Glossary of Funeral Terms

The Ultimate Glossary of Funeral and Related Terms

The majority of terms listed below are UK-orientated, however American terms have been entering the funeral vocabulary over the last few years. These terms are indicated as (USA).

 


 

A
Administrator

see also Executor
The name of the person or position responsible for managing the complete estate of a person that has died if they had not written or completed a Will.

Advance Directive
see also Living Will, Palliative Care
A document or documents recording someone's advance wishes for end-of-life care.

Advance Planning
see also Advance Directive

Aerial Scattering
Scattering of ashes by planes, hot air balloons or other airborne devices (such as drones).

Aftercare
Various services (simple to complex) given by a Funeral Director/Funeral Home, Funeral Celebrant and, or other Professionals to the bereaved.

Alkaline Hydrolysis
see also Water Cremation
A Green alternative to cremation and natural burial. A process of disposing human remains using Lye (Potassium Hydroxide) and heat to speed up the process.  The end result are clean bones (for grinding in to ashes) and a non-toxic water solution (for disposal). A non-heated process takes a longer time for dissolving the body.

Anaerobic burial
see also Natural Burial
Burying of the deceased in an earth grave in which decomposition is hastened due to the lack of free oxygen.

Angelversary
A coined term adopted by bereaved parents that have lost a baby or child. Where the word Anniversary has connotations of a celebratory feel,
Angel Versary, a euphemism for many sums up the angelic feelings of a parent's love-loss.

Arval (Scottish / Norse origin)
A funeral wake or feast where bread and ale are served.

Arrangement Conference (USA)
A meeting between the bereaved, family or representative of the deceased and the Funeral Arranger.

Ashes
see also Cremains, Cremated remains
The remains of a person that has been cremated.

Ashes Casket
Container (usually of wood) for the burial of Ashes.

Autopsy
see also Post-mortem, Pathologist
A complete examination of the deceased (post-mortem) by a Pathologist to determine the cause of death.

 


B

Bariatric Mortuary Fridges
Bariatric mortuary fridges have doors that are up to 2m wide and can take people up to 72-stone. Normal mortuary fridge cabinets are around 75cm wide.

Bearer
see also Pallbearer, Family Bearer, Wheeled Bearers
A Bearer is usually one of either four or six people who carry or help transport the coffin into the church or venue and place on the Bier.  At the end of the service they will carry the coffin back out of the church or venue.

Bier
A moveable (usually) wooden frame the coffin is placed on in a church or venue.  It is usually smaller in the width than a coffin for aesthetic reasons.

Beneficiary
see also Executor, Intestate, Will
A named person in the Will entitled to something; it could be money, property or physical possessions.

Benevolent Fund
A charitable trust or institution (including a body of trustees) to provide or hold funds to provide financial support or relieving poverty amongst a defined set of people or those affiliated with the Fund. It can be applicable to eligible dependents of people who have died.

Bequest
Property or assets given via a will. It can be personal property or real property. When real estate property is left via a will, it is called a devise. Bequeath is the act of making a bequest.

Bereaved
Person or people left behind grieving for a person, close relation or friend that has died.

Bereavement
The experience and feelings of losing someone to death.

Bereavement Allowance
see also Bereavement Support Payment
Welfare benefit for a husband, wife or civil partner that has died. It is not means tested, so is available to anyone regardless of income level working or not.

Bereavement Leave
Full-time employees in companies can take up to three days of paid leave following death of an immediate family member.

Bereavement Support Organization
see also Grief Counsellor
An organization that helps people whom are grieving. To help re-adjust to life as a result of a loss; a loved one or someone close.

Bereavement Support Payment
see also Bereavement Allowance
A Government payment to the surviving partner upon death and monthly payments thereafter up to 21 months.

Biodegradable Urn
Organic and capable of decomposing from 1 to 20 years naturally.

Body Donation
see also Medical Science
Anatomical donation (total body bequest) after death for medical research and eduction.

Book of Remembrance
A book commemorating those that have died. A listing usually in book form of a deceased; name and date of birth of the person on the date they died.

Burial
Placing of the deceased into the ground.

Burial at Sea
The disposal of a body in the ocean. Usually made from a ship or boat. Can be made by Navy personal or private persons.

Burial Club, Burial Society
A friendly Society. Weekly or monthly payments made towards a Funeral Plan.

Burial Fees
Usually consists of,  but not limited to the lease of the burial plot, digging and filling the grave. Other fees could include the crematorium and cremation fees. 

Burial Ground
see also Cemetery
Burial Ground, cemetery or graveyard -  a place where the remains are buried or interred.

Burial Plot
see also Burial Ground
An area assigned for the burial of a deceased person.

Burial Shroud
Also known as burial sheet, grave clothes, mound sheet, winding cloths or winding sheets. A cloth that covers or protects an object.


