Dying Matters Week: Many unsure of the definitions of funeral-related words

To coincide with the theme of language for this year’s Dying Matters Week, Funeral Choice has researched the UK’s understanding of funeral terminology.

The funeral experts have identified distinct confusion around the most common funeral terms, which it says could make it more difficult for people to understand their options for those experiencing loss and planning a funeral.

According to Funeral Choice’s new survey of UK adults1, lots are unsure of the definitions of funeral-related words. Funeral Choice asked 2,000 people to identify the correct meaning of eight words and phrases that are involved when planning a funeral, and here are some of the key findings:

  • 41% – or 2 in 5 – don’t know what a direct cremation is; despite it being the fastest growing type of funeral in the UK which offers a simpler, more affordable option. 19% (a fifth) said they had never heard of a direct cremation.
  • 1 in 3 people (33%) don’t know what a hearse is.
  • Over a third (36%) of people are unfamiliar with natural burials; but with eco-friendly funeral options becoming more popular this term will be heard more.
  • Disbursements is the most confusing term in relation to planning a funeral; so people could be surprised with extra and unexpected fees at an already expensive time. It is the most confusing term, as only 13% know the correct definition, and it was the word with the highest number (44%) of people who say they have never heard of it before.
  • Almost a quarter (23%) don’t know that a eulogy is a speech delivered in memory of someone at a funeral.
  • Only 52% knew that a committal is a graveside ceremony where the body or ashes are put into the ground.
  • Almost half (48%) don’t know the term interment and that it means burying a person’s body or ashes.

Alix Baldwin, director of Funeral Choice commented on the survey results:

“Our research highlights a clear need for strong communication between the public and the funeral industry to make sure conversations around death and funerals are transparent; and that the person planning the funeral gets exactly what they intended. We’re committed to clearer communication around funerals to make them accessible for all, and as seamless as possible. Which is why we have created a funeral glossary as an easy-to-follow guide for people.”

Dying Matters Week’s theme on language couldn’t be a more appropriate time to highlight how many of us struggle with phrases and words associated with funerals. It’s unfamiliar to most of us, until the time comes when we need to plan a funeral. Losing a loved one and planning their funeral can already be a difficult time, but these feelings could be amplified when there is a confusion over terminology that can make it difficult to understand choices.”

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