Understanding Common Funeral Words and Phrases


Understanding Common Funeral Words and Phrases

Funerals are a time of deep emotions, reflection, and remembrance. They are also an occasion that brings together family and friends to honor and celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed away. For many, attending a funeral can be an overwhelming experience, not only because of the emotional weight of the event but also due to the specific language and terminology often used throughout the ceremony. 

Understanding common funeral words and phrases is essential to fully appreciate the depth of the rituals and customs involved. From casket types to burial options, and from eulogies to memorials, we will break down the language surrounding funerals to help you make the most informed choices for your loved one.

Common Funeral Terms to Know

1. Cremains

Cremains is a term that refers to the ashes that remain after a body has been cremated. These ashes typically consist of bone fragments and other remains that have been reduced to a fine powder. Cremains can be stored in an urn, scattered in a meaningful location, or incorporated into various memorial items such as jewelry or art.

2. Crematory, Crematorium

A crematory (also called a crematorium) is a facility where the process of cremation takes place. This specialized facility houses equipment and trained staff to handle the cremation process, which involves the use of high heat and flames to reduce a body to ashes. In many cases, a crematory may be located within a funeral home or cemetery, although standalone crematories also exist.

3. Direct Cremation

Direct cremation is a type of cremation service that does not involve a traditional funeral or any sort of viewing, visitation, or ceremony before the cremation takes place. Instead, the deceased is transported directly to the crematory, and the cremation process occurs shortly thereafter. 

Direct cremation is often chosen for its simplicity and affordability, as it eliminates the need for embalming, a casket, and other expenses associated with a traditional funeral.

4. Embalming

Embalming is a process used to temporarily preserve a deceased body and slow down the natural decomposition process. This is typically done when a family wishes to have an open-casket viewing or visitation, or if there is a delay between the time of death and the funeral or burial service. 

During embalming, a trained professional (called an embalmer) replaces the body’s blood with a preservative solution to slow down decomposition and improve the appearance of the deceased.

5. Funeral

A funeral is a ceremony held to honor, remember, and celebrate the life of a deceased person. Funerals typically involve a gathering of family and friends, a religious or non-religious service, and the burial or cremation of the deceased. Funerals can be highly personalized and may include readings, music, eulogies, and other elements that reflect the life and wishes of the deceased and their family.

6. General Price List

The General Price List (GPL) is a document provided by a funeral home that outlines the costs of various goods and services offered by the funeral home. The Federal Trade Commission requires funeral homes to provide a GPL to anyone who requests one, either in person or over the phone. This document is intended to help consumers make informed decisions about funeral expenses and to compare prices between different funeral providers

7. Pre-Payment, Pre-Arrangement

Pre-payment and pre-arrangement refer to making funeral plans and paying for funeral expenses in advance. This process involves meeting with a funeral director, selecting the desired goods and services, and making financial arrangements to cover the costs. Pre-planning a funeral allows individuals to ensure their final wishes are carried out and can alleviate the burden of decision-making and financial stress for surviving family members.

8. Vault

A vault is a protective outer container that is placed in a grave to hold a casket or urn. Vaults are typically made of concrete, metal, or plastic and serve to protect the burial container from the weight of the earth and heavy cemetery equipment. Some cemeteries require the use of vaults to maintain the structural integrity of the gravesite and prevent the ground from settling or collapsing over time.

The Bottom Line

Understanding common funeral words and phrases can help make the process of planning and attending a funeral less overwhelming. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you can better navigate the various decisions and arrangements that must be made during this challenging time.

At Ashes to Ashes Corporation, we strive to provide compassionate, professional service and to make your loved one’s funeral a meaningful and memorable event. Whether you are planning a traditional funeral service or a cremation service, we are here to assist you. Contact us today to learn more about our funeral services in Los Angeles.


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