C

Casket
see also Coffin
A coffin has four sides and is tapered at the shoulder, a casket has six-sides and rectangular in shape. A casket has a hinged lid.

Catafalque
see also Bier, Pall
A raised bier that supports the coffin, casket or deceased's body in for example, a crematorium.

Celebrant Code of Conduct
A set of rules and guidelines Funeral Celebrants agree to adhere to.

Celebrant for Funerals
see also Funeral Celebrant, Civil Celebrant
Funeral celebrant is a non-clergy professional officiating and delivering high quality funeral services and ceremonies. Celebrants for Funerals can be categorized as either Humanist or Civil. Humanists will not incorporate any religious (semi- or reference) poetry, readings or texts in the service where as a Civil Celebrant will, if the bereaved wish, allow references, readings, songs or poetry of whatever description in the service.  The Civil Celebrant will not impose his/her wishes or beliefs. 

Celebration of Life
An uplifting and honest service reflecting the life of the deceased. Penitence, forgiveness or any other religious doctrine and not part of the service.

Cemetery
see also Burial Ground, Graveyard
A Burial ground or grave yard for the sole purpose of burying or interment of the remains of deceased persons.

Cemetery Symbolism
see also Symbols of Faith
Each faith, cult or religion has its own set of symbolism carved onto gravestones, tombs or plaques. Symbolism include such items as a lamb, linked chain, a Cross. Grave symbolism can be traced back to neo-lithic man.

Cenotaph
see also War Memorial
A monument or empty tomb to honour a person or generally a group of people whose body/bodies are elsewhere. For example men and women who have died in wars or conflicts around the world.

Certificate for Burial or Cremation
see also Death Certificate
A certificate the local registrar will issue for the burial or cremation of a body upon death. The certificate registers and proves that the death has been officially registered. It is usually referred to as 'The Green Form' and is given to the funeral director to proceed unless a coroner has been involved and then no form will be issued.

Chapel of Rest
Originally a small chapel at a Grave Yard or cemetery. In modern times, it is usually a room in a funeral home set aside just to view the deceased in their coffin.

Charge Area
The name given to the room where the Cremator is located. The deceased's coffin will be transported from the catafalque to the Charge Area for cremation.

Charging
Placing of the coffin into the cremator for cremation

Charity Donations
Request by the family, bereaved or on their behalf to give a financial donation to an organization, trust or society of their choice.  This can be made in various ways; via the Funeral director, online or in person at the service.

Chief Mourner
In Korean culture, the Chief Mourner generally refers to the person organizing the funeral. Usually the closest to the deceased.

Churchyard
The land surrounding or adjoining a church. Usually reserved for burial.  In Scotland, also known as a Kirkyard.  In Dutch Kerk is a church.

Civil Celebrants
see also Funeral Celebrant, Celebrant for Funerals
Funeral celebrant is a non-clergy professional officiating and delivering high quality funeral services and ceremonies. Celebrants for Funerals can be categorized as either Humanist or Civil. Humanists will not incorporate any religious (semi- or reference) poetry, readings or texts in the service where as a Civil Celebrant will, if the bereaved wish, will allow references, readings, songs or poetry of whatever description in the service.  The Civil Celebrant will not impose his/her wishes or beliefs. 

Closed Casket
see also Open Casket
A closed coffin where the deceased cannot be seen. The opposite being Open Casket. An American style casket has two hinged lids; upper and lower sections.  The upper section is one that usually opens for viewing.

Coffin
see also Casket
A box or cabinet for keeping and viewing a deceased person. Coffins can be used for burial or cremation.

Coffin Club
see also Funeral Club
Social gathering of like-minded people planning ahead and costing their funeral.


Coffin Name Plate
A plate or card that must be displayed on the coffin giving the full name of the deceased, the date of death and their age. 

Coffin Transport
see also Hearse
A vehicle; horse drawn or automobile to transport a coffin containing the deceased.

Colourful Funeral
see also Funeral
Traditionally, the predominant colour has been black.  In the 21th century there is a rise in 'colourful' funerals where black has just about been banned in favour of a brighter colours to remember and celebrate the life of the deceased.

Columbarium
A public storage of urns. It could be a room, a wall or building.

Commemorative Tattoo
see also Cremation Tattoos, Memorial Tattoos, Ritual Tattoos
Small amounts of cremated ashes are infused into tattoo ink. The tattoo needle injects the infused ink with the ashes, into the middle layer of skin creating the colour for the design.

Committal Service
A final service that takes place at either a crematorium or graveside. It is the last goodbye to the deceased. In a crematorium it is (usually) the closing of the curtains and bereaved leaving.  By a graveside it is the final prayers and or readings and the coffin or casket lowered into the ground before leaving the graveside.

Condolence
see also Condolence Cards, Condolence Message
An expression of sympathy for the loss of someone.

Condolence Cards
see also Condolence, Condolence Message
A card expressing sympathy written to someone who has lost a relative, friend or loved one.

