20 Funeral Terms to Know When Funeral Planning

Posted by: Erin Ward in Funeral Planning Resources | July 9

To make funeral planning less stressful, this list of funeral terms can help make things easier on the grieving family. It isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but it will help you get a better understanding of must-know terms before planning the funeral service.


Below are 20 must-know funeral terms in alphabetical order.


  1. Aftercare: Caring for the grieving family after the funeral service is over, such as through counseling, support groups, and memorial events.
  2. Arrangement Conference: When the funeral director and the family sit down together to plan a loved one’s funeral.
  3. Burial: Burying the deceased by above-ground or in-ground burial.
  4. Casket: A container for viewing the body or burying the deceased.
  5. Celebration of Life: A non-traditional service that allows for more personalization.
  6. Cremation: Reducing the body to ashes in a high-temperature environment.
  7. Funeral Procession: The walk or drive to take the deceased to the cemetery.
  8. Funeral Service: An event to honor a life while grieving and supporting one another.
  9. Interment: Burying a loved one’s remains.
  10. Mausoleum: An above-ground burial structure for a loved one’s remains
  11. Memorial Service: An event to pay tribute to a life, such as on their death anniversary.
  12. Natural Burial: When the body is buried without a casket or in a green burial container.
  13. Niche: An above-ground structure for a loved one’s cremated remains.
  14. Scattering: The act of scattering the cremated remains in a memorial garden or another legal location.
  15. Traditional Funeral: A traditional funeral typically has embalming, an open-casket visitation, a funeral service, and a cemetery burial.
  16. Urn: A vessel for a loved one’s cremated remains.
  17. Vault: A grave liner that protects the casket or urn if it’s being buried.
  18. Viewing: When the immediate family members of the deceased attend a private viewing of the body.
  19. Visitation: An event that occurs before the funeral service where family and friends can come pay tribute to the deceased.
  20. Wake: An all-night event with the body present that occurs the night before the funeral service.


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