It’s a dangerous time of the year for teen drivers

Texting and driving

Summer’s here, school’s out and young drivers are on the road. This time of year is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” for teens – the days following Memorial Day and lasting until Labor Day when teens are on the roads in the highest numbers of the year. During this period in 2012, nearly 1,000 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers. In fact, on average, 260 teens are killed in car crashes over each summer month – an increase of 26% over the other months of the year.

According to the National Safety Council, possible reasons for the spike in summer crashes include:

  • Summer driving tends to be more recreational and not as purposeful, such as driving to see friends rather than driving to school or work;
  • Teens could be carrying friends more frequently and passengers increase the risk of a fatal crash involving a teen driver by at least 44 percent;
  • Teens may stay out later at night, when crash risk is higher;
  • With warmer weather and clearer conditions, teens may be tempted to speed;
  • More drivers are on the roads.

We ask that parents take the time this summer to remind teen drivers that:

  • Having too many passengers in the car is a dangerous distraction;
  • Cell phones should be put away while they are driving and they should NEVER text while driving;
  • Anything that distracts them from driving is a danger;
  • Impaired driving is not only illegal, it can be deadly.

On July 1, the state of New Hampshire’s hands-free law goes into effect. Under the law, the use of hand-held devices – such as phones, GPS and mp3 players – will be against the law. Hands-free devices – such as those using Bluetooth technology – are permissible. However, drivers under the age of 18 will not be allowed to use any electronic devices while driving, whether they are hands-free or not (unless it is an emergency).

Violation of the law will result in fines, suspension or revocation for teens. But more importantly, using electronic devices while driving can result in death. When texting, a driver is distracted for 5 seconds. To put that in perspective, at 50 mph, you can drive the length of a football field in 5 seconds.

We care about your kids and we love to see them out and about in the community. One place we DON’T want to see them is here at the funeral home, the victim of a fatal crash.

Funeral traditions in Colonial New England

Colonial tombstone

As with so many other things in our daily lives, funeral traditions have changed and evolved over the years. Recently, we talked about Victorian-era funerals and mourning customs; in this blog we’ll look at funeral traditions of Colonial New England, which differed from those of the middle states and the South at the time.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, death was ever present. Half of the Pilgrims died their first winter in the New World; one in 10 children died during their first year of life; 40 percent never reached adulthood. There was disease, lack of food, exposure to the elements and attacks by the natives – all which took their toll on early settlers. According to Digital History, “The tolling of church bells on the day of funerals was so common that it was legislated against as a public nuisance.”

In the 1600s, death was an austere affair; the Puritan’s religious beliefs prevented the expensive and showy funerals that came later in the 18th century and during the Victorian era.

Some customs in Colonial New England:

  • In an effort to turn away from what the Puritans considered idolatrous Catholic rites of their European homelands, no eulogies and sermons were offered at funerals. The funeral service was a mostly silent affair.
  • Written verses or laudatory messages were affixed to the bier, later to be gathered and published.
  • There were two, and sometimes three, sets of the pallbearers. Because the body was carried from the funeral service to the cemetery, which could be a distance away, the younger men – known as under bearers – would carry the bier, while the older men carried the pall, a cloth spread over the coffin. If the cemetery was very far away, a second set of under bearers would be appointed to divide up the physical burden.
  • Caskets were simple oblong boxes and gravestones were humble slabs of stones with an inscription.
  • While other regions buried their dead in graveyards located at churches, most towns in New England set aside land and created common community burial grounds.

