Ask the Undertaker-vocab
To some, funeral service may seem mysterious or spooky; while others do all they can to avoid thinking about the macabre subject. To us, funeral service is a way of life. Ultimately, no matter what you think of (or perhaps in spite of your refusal to consider) funeral service, it is something that everyone must deal with at some point in their life. It is our goal to dispel the myths and do away with the smoke and mirrors. We’d like to open up an honest and truthful dialogue with the community about death and funeral service. With education, any subject that once seemed frightening or daunting can be made clear and understandable. It is our hope that the knowledge we are able to share now will help others when the time comes for them to make final arrangements for a loved one.
So, go ahead, and Ask the Undertaker! If you have a question about death or funeral service, please feel free to email Sue and Brandon from Nasinec Funeral Home in Wells, at email@example.com. Whatever your question may be, we will do our best to answer it honestly and candidly.
To get things started, we have a few vocab words to share. This will give you some basic information on what we do. Hopefully it will also help to clear a few things up for those that find themselves perusing the obituary section:
Funeral Service – A ceremony, usually religious in nature, honoring someone who has died. In an obituary, use of this phrase indicates that the body will be present for viewing.
Memorial Service – A ceremony, usually religious in nature, honoring someone who has died. Use of this phrase indicates that the body will NOT be present for viewing (for example, when the deceased has been cremated).
Mass of Christian Burial – A funeral service for someone who was Catholic. If the deceased was cremated, it would then be a memorial Mass of Christian Burial.
Cremation – A process by which a deceased human body is reduced to ash using open flame and heat.
Embalming – A process to temporarily delay the natural decomposition of a human body. This is done by a licensed mortician, using formaldehyde and other preserving chemicals. The purpose of embalming is to provide the family and friends an opportunity to view their loved one prior to the funeral service, and to give the deceased a more peaceful appearance.
Cremated Remains or Cremains – Commonly referred to as “ashes,” this is what the body is reduced to following the cremation process. Cremated remains are comprised of skeletal fragments, as bone is the only part of the body which does not burn away completely. The bone fragments are then pulverized into the texture of coarse sand.
Interment – In earth burial of human remains, including cremated remains. This is commonly misspelled as “internment.”
Inurnment – Placing of cremated remains into an urn. This is the actual practice of placing your loved one’s ashes into an urn or decorative container. (This would be similar to a body being placed in a casket). You may read this term in some obituaries, as people often mistakenly use it to refer to the interment of cremated remains (interment is Burial).
Urn – Receptacle for cremated remains, usually decorative.
Hearse – Vehicle used to transport a body from the place of death, or to the funeral and burial locations. This is commonly misspelled or mispronounced “hearst.”
Preceded in Death – A list of immediate family who have already died. This is commonly misspelled as “proceeded.”
Pall – A cloth, typically white, that is laid on top of the casket prior to the beginning of the funeral service. It symbolizes and serves as a reminder of the deceased’s Christian baptism.
Pallbearer or Casket Bearer – These two terms can be used interchangeably. Historically, the pallbearers were those who carried or placed the pall on the casket. The term has been modernized to mean the same as “casket bearer,” or those who carry the casket from the church to the hearse, and then to the grave side. Honorary pallbearers are those who have been chosen by the family to be honored in a special way, but will not play an active role in carrying the casket.
Urn Bearer – One who carries the urn during the procession and recession of the memorial service.
Casket – Receptacle for a dead human body. This is the term that is currently in use, and refers to the modernized, rectangular style.
Coffin – An antiquated term for a receptacle for a dead human body. This term refers to a style which is hexagonal, and wider at the head end, and narrower at the foot end. While not common, coffins are still being produced and used in funeral service.
Sue Nasinec is a licensed mortician, and owned Bruss-Heitner Funeral Home in Wells, with her husband Nathan, who is the funeral home’s insurance agent writing pre-need policies. Sue has served this community for over 25 years, and in early 2022, moved the mortuary into the new funeral establishment in the Wells Business Park, thus, renaming the funeral home Nasinec Funeral Home and Crematory in Wells. Brandon Nasinec works at Nasinec Funeral Home, and is currently working his internship to receive his license as a mortician, creating the second generation of our family-owned business.
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