Glossary of Funeral Terms

Funeral Terms


Ashes: The remains of a loved one after they have been cremated.

Association of Green Funeral Directors (AGFD): Green Willow Funerals is a founder member of AGFD. The AGFD helps funeral directors become more green-minded in all aspects of their work, funeral services, and products.

Attended Funeral: Where family and friends physically attend a funeral ceremony/ service of a loved one who has passed away.


Bearer: Someone who carries a coffin at a funeral, usually consisting of 4 or 6 people. Green Willow Funerals will provide bearers at funerals and sometimes family members or friends may request to be a bearer. (Also referred to as a Pallbearer).

Bereavement: An emotional process that all of us go through when experiencing grief following the loss of a loved one.

Bereavement Leave: The time you can take off work when a loved one passes away. You would need to check with your employer to see the amount of time you are entitled to.

Bereavement Support: Available help and support offered by various organisations including charities and counsellors. Learn more about available bereavement support.

Bringing into Care: When a loved one passes, your appointed funeral director will collect your loved one from the location they passed away and transport them to a funeral home where they will rest.

Burial: The process during a funeral where a loved one is lowered into a grave.

Burial Fees: These are the fees that need to be paid when choosing a burial, this can include council-owned cemeteries or other private burial lands.

Burial Ground: Grounds used for burial including council-owned cemeteries, and other private burial grounds.

Burial Plot: This refers to the location and area of land where your loved one will be buried. (Also referred to as a ‘Grave Plot’)


Casket: Typically, a rectangular or square-shaped wooden container that is used for holding ashes. Sometimes a casket can also be used to refer to a particular type of coffin.

Catafalque: When a cremation takes place a coffin will be placed on a stand or plinth, this is called a catafalque which is usually placed behind curtains in a crematorium.

Celebration of Life: This phrase is used to describe the tone of a funeral and to celebrate the life of a loved one in terms of what they have achieved and how they will be remembered.

Cemetery: A large ground where loved ones can be buried, some cemeteries will also be located by a crematorium. (Also referred to as Graveyard).

Certificate for Burial or Cremation: When a loved one dies, you will need to obtain a certificate for burial or cremation. Your funeral director will require this form for your loved one to be buried or for a cremation application to be made. (Also referred to as a Green Form).

Charity Donations: It is quite common for a family to ask for charity donations following the loss of a loved one, sometimes families may ask for charity donations in place of flowers.

Civil Celebrant: Someone who will officiate a funeral service. Civil celebrants provide flexibility allowing you to tailor a funeral service to your loved one’s wishes.

Clergy: Religious officiants at funeral services which can include religious leaders such as ministers, priests, and rabbis.

Coffin: A typically long and narrow container which will hold your loved one during viewings, burial or cremation. Coffins now include many personalisation options such as choice of materials, engravings, and pictures.

Committal Service: This is the last part of a funeral service for both cremation and burial, giving family and friends a last chance to say their goodbyes.

Cortege: A slowly moving line of vehicles typically consisting of a hearse and limousine(s), a cortege may be led by a funeral director walking at the front of a hearse and can be followed by additional family or friends in their vehicles. (Also referred to as a Procession).

Cremation: The process a body will go through whereby it will be exposed to heat and flames leaving ashes behind.

Crematorium: The location where a cremation will take place, crematorium grounds will often feature a lot of greenery and may include a chapel for a service to take place.

Crematorium Fees: These are the fees that need to be paid when choosing a cremation, this can include council-owned or other private crematoriums.


Death Certificate: Following the death of a loved one, in England and Wales you will need to register the death within 5 days, following this you will be able to purchase a death certificate.

Direct Cremation/ Transfer: A direct cremation or direct transfer refers to a cremation or burial that will take place without family or friends present.
(Also referred to as ‘Unattended Funerals’).

Disbursements: This refers to things you may need to pay for outside of a funeral director’s fees, these can include, cremation/ burial/ doctor’s fees, or purchasing items such as keepsakes. (Also referred to as ‘Third-Party Disbursements’).

Doctors’ Fee: A fee payable to a doctor to certify the death of a loved one.


Embalming: A practice used to preserve a body, carried out using specialist embalming fluid, helping to achieve a peaceful appearance.

Environmental/ Eco-Funerals: Funerals that aim to reduce the impact on the environment. Learn more about Environmental Funerals. (Also referred to as ‘Green Funerals’).

Eulogy: A speech or reading given at a funeral service to praise and talk about memories of a loved one as tribute.


Final Place of Rest: When a burial takes place, the final burial place of a loved one is referred to as their final place of rest.

Floral Tribute: Flower arrangements that can be used as part of the funeral, display lettering and flowers left at the burial location of a loved one.

Funeral: A service that can be made personal in many ways and that is carried out to honour the death of a loved one.

Funeral Director: The person who arranges and carries out a funeral. The role of a funeral director includes many different aspects, including providing support and guidance, liaising with families, and handling all administrative duties to ensure a fitting funeral service. (Also referred to as an ‘Undertaker’).

Funeral Home: The location where funeral directors will operate, where families can meet to discuss funeral arrangements or arrange a viewing for their loved ones. Green Willow Funerals has funeral homes in Cardiff, Newport and Dinas Powys. (Also referred to as a ‘Funeral Parlour’).