Condolence Messages
see also Condolence, Condolence Cards
A card or message expressing sympathy written to someone who has lost a relative, friend or loved one.

Coroner
A government official whose job it is to conduct an inquest into the manner or cause of death of a person. In addition to investigate or confirm the identity of an unknown person found dead within their jurisdiction.  There are 98 Coroners in the UK located in 109 local authority areas.

Cortège
see also Funeral Procession
A solemn procession; often led by a Funeral Director.

Crem Liner
The inner lining of a coffin.

Cremains
see also Ashes, Cremated remains
Combination of two words - 'Cremated Remains'. Commonly referred to as 'ashes'.

Cremated Remains
see also Ashes, Cremains, Cremated remains
Commonly referred to as 'ashes'.

Cremation Chamber
see also Cremator, Crematory, Retort
A purpose built furnace for cremating deceased bodies.

Cremation Jewellery
see also Funeral Jewellery, Remembrance Jewellery
Small amounts of the deceased's ashes placed or made into jewellery such as, a broach, locket, pendant or ring.

Cremation Tattoo
see also Commemorative Tattoos, Memorial Tattoos, Ritual Tattoos
Small amounts of cremated ashes are infused into tattoo ink. The tattoo needle injects the infused ink with the ashes, into the middle layer of skin creating the colour for the design.

Cremator
see also Crematory, Retort, Cremation Chamber
A purpose built furnace for cremating deceased bodies.

Crematorium
A venue or building for the cremation of deceased bodies. The venue or building may contain a chapel for a Celebration of Life service or funeral ceremony.

Crematory
see also Cremator, Retort, Cremation Chamber
A purpose built furnace for cremating deceased bodies.

Cremulator
A mechanical device that grinds bone fragments after cremation in to fine powder. These are known as Ashes or Cremains.

Cryonics
The process of preserving deceased bodies by liquifying a gas to below minus 150 degrees with the intension of reviving them at some time in the future. Cryogenics is the name for the study of very low temperatures often mistakenly for cryonics.

Crypt
A chamber below ground for storing or holding coffins or religious artifacts in churches or religious buildings.

 


D
 

Danse Macabre
see also Dance of Death
A genre of art, music and literature. Dance with death; representing the great equalizer which no one can escape.  Composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote in 1872 his epic symphonic poem Danse macabre in which Death was a fiddler summoning skeletons from their earthly graves to dance at midnight.

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)
Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico which has caught-on throughout many western countries. November 1st is "el dia de los innocentes" (Day of the Children) and All Saints Day. November 2nd is All Souls Day or Day of the Dead.

Death Certificate
see also Medical Cause of Death, Death Notice
A certificate issued by a medical doctor confirming the cause of someone's death.

Death Doula (USA)
see also End of Life Coach, End of Life Guide, End of Life Planner, Death Midwives
A 'Death Doula' is non-medical person (male or female) who has trained to help and care for those coming to the end of their life. The original meaning to the Greek word "Doula" is "Woman's Servant" referring to Birth Doula.

Death Mask
see also Funerary Mask
A mask created in the likeness of a deceased person's face.

Death Notice
An announcement of the death of a person. Usually written by the deceased's family and published in a local newspaper or posted online.

Diener
A Mortuary (morgue) attendant (also referred to as an Autopsy Technician), is responsible for handling, moving and washing the deceased/corpse as well as paperwork administration and in some medical Schools, teaching students autopsy.

Digital Assets
Succinctly defined as 'anything that exists in a digital format and comes with the right to use. Data that do not possess that right are not considered assets' as defined by Wikipedia.

Digital Footprint
Every ones online activity on the Internet (including communications and actions) leave a trail of data (be it from a computer, digital device etc).  This trail can be traced and the user identified.

Digital Immortality
A concept of transferring (or storing) a person's personality, attributes, to a more durable medium such as a computer or digital device.  It is only a concept at this point - not a reality, though a number of scientists think this may be possible. Given AI and its development, the person may be able to learn, develop and grow autonomously.

Digital Legacy
Online digital information that is available written or about the deceased after their death. Digital legacy could include, Social Media information, conversations, blogs, videos and their website.

Digital Will
see Social Media Will

Direct Burial
see also Immediate Burial
The deceased's body is taken from the place of death to a cemetery for burial. In practice, the deceased is taken to a funeral home while the process of a Death Certificate and Burial permit are obtained.Once obtained the burial will then take place.

Direct Cremation
A cremation with no attendees or funeral service performed. The deceased's ashes are returned to the family after cremation for them to hold a ceremony, memorial or service such as a Celebration of Life.

Dirge
A sombre, solemn lament or song conveying mourning or grief.

Disbursements
The costs collected by a Funeral Director on behalf of third-parties such as Funeral Celebrants, florists and others. 

Disposition (USA)
Term to mean how human remains are finally handled - Burial, cremation, entombment and so forth.

