Common Funeral Terms – a basic glossary

Having to deal with death is hard, being prepared for the terms that you will hear when you are planning a funeral, can maybe help put your mind at ease, as you can grasp what is being said. Below a basic glossary of some of the terms that you will encounter when planning for a funeral.

BURIAL: Actual placing of the deceased in a grave, mausoleum or a tomb usually in the ground, in a cemetery.

CEMETERY: Also known as a graveyard, is a large burial ground for the deceased. Where graves are marked with headstones to commemorate the lives of the deceased and for loved ones to come visit.

COMMEMORATIVE SERVICE: When the deceased’s body is not present at the service. The service involves honouring the person’s memory.

CREMATION: Opting to have a body burnt and the ashes placed in an urn, where you can choose to scatter the ashes of your loved one at a place of their or your choosing. This is the alternative to being buried.

CREMATORIUM: Building in which the cremation of bodies takes place.

EMBALMING: This is the process of preserving a body by injecting chemicals into he deceased’s veins.

EULOGY: A celebration of the deceased’s life spoken by family and/or friends.

FUNERAL: A ceremony to honour the deceased with friends and family in attendance. Funerals may or may not be religious events.

FUNERAL PROCESSION: Also known as a funeral cortege. This is the convoy of vehicles (mourners) accompanying the hearse from the service to the cemetery.

GRAVE: Dug up earth for placing the remains in of the deceased, usually within a coffin.

HEADSTONE: Also known as a gravestone, commonly made of metal or granite (stone) and it generally includes name, date of birth and death and a short tribute.

HEARSE: A vehicle to carry a casket from the funeral to the burial ground.

OBITUARY (Death notice): A notice that is published in a local newspaper or placed on the Internet. The notice announces the death of a person and provides details about the funeral, lists the family and provides a short account of the person’s life.

PARLOUR: Room in a funeral parlour, where the family and those paying respects come together.

URN: A container in which cremated remains are placed and shared with the family of the deceased.

VIEWING: Enables family and friends to see the body of the deceased in private, usually in a room in the funeral home.

These are some of the common funeral terms you will come across should you find yourself in the unenviable situation of planning a funeral.