GLOSSARY OF FUNERAL TERMS
Alternative Container: An unfinished wood box or other non-metal receptacles without ornamentation, often made of fiberboard, pressed wood, or composition materials, and generally lower in cost than caskets.
Casket/Coffin: A box or chest for burying remains.
Cemetery Property: A grave, crypt, or niche.
Cemetery Services: Opening and closing graves, crypts, or niches; setting grave liners and vaults; setting markers; and long-term maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities.
Columbarium: A structure with niches (small spaces) for placing cremated remains in urns or other approved containers. It may be outdoors or part of a mausoleum.
Cremation: Exposing remains and the container encasing them to extreme heat and flame and processing the resulting bone fragments to a uniform size and consistency.
Crypt: A space in a mausoleum or other building to hold cremated or whole remains.
Disposition: The placement of cremated or whole remains in their final resting place.
Endowment Care Fund: Money collected from cemetery property purchasers and placed in trust for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery.
Entombment: Burial in a mausoleum.
Funeral Ceremony: A service commemorating the deceased, with the body present.
Funeral Services: Services provided by a funeral director and staff, which may include consulting with the family on funeral planning; transportation, shelter, refrigeration, and embalming of remains; preparing and filing notices; obtaining authorizations and permits; and coordinating with the cemetery, crematory or other third parties.
Grave: A space in the ground in a cemetery for the burial of remains.
Grave Liner or Outer Container: A concrete cover that fits over a casket in a grave. Some liners cover the tops and sides of the casket. Others, referred to as vaults, completely enclose the casket. Grave liners minimize ground settling.
Graveside Service: A service to commemorate the deceased held at the cemetery before burial.
Interment: Burial in the ground, inurnment, or entombment.
Inurnment: The placing of cremated remains in an urn.
Mausoleum: A building in which remains are buried or entombed.
Memorial Service: A ceremony commemorating the deceased, without the body present.
Niche: A space in a columbarium, mausoleum, or niche wall to hold an urn.
Urn: A container to hold cremated remains. It can be placed in a columbarium or mausoleum or buried in the ground.
Vault: A grave liner that completely encloses a casket.
(Source: Federal Trade Commission)
RESOURCES THAT MIGHT HELP
A confederation of consumer alliance
A confederation of consumer alliances throughout the United States, the national organization advocates for transparency in funeral planning. The FCA’s website offers links to member groups, monitors industry trends and practices, advocates for legal and regulatory reform monitors pending legislation, and provides a wide selection of useful books and pamphlets for pre-funeral planning.
Find information regarding administrative citations and disciplinary actions for immediate access and the convenience of interested persons. Multiple years of past data are available.
California’s Department of Consumer Affairs has a Cemetery and Funeral Bureau which publishes the “Consumer Guide to Cemetery and Funeral Purchases. Takes complaints from consumers.
California’s alliance of FCAs, advocates for transparency in funeral planning at the state level. Helpful articles and a directory of the state’s affiliates can be found here.
The link shown above will take you to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs' webpage which provides Benefit information for Service-related Death and non-service related Death, Eligibility Requirements, Evidence Requirements, How to Apply (facility locators, e-Benefits, search tools to help you find an accredited representative or agent to help you), and Additional Information.
The FCASMC salutes all our veterans and thanks to them and their families for all the dedication and sacrifices they made for their country and its people.
DOCUMENTS & PUBLICATIONS
Learn how to make sense of a funeral industry-required document that is supposed to be helpful to consumers, but is often time confusing. Learn how to spot Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") violations by the funeral homes and mortuaries.
The Death Made Less Difficult Book, Reverend William C. Sanford, Deceased, FCA Stanislaus Member. Rev. Sanford’s “book” is an organized accumulation of facts and information that he felt would someday “be greatly appreciated by my next of kin.” His work was a useful and practical guide designed to help navigate the many steps involved in saying a final goodbye to a loved one.
Pre-Funeral Planning Worksheets A comprehensive, ten (10) page assembly of worksheets designed to help you plan out your funeral/memorial service, along with space to include in-depth, biographical information to help your eulogist prepare their presentation. Yes, there are ten pages, but only complete what you want! Skip as many lines or sections as you want. These worksheets were prepared to get you thinking so you can help make the implementation of your final wishes that much easier when the time comes. We hope you enjoy reminiscing down memory lane as you complete your sheets.
Before I Go Funeral Planner, Funeral Consumers Alliance, 2000.
Before you go, your survivors should know...
Your Funeral Plans
Where your important papers are located
Banking, insurance, real property, and other financial
Who to call after your death, including your trusted advisors (attorney, insurance agent, financial advisor, physician, etc.)
Who should take care of your pet(s) and how
That you love them enough to leave your affairs in an orderly manner
WHAT DOES THE PLANNER INCLUDE?
In addition to covering the above items, the comprehensive, thirty (30) plus page, end-of-life planner features illustrations by Edward Gorey along with pages to record everything from your preference for burial or cremation to how to close down your social media accounts and online life.
The Planner also includes
Two free chapters from the book Final Rights with consumer funeral and burial rights and rules specific to your state.
A survivor’s checklist of important but often overlooked tasks when death occurs.
A place to record all the biographical information your family will need for an obituary, funeral, or memorial service
Should I (help) Prepare My Own Obituary? YES!, is the handout provided by Judy Sly Herrero, a forty-year veteran of The Modesto Bee and author of hundreds of obituaries at our Annual Meeting on November 5 at the Modesto State Theatre.
ON THE WEB
On February 20, 2018, Christine Colby presented her article in the SMARTER LIVING section of The New York Times to educate her readers about taking charge of your final disposition.
On October 19, 2017, National Geographic posted an article on a group of New Zealanders who have a unique take on final arrangements. Included in the article is the group's YouTube which presents their light-hearted and uplifting attitude toward one's coffin.
(Be sure to view the video in a full-screen format by clicking the full-screen icon found in the lower, right-hand corner of the video screen.)
Tip #1: Annually Review Your Pre-Funeral Planning Worksheet
So that you can be assured that your plans continue to be just the way you want them, it is a good idea to pull out your worksheet once-a-year and review it. That way, if you have changed your mind about one or more parts of your funeral/memorial/celebration of life service you can update your worksheet accordingly. Believe it or not, many people choose their birthday as a time to reflect and review their plans.
Just remember, if you do update your worksheet, be sure to sign and date the new, updated document and provide copies of it to your family members and/or friend(s) whom you have selected to help you. As always, keep your copy for your file.