happen. The trend of staying with the body of the deceased for a 2-3 day period grew out of this hysteria. It was assumed if the person did not wake within 3 days, they were indeed dead. Modern science has negated the need for this 3 day waiting and watching. But a Wake is also about celebrating the life of the deceased. Telling stories of their accomplishments and family.


There is not an exact word which means the same, as different cultures deal with death differently. There are three concepts (two of which were already presented) which comes close.

A Wake is a service, which is typically held. BEFORE the funeral. This is not exactly what you're looking for. This is an informal gathering, where friends and families interact and reminisce. The body is usually laid out for viewing.

A memorial service is often held in place of a funeral, especially when the funeral was held in one area and the departed is from another area or the body is not available for burial. This is a formal event, with little interaction of the attendees.

A bereavement dinner or funeral dinner, is a meal for the attendees of a funeral, typically held after the funeral. It is a time for friends and family to gather, remember the departed and console each other. Of the three related terms, this one is closest in concept to "besnu", since it is after the funeral, allows informal interaction of the attendees (hinted to in the phrase 'get together.'

  • 1
    Not to mention the currently trending "Celebration of Life" service instead of a funeral. This appears to have started in northern latitudes, where burial can be impossible from November to April. – Pieter Geerkens Nov 3 '17 at 19:59
  • @PieterGeerkens, I would categorize that as a memorial service. – Andrew Neely Nov 3 '17 at 20:34
  • 1
    They may be "synonyms"; that doesn't make them identical phrasing. – Pieter Geerkens Nov 3 '17 at 20:41
  • I have never, ever, heard of a "bereavement dinner". What you describe is a wake (at least in the UK). – Andrew Leach Nov 3 '17 at 21:17
  • Please clarify which culture / country your answer is referring to. As others have stated, in British culture (christian or non-religious; I can't speak for other religions), a "wake" is held AFTER the funeral or memorial service, and may be merely an informal get-together of friends & family, or a meal, and/or reminiscences about the dead person. It is NOT a service (in the sense of a religious service). – TrevorD Nov 7 '17 at 18:37

Deferring on culture in reference to term or word. You can call it a "REPASS". Although this is in the Black American community. It can be used just to identify the get together of loved ones following the actual ceremony or memorial service.


In my native language (Gujarati) there is a special word for a get together held after someone's death, i.e. બેસણુ - "besnu", typically held between the 2nd to 4th day after death. Is there any word with the same meaning in English?

condolence meet (शोक सभा)

  • 1
    (1) It’s not necessary or appropriate to quote the question in your answer. (2) I’ve spoken (American) English for many years (and, sadly, I have outlived several friends and relatives), and I’ve never heard of a “condolence meet”. Can you provide a reference or other evidence that this phrase is actually used somewhere? – Scott Feb 3 '20 at 9:18

At "Besnu" traditionally friends, family and well wishers come together at the house or a common place in village/town/city. Besnu word comes from sitting down.

Perfect english word as mentioned in thread above is memorial service. I often use the word "Prayer meet to honor the deceased".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.