Later in the century, funerals became more elaborate, embalming became common and headstones more ornamented. Liquor – in liberal amounts – became a large part of the funeral ritual. In an 1893 book, “Customs and Fashions of Old New England,” Alice Morse Earl wrote of Londonderry, N.H., and surrounding towns settled by Scotch and Irish immigrants:

“… The announcement of a death was a signal for cessation of daily work throughout the neighborhood. Kindly assistance was at once given at the house of mourning. Women flocked to do the household work and to prepare the funeral feast. Men brought gifts of food, or household necessities, and rendered all the advice and help that was needed. A gathering was held the night before the funeral, which in feasting and drinking partook somewhat of the nature of an Irish wake. Much New England rum was consumed at this gathering, and also before the procession to the grave, and after the interment the whole party returned to the house for an “arval,” and drank again. The funeral rum-bill was often an embarrassing and hampering expense to a bereaved family for years.

“This liberal serving of intoxicating liquor at a funeral was not peculiar to these New Hampshire towns, nor to the Scotch-Irish, but prevailed in every settlement in the colonies until the temperance-awakening days of this century. Throughout New England bills for funeral baked meats were large in items of rum, cider, whiskey, lemons, sugar, spices.

“To show how universally liquor was served to all who had to do with a funeral, let me give the bill for the mortuary expenses of David Porter, of Hartford, who was drowned in 1678.

‘By a pint of liquor for those who dived for him………………..        1s.
By a quart of liquor for those who bro’t him home…………….        2s.
By two quarts of wine & 1 gallon of cyder to jury
of inquest ………………………………………………………………        5s.
By 8 gallons & 3 qts. wine for funeral……………………………  £1 15s.
By Barrel cyder for funeral ………………………………………..       16s.
1 coffin………………………………………………………………….       12s.
Windeing sheet …………………………………………………………….18s.’”

  • One custom in Colonial New England was to send as an invitation to the funeral, a pair of gloves to each friend and relative who would attend the funeral. They could be white, black or purple and could often add great expense. For people of prominence, thousands of pairs could be sent out. The minister always got a pair, and it is said that one Boston minister, who kept a record of all of the gloves he was given, was the recipient of 2,940 pairs during his lifetime.
  • It was common for families of the deceased – especially the wealthy ones – to create mourning rings and give them out to family, close friends – and of course the minister. According to Earl, the rings were “gold, usually enamelled in black, or black and white. They were frequently decorated with a death’s-head, or with a coffin with a full-length skeleton lying in it, or with a winged skull. Sometimes they held a framed lock of hair of the deceased friend. Sometimes the ring was shaped like a serpent with his tail in his mouth.” Many were inscribed with a message, such as “Prepared be To follow me,” and were handed down through generations.

As the years passed, the practices became increasingly ostentatious and colony leaders sought to limit the expense and ostentation by levying a 50-pound fine for anyone found distributing wine or rum and funeral rings; restricting gloves to the pallbearers and clergymen; and – in an effort to limit what undertakers could charge for bell-ringing – limiting the number of times a bell could be rung.

You can learn more about the rituals and customs of Colonial New England in “Customs and Fashions in Old New England.”

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Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium has served the public since 1906. We are the largest provider of funeral services in the state, and we operate three full-service funeral homes, two crematories, two non-denominational chapels, and a cremation society. To request a free brochure and planning guide, click here.

Photo credit: Gryffindor


What to do when there’s a death in the family

Mortician advising clients

The death of a family member is a traumatic event and one most people don’t ever want to think about. But what if a family member dies suddenly: Would you know what to do? Having some idea of what to expect will aid you in making arrangements during a very stressful time. Here are a few things you should know:


When death occurs

If the death is unanticipated, call 911. The police will take appropriate steps depending upon the situation. In the case of a non-suspicious death of an apparently healthy individual, the police call the State Medical Examiner’s office and await instructions. If the death was suspicious in nature, then the Medical Examiner will most likely order an autopsy.

A family member should call the funeral home as soon a possible. Staff at the funeral home understand the stress you’re going through and will make sure to make the process as simple and smooth as possible. We will ask some specific questions, such as the name and location of the family member who passed away, the name of the attending physician and the name of the next of kin.

We will ask about the type of service you would like to honor your loved one and celebrate his or her life. However, if you don’t know what type of service you want, you don’t have to make that decision right away. We will set up a later appointment for you to sit down with a staff member and decide upon final arrangements. Think about your loved one and what they would want as well as how you can best honor them.