Funeral Notice: A funeral notice or death notice is used to announce the death of a loved one, these notices can be used online or in local newspapers and can include obituaries. (Also referred to as a ‘Press Notice’).

Funeral Parlour: (see ‘Funeral Home’).

Funeral Plans: These are plans and arrangements that individuals can take out as an easy way to arrange for a funeral in advance. Learn more about Funeral Plans. (Also referred to as ‘Prepaid/ Preplanned Funerals’).

Funeral Service Operative (FSO): These are crucial members of our team, their roles can involve many different elements including driving the hearse and limousine(s) acting as bearers and assisting in many aspects of the setup and running of a funeral.


Grave Plot: (See ‘Burial Plot’).

Grave Purchase: If a grave is not already owned you will need to purchase one, usually at the time of burial. Depending on which cemetery or grounds are used, there are usually many years i.e., 99 assigned to a lease.

Grave Marker: Different to headstones, grave markers are smaller, easier to manage and flat to the ground. Grave markers can also include room for information about your loved one and be made from stone. Some natural burial grounds won’t have any headstones or grave markers and may include GPS coordinates to find your loved one’s place of rest.

Gravestone: A large stone placed on a grave, containing words and information, usually rectangular shaped with a curve at the top. (Also referred to as a ‘Headstone’).

Graveyard: (See ‘Cemetery’).

Green Form: (See ‘Certificate for Burial or Cremation’).

Green Funeral: (See ‘Environmental/ Eco-Funerals’).


Headstone: (See ‘Gravestone’).

Hearse: A hearse is used for most funerals; it is a long vehicle used to carry a coffin and has a high roofline where the coffin can be viewed from many angles. Hearses are usually black, although there are different colours and alternative hearse vehicles available.

Humanist Celebrant: An officiant that provides an alternative to religious ceremonies, used in funerals where a loved one may not have any religious beliefs.

Humanist Funeral: A funeral service that is conducted to honour the memory of a loved one with the inclusion of religious elements. (Also referred to as ‘Non-Religious Funerals’).

Hymn Sheet: Provided at a funeral, containing hymn(s) to be sung at a funeral, hymns may also be included within an order of service.


Interment of Ashes: Where ashes are buried at a permanent location which could be in a cemetery or other private burial ground.


Keepsakes: Various items such as memorial jewellery and remembrance items which can include pendants, necklaces, candle holders and cuddle stones. See our range of keepsakes.


Minister: A religious choice of officiant, when choosing a minister, a service can be provided at a church and/or cemetery/ crematorium.

Mortuary: A mortuary is a room or building where loved ones are hygienically kept before a funeral takes place.


National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD): The NAFD set out high standards for funeral directors to follow, ensuring individuals have compassionate, professional, and experienced funeral directors they can trust. Green Willow Funerals are proud to be a member of the NAFD.

Natural Burial/ Natural Burial Ground: The action of a loved one being buried in a natural environment. There are many natural burial grounds a family may choose for a loved one to be buried, these often have scenic views in woodlands or grasslands.

Next-of-Kin: Refers to a person’s closest living relative, such as a spouse..

Non-Religious Funeral: (See ‘Humanist Funeral’).


Obituary: Often included within a funeral/ press notice, an obituary can solely be written to include a piece about someone who has recently passed, fond memories, what they achieved and why they were loved so much.

Officiant: A qualified person who will host a funeral service.

Order of Service: A printed booklet that contains the structure and content of a funeral service. An order of service can include information about a loved one, photos, details about the funeral, hymns, and prayers.


Pallbearer: (See ‘Bearer’).

Place of Worship: A place with religious meaning such as a church, mosque, or synagogue.

Post-Mortem: A post-mortem, also known as an autopsy, is a medical examination carried out during coroner’s investigations to determine the exact cause of death.

Prepaid/ Preplanned Funerals: (See ‘Funeral Plans’).

Press Notice: (See ‘Funeral Notice’).

Probate: After a loved one has died; probate is the process of administering their estate which can include assets and other types of possessions.

Procession: (See ‘Cortege’).

Professional Fees: These are the fees paid to a funeral director to make funeral arrangements and carry out services.


Register Office: In addition to creating records for births, marriages, and civil partnerships, register offices are also used to register the death of a loved one.

Religious Beliefs: A generic term for someone who follows or practises a particular religion and the beliefs they hold.


Scatter Tubes: A scatter tube (also known as a scattering tube or biodegradable urn) is designed to scatter a loved one’s ashes in a meaningful and environmentally friendly way. See our range of scatter tubes.

Scattering of Ashes: When you scatter the ashes of a loved one in a meaningful or personal place.


Third-Party Disbursements: (See Disbursements).


Unattended Funerals: (See ‘Direct Cremation/ Transfer’).

Undertaker: (See ‘Funeral Director’).

Urn: An urn is a container designed to hold a loved one’s ashes. Urns come in many different shapes, sizes, and design options. See our range of urns.


Viewing: When family or friends wish to see their loved one before a funeral takes place. Green Willow Funerals has private viewing rooms available in Cardiff, Newport and Dinas Powys for families to view and pay respects to their loved ones.


Wake: Also known as a funeral reception, a wake is a chance for family and friends to gather after the funeral has taken place. A wake may take place at a family home or in a private venue and will often include food and drink.

Continue reading