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Top 10 Funeral Terms to Add to Your Preplanning Vocabulary

Preplanning can alleviate a significant amount of stress for both you and your loved ones. To simplify your preplanning experience, here are ten terms to add to your vocabulary.

Taking control of your funeral arrangements doesn't have to be daunting. Preplanning can alleviate a significant amount of stress for both you and your loved ones. To simplify your preplanning experience, here are ten terms to add to your vocabulary. But first, consider the excellent reasons why preplanning is so essential. 

"Set It and Forget It" Mindset

Ask ten friends what they would rather do: make final arrangements or plan their next vacation. Naturally, we want to focus on the pleasant and pleasurable. But we also want to spare our loved ones the agony of making funeral arrangements without knowing our preferences. And we don’t want them to overspend because they feel rushed.

At Afterall, our licensed funeral directors and arrangers have years of experience. They’ve witnessed the profound benefits of making these decisions beforehand. You can find a nearby Afterall provider here. 

Planning ahead lets you:

  • Become the architect of your final journey
  • Making over 100 personal choices for the farewell you envision
  • Relieve your family of the economic and emotional burden of guessing your wishes
  • Protect your finances from rising costs through prepayment plans at today’s prices

Once you make your final arrangements, you can enjoy the “set it and forget it” mindset, knowing that everything is in place when the time comes.

10 Terms To Know for Preplanning

#1: Funeral Celebrant  

A certified professional who can create and conduct a funeral that goes beyond religious boundaries. Whether you wish to incorporate multiple faiths or simply want a service that reflects the unique essence of your loved one, a funeral celebrant can weave together diverse elements. They are skilled in integrating personal stories, favorite songs, and cherished experiences into the funeral or memorial service.

#2: Green Burial

Green burial is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial methods that avoid chemical preservatives, metal caskets, and wooden coffins. In a green burial, the remains are placed directly into the ground, shrouded in cloth, or enclosed in biodegradable containers made from cardboard, wicker, or pine. It's a beautiful way to honor your commitment to the environment even after you've passed on.

#3: Authorizing Agent

An authorizing agent ensures that your wishes are carried out at the time of your passing. Your authorized agent should be a trusted adult over 18 and could be a family member, friend, attorney, or licensed fiduciary. They act as your representative, ensuring your plans are executed precisely as you desire.

#4: Pre-funded Funeral Contract 

With a pre-funded funeral contract, you can secure peace of mind by guaranteeing that there will be no hidden or additional costs for the funeral arrangements you've chosen. This written agreement reassures you that your wishes will be fulfilled without any unexpected financial burdens on your loved ones.

#5:Funeral Coach vs. Family Car

 A funeral coach (hearse) is a dedicated vehicle transporting the casket to the cemetery or burial site. In contrast, a family car transports your loved ones from the funeral home to the graveyard. Knowing the distinction can help you decide about processions and ensure that every detail aligns with your vision.

#6: Cemetery or Burial Plot

This sacred in-ground location will serve as a place where future generations can learn about your life and where your loved ones will come to honor your memory on special occasions. While a cemetery or burial plot traditionally emphasizes a casket burial, you can also bury cremated remains.  

#7: Burial Vault

A burial vault is a container, typically made of wood, brick, or concrete, which encloses the casket and helps prevent the grave from sinking over time. Although some states do not require a vault for burial, many cemeteries have their own regulations and may need an outside container for the casket. It's important to familiarize yourself with these guidelines to make informed decisions.

#8: Mausoleum and Columbarium

A mausoleum is a small, secure building that houses tombs or crypts. Mausoleums offer an alternative to traditional ground burial, providing a serene and dignified resting place for your loved ones to visit and pay their respects. A columbarium is a type of mausoleum specifically designed to store cremated remains. There are small compartments or niches where urns containing the cremated remains are kept. 

#9: Visitation vs. Viewing

A visitation allows loved ones to express their sympathy to your family. The casket may be present during a visitation, but it remains closed. On the other hand, a viewing typically involves an open casket, allowing family and friends to "view" the person who has passed and say their final goodbyes. This ritual can often play a significant role in grief and acceptance.

#10: Memorial Keepsake

A tangible item that serves as a lasting reminder of your loved one, even after the funeral has ended. Families often distribute keepsakes to funeral attendees, such as a favorite candy or seeds for a beloved flower. These mementos provide a unique way to honor and celebrate the life of the person who has passed.

We hope this list of terms helps you feel more confident as you preplan your funeral arrangements. Remember, Afterall is here to support you every step of the way. If you have any questions or need further guidance, please don't hesitate to contact our experienced team. We're always here to assist and provide comfort in your time of need.

For more tips on what you do or don't need for a funeral, take a look at our article: Keeping it Simple? Skip Embalming and These 4 Funeral Extras.

Free Guide to Funeral Preplanning

Get the Afterall Guide to Funeral Preplanning and get help from our experts.