Transport of the deceased to the funeral home should be arranged after a physician has signed a pronouncement of death, which is required under New Hampshire law. If the State Medical Examiner is to perform an autopsy, transport will be arranged to take place at the completion of the exam, once the medical examiner legally releases the body.

From the nursing home

When a death occurs in a hospital or nursing home, you only have to call us. The medical staff at the health care facility will make sure that all legal requirements are met. While some health care facilities call the funeral home on behalf of the family, most don’t, so it’s best for you to call us directly.

From home

If the deceased had a terminal illness and died at home while under hospice care, the hospice nurse or physician will release the deceased to the funeral home. In this case it’s helpful to think about final arrangements in advance. We can meet with the family prior to the death to begin the process of making arrangements. This cuts down on the number of decisions you will have to make at the time of death and help prevent events from becoming too overwhelming. You can call us or you can start the process by filling out our on-line form.

From out of state

If the death takes place outside of New Hampshire, call us toll free at 1-800-PHANEUF (1-800-742-6383), and we can make all the necessary arrangements without adding the expense of an outside funeral home. We also offer Worldwide Travel Protection that will guarantee the price of your final arrangements no matter where the death occurs.



There are three kinds of written memorials. You may decide on one, two or all three. The first is the death notice, which is a short piece with basic details about the deceased: Who, when and where. This is information for others, about where and when the funeral or memorial service will be held, if there is one. It’s a general notice of death that may be placed in a local paper to serve as a kind of historical record.

The second is the obituary. The obituary has the information from the death notice, but it goes a step further by summarizing the person’s life. When writing an obituary, it’s important to think about what made your loved one special. Think about organizations he or she belonged to, hobbies, work history and awards. Be sure to have accurate information about early life, family and the names and hometowns of family members.

Finally, there is the tribute, which is something you might find online in a remembrance or tribute section. This is the place to recount a funny anecdote or fond memory about the deceased. It’s something that will be read by other people, so write something appropriate and something that will be treasured by the whole family. Our online obituaries offer a place to offer these tributes and memories.



The deceased’s employer, bank, insurance company and attorney should be notified. Important documents should be gathered (for more information on this, see “Important documents to prepare before you die). Digital assets – such as social media accounts – should be deactivated (see “What happens to your digital assets when you die?). Any insurance claims should be filed and the will executed.


After the funeral

Send out thank-you notes to those who offered condolences or helped out in your time of need. Most importantly, remember that the funeral or memorial service isn’t really the end. Continue to celebrate your loved one and remember what made him or her special for many, many years to come.

Should children go to funerals?

Child cemetery funeral

When a friend or loved one dies, you may wonder if it’s appropriate or healthy to take a child to the funeral service. Many experts agree that they should be allowed to attend the service if they are old enough to benefit from the ritual and if they’ve been adequately prepared for what to expect. Grief and loss expert Therese Rando says that people often underestimate their children’s needs when it comes to bereavement – children grieve just as adults do. According to the grief center Mary’s Place:

“As a general guideline, the most helpful thing we as adults can do for our children is to let them participate as fully and completely in the grieving process as possible. To “protect” a child by keeping them from attending the wake, funeral and burial (or equivalent) only closes them off from the process of grieving and healing.”

What children can understand and handle depends on their age, so use age-appropriate terms when discussing deaths and funerals. If a child really does not want to attend the funeral, find out why. The child may have fears or anxieties that need to be addressed. Never force a child to go to a funeral if he or she doesn’t want to go.

The funeral

If you do decide to take your child to a funeral, prepare the child ahead of time. Answer any questions and describe what will happen. What does the room look like? Who will speak? Will the body be viewed? Be detailed so the child is fully prepared and knows what to expect. It’s also helpful to explain why the ritual is important, how it helps us deal with our sadness with the support of others and how it helps us honor the deceased.

