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Frequently Misunderstood Terms To Know When Planning A Funeral

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Planning a funeral is a way to pay tribute to your loved one, and many people consider this challenging task an honor. Knowing terminology that's commonly used for funeral planning can help with communication during the entire process. As you set appointments and make choices for the burial and memorial service, consider these funeral-related terms.

Arrangement Conference

Although this term may sound a bit like a corporate retreat, it simply refers to the meeting where you make the acquaintance of the funeral director and other workers who will be assisting you with the funeral plans for your loved one. The arrangement conference is usually the first step after you have decided on a funeral home and cemetery. Prior to the arrangement conference, the funeral director may speak with you over the phone and request that you bring certain documents to the meeting.


If for some reason your loved one's body is not going to be present at the memorial service or is being placed at a place other than the memorial that's used as part of the funeral, you may become familiar with this term. A cenotaph is simply a monument that may even be a gravestone sort of tribute to someone whose remains are placed elsewhere.

Committal Service

This term frequently confuses people. The committal service is the part of the memorial process that's held just before the deceased person's body is interred. It may also be held before someone is cremated. It's not usually considered a separate service in and of itself. A committal service is usually the ending part of the funeral. Prepared words are often shared about the person's life or how they should be remembered.

Keepsake Jewelry

This term may seem like it applies to a costume jewelry booth at a mall. However, keepsake jewelry refers to something that's becoming more popular at funerals. This type of jewelry is also commonly referred to as memorial jewelry. It is used to describe jewelry that people have created in memory of a loved one who has passed away. Sometimes keepsake jewelry is prepared to hand out to significant loved ones at a funeral.

For example, some people choose to make a bracelet or charm with a special quote or the birthstone of the deceased. They may have one made for every member of the immediate family, then hand the gifts out at the funeral so that people can wear them in remembrance of the loved one.  

Finally, this funeral glossary doesn't cover every term you may hear while planning the funeral, but it provides the basics. Speak to the funeral director about any questions and concerns you have, and they'll be happy to assist you with the planning process.