glossary

Here’s your quick A-Z guide on the common words used in funeral care.

  • Administration - A court appointed member put in charge of the estate of a person who has passed on without a will.

  • Ashes - Cremated remains of a corpse weighs about 2kg.  A cremation chamber fits one coffin, with strict identification procedures.   

  • Attorney in fact - A person granted the power of attorney.

  • Beneficiary - Any recipient of the proceeds of a will or insurance policy.

  • Casket - A casket is a rectangular container designed to hold a body.  It is usually constructed of better quality timbers and feature higher standards of workmanship.

  • Casket Spray or Cover - A large bouquet of cut flowers usually sent to the place of memorial service as a tribute to the deceased.

  • Coffin - Like a casket, the only difference is in design.  A coffin is tapered at the head and foot and is wide at the shoulders. Coffin or casket is really a personal choice.

  • Coroner - A government official who confirms and certifies the death of an individual if it is an unexpected or sudden death. It is the coroner’s role to investigate what happened to the deceased.  If a family doctor can confirm the medical cause of death, then the family doctor signs the relevant papers, and a coroner need not be involved. 

  • Cremation - A regulated process using intense heat in a chamber to burn human remains. It can take up to 2 to 4 hours.

  • Death Certificate - A legal document, signed by a coroner or a medical health professional to certify the death of an individual.  A death certificate is used for many legal processes pertaining to death, from arrangement for interment to the settlement of estate assets.

  • Embalming - A procedure that uses chemicals, such as formaldehyde, to temporarily preserve human remains.

  • Eulogy - Public speaking at funerals used to honour and praise the deceased.

  • Exhume - To dig up human remains, possibly for medical or legal investigation.

  • Funeral Director or Planner - A professional who looks after the care of the body for cremation and burial, supervises burial and associated death care administration.  

  • Funeral Insurance - An insurance policy designed to cover any costs directly related to your funeral.

  • Interment - The act of burying a dead body in a grave.

  • Medical Cause of Death - This is a certificate issued by a doctor stating cause of death.  This is required in order to register a death.  If the death was referred to a coroner,  then the coroner will supply the order advising on disposal of the body.

  • Mortician - A qualified professional who prepares a body for temporary preservative or full embalming.  Whether the body is for burial or cremation, it needs to be disinfected. This reduces the risk of the body becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.

  • Mortuary - Any licensed, regulated business that provides for the care, planning and preparation of human remains for their final resting place.
     
  • Niche - Memorial walls with individual chambers that fits an urn for the cremated remains. 

  • Opening and Closing Fees - Cemetery fees for the digging and refilling of a grave.

  • Pre-planning - Arranging aspects of a funeral in advance.

  • Urn - Any container made for holding cremated human remains.

  • Wake - Nowadays, the term “wake” has a different meaning.  Food is served by the family in an after funeral service wake. Relatives and friends will gather to continue sharing memories of the deceased.   

  • Witness insertion - Witnessing the insertion of the coffin into the cremation chamber.  In Australia, there is a fee charged for witnessing this procedure and must be booked in advance.