According to the American Cancer Society, children may be bewildered at the range of emotions they see from other people: They may see someone crying at the funeral, then later telling stories about the deceased and laughing at the reception. Explain that this range of emotions is a normal reaction to grief.

As to the funeral service itself, explain that it is a somber time and that running around and being loud will not be appropriate. The child should be old enough to sit relatively quiet for the length of the service. If you’re concerned that a child may become disruptive, sit at the back so you can exit quickly and less conspicuously.


Behavior is more important than attire when it comes to funerals and children, but here are some general guidelines:

  • You don’t have to dress the child in black.
  • Girls should refrain from sparkly gowns and holiday attire
  • Avoid worn shoes and tattered sneakers. Closed-toe dress shoes are more appropriate.
  • In general, think sensible, understated and muted when dressing a child for a funeral.

Finally, if you have questions or concerns about taking your child to a funeral service, ask the funeral home staff. They are well-versed in best practices for attending funerals!

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Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium has been serving the public since 1906. We are the largest provider of funeral services in the state, and we operate three full-service funeral homes, two crematories, two non-denominational chapels, and a cremation society. To request a free brochure and planning guide, click here.

Tips for writing a meaningful condolence letter

Condolence letter from Abraham Lincoln

There’s no question that in this age of technology, writing letters is a lost art. That’s a shame when it comes to death and dying, because a personal letter is a great comfort to the bereaved. Take for example, this famous condolence letter from President Abraham Lincoln to Lydia Bixby, who had lost five sons in the Civil War:


Executive Mansion,

Washington, 21st November, 1864.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.

But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln.


With the advent of email and other technological advances, letters are far less common than they used to be. But when someone dies, the best way to convey condolences is through a personal letter.  While there are times a condolence email is appropriate — when the bereaved is a casual acquaintance, or if you’re traveling on business — in most cases, to truly convey your feelings to a friend or family member who has suffered a loss, a letter – or note tucked into a card – is much preferred.  In fact, Emily Post suggests that an email can precede a phone call or written condolence, but should be followed up with a hand-written note.

A hand-written condolence letter is a personal way of acknowledging someone’s grief and offering comfort in a heart-felt way. Old-fashioned? Maybe. But taking a few extra minutes to compose a personal sympathy note will pay tribute to the deceased and provide long-remembered treasured words of comfort to the bereaved.

Here are some guidelines for writing a condolence letter, but the most important thing to remember is to write from the heart: Say what you truly feel.

  1. Send the letter promptly. Write and mail the letter within about two weeks following the loss.
  2. Use your own voice. There’s no need for fancy prose to express simple, genuine sympathy.
  3. Don’t dwell on the deceased’s illness or circumstances of death. Don’t suggest that the death is a blessing or that it was “for the best.”
  4. If you have to send an email, you can find some example of email condolences here.
  5. The components of a condolence letter:
    • Address – if you are unsure to whom you should send the letter, Emily Post has some suggestions.
    • Acknowledge the loss of the person by name.
    • Share a favorite memory or special qualities of the deceased.
    • Offer specific help, if needed, such as babysitting, cooking, or a ride to church.
    • Finish with a thoughtful message, such as “You are in my thoughts.”

It can be hard for some people to express themselves in writing. Fortunately, you don’t have to write like Abraham Lincoln. And if you’re stuck for words, technology can come in handy: You can find some examples of condolence messages on the Internet – such as these from Hallmark. Use them for inspiration and the right words will come to you!

Memorial Day is about more than summer and barbecues

Memorial Day

While it didn’t become a federal holiday until 1971, Memorial Day has been celebrated in some form since the Civil War – although back then it was known as Decoration Day.