DIY Funeral
see also Funeral Directors
A family or personally organized funeral not necessarily using the services of a Funeral Director. Arrangements could include such items as, the type of service, a Funeral Celebrant, coffin, music, readings, poems, transport, flowers and so forth. There is no UK law stating one must use a Funeral Director to organize or conduct a funeral.

Doctor
see also Physician
Medically trained and qualified person/physician authorized to sign a Death Certificate. Doctors may be specialized or General Practitioners.


E
 

Eco-Friendly Funeral
An environmentally friendly (as far as possible) funeral reducing the carbon footprint. This can include but limited to, using a woven or cardboard coffin, a natural burial ground, electric transport, sharing transport, not sending cut flowers.

Embalming
see also Hygienic Treatment
The preservation of human remains by the removal of blood and replacing with formaldehyde-based chemicals (such as glutaraldehyde, methanol, ethanol, phenol,water and various dyes) in order to slow-down or forestall decomposition.

Entomb
see also Inhume
To bury or to inter.

Epitaph
A short inscription or sentiment about the deceased. Examples include, 'Rest in Peace', 'In Loving Memory'.

Estate 
Money and property belonging to the deceased.

Estate Administrator
Title of the person with the responsibility to carry out the wishes of the Will.

Eulogy
A speech or writing giving praise to a person that has died.  Usually given by a Funeral Celebrant, Minister, friend or family of the deceased.

Eulogist
Name given to the person who has written or delivering a Eulogy.

Exclusive Right of Burial (EROB)
When purchasing a burial plot or grave, it is purchasing the right to bury a deceased person into or scattering their ashes onto that plot and not the right anywhere else in the area; only the designated area. That right belongs to the purchaser only.

Executor
A named person in a Will given the responsibility in sorting, organizing and arranging the wishes of the Will.

Exequial
Of or relating to funeral rites or ceremonies. Also a term for a Funeral procession.

Exhumation
The digging up or removal of a body or cremated remains from a grave.


F
 

Family Bearers
Usually family members or friends carrying the coffin.

Floral Tribute
Cut flowers, single or in an arrangement that someone sends to a funeral or graveside. It can also be an arrangement set-up as a display at a memorial or Celebration of Life ceremony.

Forensic Entomology
see also Mortuary Neglect
The study of insects/anthropods in criminal investigations found on decomposed cadavers. It is used to estimate the postmortem index, any physical change in position of the deceased as well as the cause of death.

Full-couch casket
The entire top of the casket is hinged allowing full view of the deceased (head to toe).

Funeral
Anthropologists define a Funeral as the rite of passage. It is a structured service or ceremony leading up to the disposition of the deceased either by burial or cremation.

Funeral Arranger
A person that is usually the first point of contact in a Funeral Home offering support, help and guidance for friends or family of a recently deceased person. They are the contact between the family and the Funeral Home's Funeral Director. They will assemble, collate and liaise with third parties on behalf of the family; such people as the Crematorium, Funeral Celebrant, (or the Church), Caterers, florists, Printers and so forth.

Funeral Attendant
A general term applying to persons that help with the practical aspects and organization of a funeral on the day. Jobs may include being a Pallbearer, driving the hearse, distributing Order of Services, arranging the floral tributes, escorting mourners, as well as acting as ushers in a Crematorium.

Funeral Celebrant
Funeral Celebrant is a non-clergy professional officiating and delivering high quality funeral services and ceremonies. Celebrants for Funerals can be categorized as either Humanist or Civil. Humanists will not incorporate any religious (semi- or any religious references) poetry, readings or texts in the service. A Civil Celebrant will, if the bereaved wish, incorporate references, readings, songs or poetry of whatever description in the service.  The Civil Celebrant will not impose his/her wishes or beliefs. 

Funeral Clubs
see also Coffin Club
A meeting of people interested in talking and planning their own funeral and send-off. It can include talking about various options for an end-of-life celebration as well as funeral costs and practical sessions.

Funeral Coaches
see also Hearse

Funeral Director
see also DIY Funerals, Undertaker
A professional who prepares a deceased person for cremation or burial as well as making the necessary arrangements for funerals.

Funeral Escort (USA)
Persons that escort a funeral procession to the cemetery
 
Funeral Expenses Payment
A Social Security payment from the Government for funeral expenses if on certain benefits already.

Funeral Home
see also Funeral Parlour
A business that provides funeral services for a deceased person.

Funeral Hymn
An uplifting hymn or song.

Funeral Jewellery
see also Cremation Jewellery, Remembrance Jewellery
Small amounts of the deceased's ashes placed or made into jewellery such as, a broach, locket, pendant or ring.

Funeral Notice
A notification of the funeral arrangements for a funeral.  These days Funeral Notices tends to be online via a Funeral Director or dedicated websites. Notices include for example: name of the deceased, time of funeral, date. location and general information such as donation information if applicable.

