Losing a loved one and planning a funeral can be stressful and confusing while grieving. We want to help make funeral planning as simple and meaningful as possible, so this funeral terms glossary can make things a little easier.

This glossary doesn’t cover every single funeral term, but we highlighted some of the most important and easily confused terms.

Funeral Terms A-E

Aftercare — The resources funeral homes provide after the funeral service is over, such as grief counselors, educational seminars, support groups, and remembrance programs.

Arrangement Conference — A meeting between your family and a funeral director to plan a loved one’s funeral service.

At-Need — When your family is planning the funeral services following a loved one’s passing.

Burial — The act of burying the deceased through in-ground or above-ground burial.

Casket — The burial container for a loved one or a container for viewing the deceased.

Celebration of Life — This is similar to a funeral service, but allows for more personalization options and typically doesn’t follow the traditional funeral customs.

Cemetery — Also known as a graveyard, a place where your loved one’s remains are kept for memorialization.

Cremated Remains — Another word for a loved one’s ashes after being cremated.

Cremation — A process of reducing the body to ashes in a high-temperature environment.

Eulogy — A speech shared at a funeral service to tell a loved one’s life story and honor their memory.

Terms F-J

Funeral Director — Also known as mortician or undertaker, a professional who specializes in creating meaningful funerals and helping families cope with grief.

Funeral Procession — The drive or walk to the cemetery for the burial.

Funeral Service — A meaningful tribute to your loved one’s life and an opportunity to begin your grief journey with the support of family and friends.

Headstone — Also known as gravestone or tombstone, a marker with a loved one’s name, birth date, death date, and other decorations to mark their burial location or memorial site.

Interment — The act of burying a loved one’s remains.

Terms K-O

Mausoleum — A structure for the above-ground burial of a loved one’s remains.

Memorial Service — A service to honor a loved one, usually on a significant date such as their birthday or death anniversary.

Natural Burial — A environmentally friendly burial option, also known as green burial, where the remains are buried without a casket or using an eco-friendly burial container.

Niche — An above-ground final resting place for a loved one’s cremated remains.

Obituary — A post to announce your loved one’s passing, share details of their life, and information about their funeral services.

Terms P-T

Preneed — When you plan the funeral services before a loved one’s passing.

Preplanning — The act of planning your funeral before death and making arrangements with a funeral director.

Register Book — A place for funeral attendees to write down their information.

Scattering — When a loved one’s cremated remains are scattered in an ash scattering garden or another meaningful location.

Traditional Funeral — This includes a visitation with an open casket, a funeral service, and burial in a cemetery.

Terms U-Z

Urn — A container for safely keeping a loved one’s cremated remains.

Vault — Also known as a grave liner, outer burial container, or urn vault, a device for protecting the casket or urn for ground burial.

Viewing — A private viewing of a loved one for immediate family members.

Visitation — A time before the funeral service for funeral attendees to express their condolences to the family, view memorial displays, and pay their respects at the open or closed casket.

Wake — An all-night celebration with the body present to honor the loved one’s memory and watch over them before the funeral service the next day.