Some towns hold parades and memorial services and some head to the cemetery to place flowers on graves, but over the years those activities have become fewer. For many it’s a day off, the official start of summer, filled with barbecues and fun, but the real purpose of the day is to honor the memory of men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Memorial Day started off as a somber day of remembrance; a day when Americans went to cemeteries and placed flags or flowers on the graves of our war dead. It was a day to remember ancestors, family members, and loved ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice.” (

Traditionally, Memorial Day was held on May 30, but was later changed to be observed on the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend. Many have sought to change the holiday back to May 30 to set the day apart from the start-of-summer festivities.


According to, there is a tradition to flying the American flag on Memorial Day. It should be fully raised, then lowered to half-staff until noon. After that it should be raised to full-staff for the rest of the day. When the flag is at half-staff, we remember the 1.1 million men and women who died serving our country; when it is raised to full-staff, their “memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.”

A “National Moment of Remembranceresolution was passed in December 2000 in order to “reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be.” According to the resolution, at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans should pause whatever they are doing for a moment of silence.

Cemetery visits

Visits to the cemetery don’t have to be somber events. Check the cemetery rules ahead of time and follow some basic etiquette rules to maintain reverence and respect:

  • Children should learn that a cemetery is not a playground. They should not run or play on grave markers.
  • Pets should not make the trip to the cemetery unless they are service animals.
  • Don’t blast loud music from your car or music player
  • Obey speed limits.
  • Quiet picnics are usually allowed; please leave the hibachi at home.

Military cemeteries, especially Arlington National Cemetery, have their own rules. Check them before you go.

Ways you can observe Memorial Day

  • Visit the graves of fallen military personnel and leave flowers.
  • Observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m.
  • Fly the U.S. flag (and POW/MIA flag) at half-staff until noon.
  • Visit a war memorial.
  • Pledge to support the families of the fallen and disabled veterans.
  • Attend a Memorial Day parade and pay respects to those soldiers who gave their lives for our country.

Mourning in the Victorian Era

Funeral procession

Today’s funerals are somber affairs, but they can’t compare to funerals and mourning in the Victorian Age. The Victorian-style of mourning came into fashion in the 19th Century (1837-1901) and was probably influenced by the long and public mourning period of Queen Victoria over the death of her beloved Prince Albert. This set the stage for elaborate and prolonged mourning etiquette – and expensive funerals and burials for the upper classes.


Customs and superstitions

When a person died in the Victorian Era, the curtains would be drawn and a wreath with black ribbons was hung on the door to alert people that a death Mourning wreathhad occurred. Because Victorians were quite superstitious, mirrors were covered in black crepe so the spirit of the recently deceased wouldn’t get trapped there. The dead were carried out feet first so their spirit couldn’t look back and beckon to another family member to join them; photos might be turned face down to prevent the living from being possessed by the spirit of the deceased; and clocks would be stopped at the time of death to prevent further bad luck

Some other common superstitions:

  • If the deceased has lived a good life, flowers would bloom on his grave; but if he has been evil, only weeds would grow.
  • You should always cover your mouth while yawning so your spirit doesn’t leave you and the devil never enters your body.
  • It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approaching, turn around.  If this is unavoidable, hold on to a button until the funeral cortege passes.
  • If you smell roses when none are around someone is going to die.
  • If you hear 3 knocks and no one is there, it usually means someone close to you has died.

Anything that belonged to the deceased – jewelry or other items – would be collected and kept as a memento and a reminder of the deceased. Keeping locks of hair as a memento was common and people kept the hair in pins, hair clips, rings and bracelets. Sometimes the hair was even woven into a piece of jewelry.

But most macabre was the memento mori (“remember your mortality”), photos of the deceased that portrayed them in lifelike settings that reflected their personality. Photography at that time was still something of a novelty, but it was accessible and affordable, so the middle class could afford to have a photo keepsake of their loved one. These photos were designed to make the deceased looked as natural as possible. It may seem morbid now, but these photos were all loved ones had of the deceased and were considered prized possessions.



Accepted rules about attire were complicated enough that popular magazines of the time would publish articles that outlined what attire – and how long it Victorian mourning attireshould be worn – was accepted and what wasn’t. An intricate overview of Victorian mourning attire can be found in this period Collier’s article.