Funeral Parlour (USA)
see also Funeral Home
A 19th century British term adopted in the USA to mean Funeral Home.

Funeral Plan
Pre-arrangement of a funeral.  Payment can be a lump sum or made in instalments.

Funeral Planning Authority
An organization set-up in 2002 by the industry to regulate the business of pre-paid funerals.

Funeral Procession
Typically a procession of vehicles to the crematorium, church or burial ground followed by a procession on foot by the mourners.

Funeral Service
A service held to memorialize the deceased with their body present in the chapel, church or crematorium (or venue for a Celebration of Life service).

Funeral Spray
see also Floral Tribute

Funeral Train
A train that carries coffins to the place of interment.  Usually assigned to dignitaries and people of high office.

Funerary Mask
see also Funerary Mask
A mask created to cover the face of the deceased in order to honour as well as create a relationship through the mask with the spirit world.


G

Garden of Remembrance
An area of land that has been designed and cultivated with flowers, shrubs and trees to create a peaceful environment for people to commemorate the dead.

General Price List (USA)
The USA Federal Trade Commission has created The Funeral Rule that all American Funeral Directors must abide by. One rule regards pricing.  A Funeral Home must have and on show a price list before talking about, for example caskets and other services. It is illegal for them not to have on show a General Price List.

Grant of Probate, The
see also Probate,

Grant of Representation
A term that refers to Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration. It establishes the right to access and settle the estate of a deceased.

Gratuity
Tips, usually cash given to people that have given a good service.

Grave
An excavated hole of precise width and depth where deceased are interred.

Gravedigger
A labourer that digs graves by hand (as in Natural Burial Grounds) or cemeteries where a mechanical digger may be used.

Grave Liner
see also Outer Burial Container
Also called an "Outer Burial Container" or "Vault". It is made from either metal, concrete or wood; it supports the coffin in the ground as well as the actual grave from collapsing.

Grave Marker (USA)
see also Headstones,Tombestone, Gravestones
A gravestone (Headstone, Tombstone) that is placed at the head of a burial grave to indicate the resting place of a deceased person.

Graveside Service
see also Committal Service

Gravestone
see also Tombestone
A stone, marble or granite slab placed over the top of a grave.

Graveyard
A place where the deceased are buried or have their ashes scattered. Graveyard and cemetery today are interchangeable words having come to mean the same.

Green Certificate for Burial / Cremation
An official form obtained from the Registry Office by the family of the deceased. It is then given to the Funeral Director to confirm a cremation or burial can take place.

Green Funeral
A Green or Natural Funeral strives to be as eco-friendly as possible. This can include (but not limited to) not having the deceased embalmed, selecting a easily degradable coffin (Bamboo, Willow, fabric) or a simple shroud. Non or low carbon footprint transport and so forth.
 

Greenwash, Greenwashing
see also Green Sheen
A ploy from, or used by Green PR and, or Green Marketing companies to deceptively promote their or their client's products, aims, goals and, or policies are environmentally friendly and thus mislead consumers. Originally coined for the clothing/fashion industry but now globally adapted for any misleading environmental claims.
The term was first coined in 1986 by Jay Westerveld, an American environmentalist and researcher.

Green Sheen
see also Greenwash

Grief
An overwhelming emotion. Not solely related to the loss of a loved one. Grief can take many forms from acute pain to mental disorders.

Grief Counsellors
Professionals giving or providing therapy to grieving persons. It is a role of support and guidance through the various stages of grief.

Grief Meditation
A mental state of concentration, relaxation and calmness. There are multiple forms of meditation and grief meditation

Grief Retreat
A place or location to practice mediation with or without others.

Grief Therapy
Support and guidance by Professional Counsellors through the various stages of grief.

Guardian
A person given the authority to care for the property and personal interests of another person.


H

Half-couch casket
The head-end section of the casket opens for viewing of the deceased.  The lower end is closed.

Headstone
see also Gravestone
A marker or stone standing vertically at the head of a grave.

Hearse
A large, often model-adapted motor vehicles (Jaguar, Mercedes, Rolls Royce etc.,) used for the transportation of a coffin, casket or body of a deceased person to a church, crematorium, Natural Burial Ground, wake or memorial service as examples.

Honorarium
An ex gratia payment for services for which fees are not normally required, for example a tip.

Hospice
Hospice care can be either home or facility based care such as a nursing home or dedicated building.  Hospice care is usually given when a patience is diagnosed with a terminally ill condition.

Humanist Funeral
A service or ceremony totally without any reference or mention of any religion or God what-so-ever. Poems, readings, music are totally secular.

Human Tissue Authority
The regulatory body for removal and retention of all human tissue and organs in the UK. The authority makes sure human tissue and organs are used safely and ethically and with correct and proper consent.  The Authority was set up 2005.

