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Funeral Planning 101: Important Funeral Terms You Should Know

by | Apr 23, 2019 | For Families

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Losing a loved one and planning a funeral can be stressful and confusing while grieving. We want to help make funeral planning as simple and meaningful as possible, so this funeral terms glossary can make things a little easier.

This glossary doesn’t cover every single funeral term, but we highlighted some of the most important and easily confused terms.

Funeral Terms A-E

Aftercare — The resources funeral homes provide after the funeral service is over, such as grief counselors, educational seminars, support groups, and remembrance programs.

Arrangement Conference — A meeting between your family and a funeral director to plan a loved one’s funeral service.

At-Need — When your family is planning the funeral services following a loved one’s passing.

Burial — The act of burying the deceased through in-ground or above-ground burial.

Casket — The burial container for a loved one or a container for viewing the deceased.

Celebration of Life — This is similar to a funeral service, but allows for more personalization options and typically doesn’t follow the traditional funeral customs.

Cemetery — Also known as a graveyard, a place where your loved one’s remains are kept for memorialization.

Cremated Remains — Another word for a loved one’s ashes after being cremated.

Cremation — A process of reducing the body to ashes in a high-temperature environment.

Eulogy — A speech shared at a funeral service to tell a loved one’s life story and honor their memory.

Terms F-J

Funeral Director — Also known as mortician or undertaker, a professional who specializes in creating meaningful funerals and helping families cope with grief.

Funeral Procession — The drive or walk to the cemetery for the burial.

Funeral Service — A meaningful tribute to your loved one’s life and an opportunity to begin your grief journey with the support of family and friends.

Headstone — Also known as gravestone or tombstone, a marker with a loved one’s name, birth date, death date, and other decorations to mark their burial location or memorial site.

Interment — The act of burying a loved one’s remains.

Terms K-O

Mausoleum — A structure for the above-ground burial of a loved one’s remains.

Memorial Service — A service to honor a loved one, usually on a significant date such as their birthday or death anniversary.

Natural Burial — A environmentally friendly burial option, also known as green burial, where the remains are buried without a casket or using an eco-friendly burial container.

Niche — An above-ground final resting place for a loved one’s cremated remains.

Obituary — A post to announce your loved one’s passing, share details of their life, and information about their funeral services.

Terms P-T

Preneed — When you plan the funeral services before a loved one’s passing.

Preplanning — The act of planning your funeral before death and making arrangements with a funeral director.

Register Book — A place for funeral attendees to write down their information.

Scattering — When a loved one’s cremated remains are scattered in an ash scattering garden or another meaningful location.

Traditional Funeral — This includes a visitation with an open casket, a funeral service, and burial in a cemetery.

Terms U-Z

Urn — A container for safely keeping a loved one’s cremated remains.

Vault — Also known as a grave liner, outer burial container, or urn vault, a device for protecting the casket or urn for ground burial.

Viewing — A private viewing of a loved one for immediate family members.

Visitation — A time before the funeral service for funeral attendees to express their condolences to the family, view memorial displays, and pay their respects at the open or closed casket.

Wake — An all-night celebration with the body present to honor the loved one’s memory and watch over them before the funeral service the next day.

What other funeral terms do you want to know? Share them with us in the comments!


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