One Depart

Advice & Information on funerals, burials, cremations, wills, inheritance and death-related subjects

Funeral Glossary

Some words associated with funerals and generally surrounding the subject concerning the death of a loved one can be confusing. Here is a short definition of what some of those words mean.

Ashes

The remains of the dead person after being cremated

Bier

A frame on which the coffin or dead body is placed to carry them to the place of burial or cremation.

Casket

An American term for a coffin

Catafalque

A stand (often one that can be moved) on which the coffin is placed in the church. A decorated catafalque is often used to hold the coffin when an important person is lying in state.

Cemetery

A large burial ground, often one that is not in the grounds of a church

Coffin

The box in which the dead person is placed for burial or cremation. It may be made of wood, metal or cardboard.

Condolences

To show sympathy and compassion to a person - usually to one who is grieving the death of a loved one.

Cortège

The funeral procession including people and cars.

Cremains

The remaining ashes after a body has been cremated

Cremation

The burning of a dead person's body until only ashes remain.

Crematorium

The building where cremation of a dead person's body takes place

Dirge

A mournful slow song that is often sung at a funeral service

Embalm

This procedure is taken on by an "embalmer" and it is to preserve a dead person's body using chemicals.

Epitaph

Usually an inscription on a grave, an epitaph is a phrase or poem written in memory of a dead person.

Eulogy

A speech usually delivered by a family member or close friend at the funeral

Executor

The person who has been instructed to carry out the wishes of the person who has died.

Executrix

The same as an executor but in this case is the female version.

Funeral

A ceremony held after someone has died. It can be religious or non-religious and includes taking the body to the place of burial or cremation

Funeral Director

See "undertaker"

Funeral home

The building where a dead person's body is kept prior to a funeral and where it is on display for family members to visit.

Grant of probate

The official legal documents issued to either the Executor or Administrator which certifies they have the authority to deal with the deceased's legal and financial affairs. Find out more about what a grant of probate is and how it works here...

Graveyard

A burial ground that is most often associated with a church.

Hearse

The vehicle which carries the coffin to the funeral.

Inter

To bury a person who has died

Internment

The burial of a dead person

Lay out

Preparation of a dead person's body for viewings prior to burial or cremation

Lay someone to rest

The ceremonial burying of a dead person's body.

Morgue / Mortuary

Where dead bodies are temporarily kept

Mortician

In the UK a mortician is known as an undertaker or funeral director. See "undertaker"

Mourner

Someone who attends the funeral, usually a family member or close friend of the person who has died.

Pall

The coffin in which the deceased's body rests

Pallbearer

One of the people who carries the coffin at a funeral

Pay your respects

Attend the funeral

Probate  

The process of sorting out the financial and legal affairs of a person after they have passed away. 

Shroud

The wrapping of a dead person's body in cloth

Undertaker

Someone who is in the business of funeral arrangement and preparation of the dead body for cremation or burial. Also known as a "Funeral Director". In the US, the term "mortician" is used.

Urn

The container in which a dead person's ashes are kept.

Wake

A gathering of family and friends of a person who has died, usually before the funeral.

Will

A legal document that explains your wishes you would like to have carried out after you have died relating to your money, assets, property or children.

Wreath

An circular arrangement of flowers to put on the grave as remembrance of the person who has died.