Important Funeral Terms to Know

When a loved one passes away, organising their funeral can be stressful while grieving. Dealing with confusing funeral terms can add to the stress. Here are some important funeral terms you might come across. This article doesn’t cover every single funeral term, but we’ve highlighted some important terms that can often cause confusion.


Casketing is simply the process of placing the deceased person’s body in the casket once other processes such as embalming, dressing and cosmetising are complete. A casketed body is ready to be displayed and/or buried.


A celebrant leads the funeral ceremony according to your family or the deceased person’s specific wishes. The main distinction from a minister is that a celebrant generally provides a service without a religious influence. Keep in mind that any person can lead a funeral service. A family member or close friend can fulfil the role of a celebrant if they feel comfortable doing so.

Death Certificate

A death certificate is required by law after a person dies. There are two types of death certificates which are often mistaken for each other.

The first is the Medical Cause of Certificate of Death (MCCD) which is a form completed by the doctor to certify the death. The funeral director will use the MCCD to organise the funeral and to register the death with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

The official death certificate can only be applied for on the day of the funeral. It can take up to two weeks for the Registry Office to process and send the certificate to the funeral home. Once the funeral home receives it, they will notify the next of kin and pass it on.


Embalming involves replacing bodily fluids with chemical fluids. It is optional and typically done in order to:

  • Preserve the body
  • Control infection
  • Enhance the presentation of the deceased

While some funeral homes might insist on embalming, it is usually only used for open casket funerals and when necessary.

Funeral Director

When a loved one passes away, making funeral arrangements can be stressful. A funeral director is there to help take care of many of the processes involved in planning a funeral. Funeral directors play an important support role, offering understanding while you are grieving and guiding you through all the necessary considerations and taking care of the administrative burdens involved in organising the funeral ceremony.

Green Burial

A green burial aims to use practices that are considered eco-friendly. For example, using biodegradable materials in the construction of the coffin, casket or burial containers. The idea is that the body is buried in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition but allows the body to be naturally recycled.

Funeral Services in Western Australia

For more information or advice, please contact Hetherington Funerals on (08) 9459 2846, submit an enquiry on our contact page or look at our funeral services here.