Hygienic Treatment
see also Embalming, Temporary preservation
Embalming, Hygienic Treatment and Temporary preservation are interchangeable words with the same meaning.

Hymn Sheet
Words of a hymn printed on paper.


I

Inheritance Tax
Tax paid by the person that inherits money or property from the deceased. Estate tax however, is levied on the the estate of the person that has died.

Inhume
see also Bury,
To bury or to inter.

Immediate Burial
see also Direct Burial
The deceased's body is taken from the place of death to a cemetery for burial. In practice, the deceased is taken to a funeral home while the process of Death Certificate and Burial permit are obtained.

Inquest
see also Coroner, Procurator Fiscal
If a Coroner (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) cannot identify the cause of death, or if the death was violent, happened in a British prison or in Police custody, an inquest must be held.

Irrevocable Contract
In funeral terms, it is a contract solely and ring-fenced for the payment of funeral expenses.

Inter
see also Bury, Inhume
To bury or to inhume.

Interment 
see also Burial

Intestate
A person that dies and has not made a valid Will or binding declaration.

Interment Fees
see also Burial Fees
Fees charged by a church for the rights to a burial and the purchase of a grave.

Inurnment
Putting ashes into an urn and then placing the urn in its ultimate resting place.

 


J

Jazz Funeral
see also New Orleans Style Funeral
The procession followed by a New Orleans -style Jazz band.

 


K

Keepsake
An object, usually owned by the deceased and kept as a memory of the deceased.

Keener
A professional mourner who wails at funerals


L

Lair
see also Grave
The Scottish word for Grave or grave plot.

Last Offices
Procedures usually performed or actioned by a nurse if the deceased has died in hospital. The deceased body is prepared and made ready to go to the morgue. This can include for example, removal of jewellery, dentures, the bladder drained, body washed and so forth.

Last Rites
The last prayers and ministrations given to someone when death is imminent.

Letters of Administration
see also Estate, Administrator, Will
The legal authorization to act as the Administrator to the estate of someone who has died.

Limousine
A term for a vehicle that usually transports mourners in a funeral cortege.

Lot
A burial plot. However, the word Lot is used normally to indicate the burial plot is not occupied.

Living Will
see also Advance Directive, Palliative Care
A document or documents recording someone's advance wishes for end-of-life care.


M

Mass Card
Also known as Mass Offering Card, Memorial Card or Remembrance cards are greeting cards sent notifying people that prayers and a Roman Catholic Mass will be said for the deceased.

Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
Not a Death Certificate, but a form that must be completed by a mwdical professional. This is usually the doctor who cared for the deceased at the time of their death. It officially confirms the date, time and cause of death.  This form is needed to register the death at the Registry Office.

Medical Forms 4 and 5
Both these forms are legally required to release the deceased's body for cremation.   The doctor who cared for the deceased at the time of death must complete Form 4. Form 5 is completed by another and independent doctor with no prior involvement.

Mausoleum
see also Tombs
Derived from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. It is a housing above ground for the holding of tombs. Named after King Mausolus (near modern-day Bodrum in Turkey). His tomb was so large it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Medical Certificate Cause of Death
see also Death Certificate
A certificate issued by a medical doctor confirming the cause of someone's death.

Memorial
Can be public or private; anything dedicated to the memory of someone who has died.

Memorial bench
Usually in a public place - a bench erected in a park, crematorium or place the public visit.

Memorial Jewellery
Jewellery that is either inscribed, made into a design of significance to the deceased or even jewellery containing fragments of the deceased's ashes (cremains).

Memorial Mason
see also Monumental Mason
A stone mason who specializes in making and creating Headstones for graves.

Memorial Service
A service held to memorialize the deceased without their body present in the chapel, church or venue for a Celebration of Life service.

Memorial Tattoo
see also Cremation Tattoos, Commemorative Tattoos, Ritual Tattoos
Small amounts of cremated ashes are infused into tattoo ink. The tattoo needle injects the infused ink with the ashes, into the middle layer of skin creating the colour for the design.

Minister
see also Vicar, Priest, Rabbi, 
A person authorized by a Church or religion to conduct or perform certain functions within their ministry such as funerals.

Mirror Wills
Wills that are created by married couples or partners that are very similar in content. They are usually created in order for the estate to automatically go to the surviving partner upon death of other partner.

Miscarriage
see also Stillbirth
Also called pregnancy loss; the death of a foetus or embryo before it can self-survive outside a mother's womb - usually less than 20-weeks after conception.  Also called a stillbirth.

Monumental Mason
see also Memorial Mason
A stone mason who specializes in making and creating Headstones for graves.

Morgue
A place for the storage of deceased bodies for identification, removal for autopsy or in preparation for cremation/burial.

Mortician
Many Funeral Directors are morticians. Not all morticians are Funeral Directors. Morticians do not make Funeral arrangements. They do however take care of the deceased getting them ready for cremation or burial.

