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As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

Death Benefits

When a person dies, surviving family members may be eligible for benefits through the Social Security office or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Death Certificate

A death certificate is a document issued by a medical practitioner that certifies the deceased state of a person and declares the date, location, and cause of the person’s death. The death certificate must be filed with the state’s Office of Vital Statistics.

Death Notice

A death notice announces the death of a person. Most often, newspapers and legal registries list them. A death notice differs from an obituary in that it does not include biographical facts or a chronological description of milestones in a person’s life. It is simply a formal announcement of the death of a person and shares funeral service information.


A person who has died.

Digital Assets

Digital assets may include personal email and texts; creative assets such as logos, illustrations, animations, websites, and audio/visual media; digital files such as presentations, spreadsheets, photos, and documents; and online accounts such as online businesses, blogs, subscription services, social media accounts, and networking profiles. This list is not comprehensive but is intended to give you an idea of the array of things that fall under digital assets. Digital Estate is another term for this.

Digital Estate

See Digital Assets.

Digital Executor

A digital executor is a person or online service chosen to act on your behalf in relation to your digital assets after your death. They will distribute or delete your digital assets according to your final wishes as stated in your will. A digital executor should be able to understand and manage the technical aspects associated with digital assets. Ask a capable, trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

Digital Legacy

A digital legacy is created to preserve your digital assets online after your death for future generations.

Direct Burial

A direct burial occurs shortly after death with no formal funeral or committal service. No embalming is necessary since there is no viewing or visitation.

Direct Cremation

A direct cremation occurs shortly after death with no formal funeral or committal service. A funeral service provider oversees the cremation process and later returns the remains to the family.


The act of removing a body from a grave or tomb.


The final process of legally disposing of a deceased body. The most common forms of final disposition are burial and cremation. Other less common forms are burial at sea, alkaline hydrolysis, and anatomical donation.

Display Room

A room in a funeral home specifically for displaying funeral or memorial merchandise. Items include caskets, urns, casket liners, cremation jewelry, and burial/urn vaults.

Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)

This is a legal document that prevents medical personnel from doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to prolong or save your life.

Double Crypt

See Crypt.

Dove Release

At some funeral or memorial services, families perform a dove release. The doves are used to signify “letting go” of grief and embracing love, peace, hope, the soul, and/or The Holy Spirit.


The act of clothing the deceased for burial and/or visitation.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a legal document that gives a person of your choice the power to act on your behalf in relation to your financial or legal matters if you ever become mentally incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

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