Mortuary
see morgue

Mortuary Neglect
see also Forensic Entomology
In general terms it is defined as an infestation of maggots or other insects of a corpse.

Mourner
Someone attending a funeral.

Mourning Clothes
In traditional Western society, mourning clothes are black. White signifies purity and the liberation of the soul.


N

NVF 
Non Viable Foetus. A non-viable pregnancy is defined as a baby delivered that has no chance of survival out side the womb, even if there is still a heartbeat in the uterus.  This is before 22-24 weeks.

National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
A Funeral Association that sets standards for its members to adhere to  such as codes of conduct, complinat procedures and price transparency policies.

Natural Burial
Burials that follow eco-friendly guidelines; eco-friendly coffins, no embalming, no grave or headstones, no graveside items apart from natural flowers and so forth. Bodies are buried in open meadows or woodlands.

Natural Burial Ground
Also called a Woodland Burial Ground or Green Burial Ground. They follow eco-friendly rules such as carbon neutral footprint, no embalming of the deceased and eco-friendly coffins made of, for example, bamboo, willow or even wrapped in a shroud. There are currently around 300 Natural Burial Grounds in the UK with numbers growing each year.

Nenia
A funeral song written in a elegy format consisting of four lines in couplets (ABAB) rhyming scheme.

New Orleans Style Funeral
see Jazz Funeral

Next-of-Kin
Closest living relative.  If married that would be, for example your spouse.

Niche
A place that holds the remains or cremains of a deceased in for example a columbarium.
 


O

Obituary
A written and published announcement of the death of someone.  Usually published as a news article or in a newspaper Obituary column.

Obsequies
A traditional or formal funeral rite or ceremony.

Officiant
A person who officiates at a ceremony or service such as funeral (burial, cremation or scattering of ashes) wedding or name-giving/baptism. Officiants can be religious (an ordained minister) or Civil.

Order for Burial / Cremation
When a Coroner is involved, an Order for Burial (or Cremation) is used instead of the usual Green Certificate.

Order of Service
A booklet (usually printed and A5 size) given-out at a funeral to attendees. It lists and outlines the order of the funeral service. The Order of Service may include, music, hymns, readings and photographs of the deceased.

Organ Donation
The process of removal and transplantation of an organ to another person. Legally a person can give consent while they are alive, however when a person dies or is dead, the consent or permission must be given by the next of kin.

Ossuary
Latin word defined as an above ground chamber or container that holds the bones of those that have died.

Outer Burial Container
Also called a "Grave Liner" or "Vault". It is made from either metal, concrete or wood; it supports the coffin in the ground as well as the actual grave from collapsing.
 


P

Paging
see also Paging Away

Paging Away
see also Paging, Paging the Hearse

Paging the Hearse
see also Paging, Paging Away, Paging the Hearse

Pall
A decorative drape or cloth covering the coffin during a ceremony or service.

Pall Bearer
see also Bearer, Family Bearer, Wheeled Bearers
A Pall Bearer is usually one of either four or six people who carry or help transport the coffin into the church or venue and places it on the Bier.  At the end of the service they will carry the coffin back out of the church or venue.

Palliative Care
see also Hospice
Emotional and medical care supporting, comforting and helping a person that is dying. Palliative Care can take place just about anywhere but usually in a hospice, hospital or at home.

Partial Death
The notion or theory that as you age, more and more of your friends die and death becomes more real and not a vague idea set in the future.

Pathologist
see also Post-mortem,
Clinical autopsies are carried out by qualified Pathologists. A Pathologist will make complete examination of the deceased (post-mortem) to determine the cause of death.

Pauper's Grave
see also Public Health Funeral
A grave or burial site provided and funded by a local authority. The grave maybe singular or shared.

Physician
see also Doctor
Medically trained and qualified person authorized to sign a Death Certificate. Doctors may be specialized or General Practitioners.

Poems
A carefully crafted collection of words to convey emotions and feelings through meaning, sound and rhythym.

Post Mortem
see also Autopsy, Pathologist, Coroner, Procurator Fiscal, Inquest
A complete examination of the deceased (post-mortem) by a Pathologist to determine the cause of death.

Pre-Arranged Funeral
see also Pre-Need, Pre-Planned Funeral
A funeral that is organized in advance, often but not always by the person themselves. I can be paid in full or on instalments.

Pre-Paid Funeral
see also Pre-Arranged, Pre-Planned Funeral
A funeral that is organized in advance, often but not always by the person themselves. I can be paid in full or on instalments.

Pre-Planned Funeral
see also Pre-Need, Pre-Paid, Pre-Planned Funeral,
A funeral that is organized in advance, often but not always by the person themselves. I can be paid in full or on instalments.

Pre-Need
see also Immediate Need
A funeral that is organized in advance, often but not always by the person themselves. I can be paid in full or on instalments. For Funeral Celebrants, its is defined as seeing, talking and creating a Celebration of Life service or ceremony for the person in advance of their death. The person will have input and be able to create the service they particularly want.

Private Ambulance
Usually a black, unmarked van used by Funeral Directors for transporting  the body of a deceased person from the place of death to the Funeral Home.

Private Funeral
A funeral service that is attended by invitation only. Usually preceding a memorial or Celebration of Life service.

Probate
see also Will
Probate or The Grant of Probate is a legal document that allows the ownership of the deceased's assets to be transferred to the executors in order for them to execute the terms of the deceased's Will. Not all estates need to follow the process of Probate.

Probate Solicitor
A specialist solicitor dealing in Probate; the general administering and administration of a deceased's will, or the lack of a will (Dying intestate)

Procession
People and or vehicles moving in an orderly fashion; formal or in a  ceremonial manner.

Procurator Fiscal (Scotland)
see also Coronor
The Procurator Fiscal as they are known in Scotland (a Coroner in England) investigates the cause of death if someone has died unexpectedly.

Professional Indemnity
see also Public Liability Insurance
Liability insurance covering businesses and individuals from negligence claims.

Public Health Funeral
see also Pauper's Grave
Conducted by local authorities, providing funerals for those with no next-of-kin or are unable or unwilling to pay for and make the necessary funeral arrangements.

Public Liability Insurance
see  Professional Indemnity

 


Q

 

 


R

Registrar
The official government keeper of records.

Registrar's Office
The office of the Registrar.

Remembrance Jewellery
see also Cremation Jewellery, Funeral Jewellery
Small amounts of the deceased's ashes placed or made into jewellery such as, a broach, locket, pendant or ring.

Removals
The colloquial term for the Funeral Home taking the deceased body from where he/she has died to a Funeral Home.

Retort
see also Cremator, Crematory, Cremation Chamber
A purpose built furnace for cremating deceased bodies.

Ritual Tattoo
see also Cremation Tattoos, Commemorative Tattoos, Memorial Tattoos
Small amounts of cremated ashes are infused into tattoo ink. The tattoo needle injects the infused ink with the ashes, into the middle layer of skin creating the colour for the design.

 


S

Sacred Poems / Poetry
Religious themed poetry.

Shroud
A covering cloth around a deceased person's body in preparation for burial or cremation.

Sky Burial
An ancient and sacred Tibetan tradition of cremation. The body is placed on a mountain top to naturally decompose. It is exposed to all the elements. Scavenging animals and particularly carrion birds devour the body in a natural way.

Still Birth
see also Miscarriage
Also called pregnancy loss; the death of a foetus or embryo before it can self-survive outside a mother's womb - usually less than 20-weeks after conception.  Also called a stillbirth.

Social Media Will
A Will written prior to death outlining what you would like to happen with your online accounts - Social media, websites, newsletters and so forth.

Space Burial
A small amount of ashes/cremains are encapsulated and sent into orbit. There are several private companies that specialize in Space Burial.

 


T

Temporary preservation
see also Embalming, Hygienic Treatment
Embalming, Hygienic Treatment and Temporary preservation are interchangeable words with the same meaning.

Thanatology
The scientific study of death, dying, grief, and bereavement.

The Last Post
Bugle call played at military funerals and at remembrance services.

Tombestone
see also Gravestone

Total Extinction
Thanatologist's term for nearing ones own death.


U

Underbearer
A person who helps hold, assists or sustains in bearing the coffin. A Pallbearer helps to hold up the Pall.

Undertaker
see also Funeral Director
A professional who prepares a deceased person for cremation or burial as well as making the necessary arrangements for funerals.

 


V

Valediction
The action of saying goodbye or farewell.

Vigil
A devotional watch or observance conducted during normal sleeping hours.

 


W

Wand
An ornate walking stick held by Funeral Directors when paging the hearse. The 'wand' or stick originates to a time when funerals were attended by mutes. These were men that were paid to stand on guard at the door of a person that had died - fearful of body robbing. The mute would then accompany the cortege to the funeral. A professional Keener.

Water Burial
The disposal of remains (Ashes, Cremains) at sea.

Water Cremation
see also Alkaline Hydrolysis
A Green alternative to cremation and natural burial. A process of disposing human remains using Lye (potassium Hydroxide) and heat to speed up the process.  The end result are clean bones (for the ashes) and a non-toxic water solution (for disposal). A non-heated process takes a longer time for dissolving the body.

Webcast
Most Crematoria in the UK will have either Obitus or Wesley Media Web Cast facilities allowing viewing of the service or ceremony via the Internet from any where in the world.It is a secure and safe system. Funeral Directors will give passwords for access to only those that have been approved or requested by the family of the deceased.  The web cast can be recorded and saved onto a DVD for posterity.

Will
see also Probate, Grant of Probate, 
A Will is a document outlining the wishes of a deceased as to what will happen to their estate after their death.


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Y

 

 


Z