Most of the rules pertained to women – men simply wore black suits, black gloves and a black cravat – and depended on the stage of mourning: deep mourning or half mourning. Widows were expected to wear mourning attire for two years. (Mourning periods for other members of the family were much shorter).

During deep mourning women wore dresses made of clack crepe, a crepe bonnet and heavy veil over a white widow’s bonnet, and black kid gloves. Back fur and sealskin were also acceptable.

After three months the widow’s cap could be done away with and after six, the crepe attire. The heavy veil could be exchanged for a lighter one. During the entire period the widow was expected to forego social engagements, with the exception of church; men on the other hand, were expected to go back to work.

The only acceptable jewelry was made of jet, a coal-like minor, although the deceased’s hair may be combined with it. At half mourning, clothing could be gray, mauve or white.


The Funeral

The custom of a wake came about in this era as the body was watched over continuously from death to burial. This was a practical matter as it helped make sure the person was actually dead and not unconscious or in a coma.

Funerals were by invitation.  A working-class funeral could be £5 during a time when a yearly salary was just £20, so poorer families would often make weekly donations to a funeral fund to cover costs. The upper classes had much more elaborate and expensive send-offs that cost much more; £53 for instance, would buy you:

Hearse and four horses, two mourning coaches with fours, twenty-three plumes of rich ostrich feathers, complete velvet covering for carriages and horses, and an esquire’s plume of best feathers; strong elm shell, with tufted mattress, lined and ruffled with superfine cambric, and pillow; full worked glazed cambric winding-sheet, stout outside lead coffin, with inscription plate and solder complete; one-and-a-half-inch oak case, covered with black or crimson velvet, set with three rows round, and lid paneled with best brass nails; stout brass plate of inscription, richly engraved; four pairs of best brass handles and grips, lid ornaments to correspond; use of silk velvet pall; two mutes with gowns, silk hat-bands and gloves; fourteen men as pages, feathermen, and coachmen, with truncheons and wands, silk hat-bands; use of mourners; fittings; and attendant with silk hat-band.”

It was not acceptable for women to attend the graveside service. Tombstones during this era became much more elaborate and were deeply engraved and the tradition of laying flowers began. Often photos would be taken of the flowers and made into a memorial photo.

During this era the funeral industry came into being. Undertakers became commonplace, going to the deceased’s home, procuring the casket and arranging the funeral procession. While today’s funeral is much more of a private affair, the Victorian Era is when many of our contemporary funeral traditions and customs were born.

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Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium has been serving the public since 1906. We are the largest provider of funeral services in the state, and we operate three full-service funeral homes, two crematories, two non-denominational chapels, and a cremation society. To request a free brochure and planning guide, click here.

5 Facts About Cremation

Crematon urn with white rosesWhy cremation? Some people like the idea of a simple funeral process; others prefer cremation to the decomposition process that occurs in a burial. For others, it’s cost; a cremation is often – but not always – less expensive than a funeral and burial in a traditional casket.

For a whatever reason, cremation has been growing in popularity over the past 10 years or so. Even as late as 1998, the cremation rate in the United States was just 28 percent. Today, the number of cremations has surpassed burials, and by 2030, the cremation rate is expected to be over 70 percent. New Hampshire is among the top 10 states when it comes to cremation at almost 72 percent.

Still, many people aren’t really familiar with the cremation process, and may misunderstand the process, which is simple and dignified. If you’d like to learn more about cremation, read on: Here are 5 facts you may not have known:

  • Cremation does not involve fire.
    It’s true: The deceased’s body is placed in a special furnace that reaches extremely high temperatures – 1,500 to 2,000 degrees F. The entire process takes two to three hours, and there is never any flame involved.
  • Cremains are not ashes.
    Cremation reduces the body to bone fragments. Those are placed in a processing machine that makes the fragments a consistent size. The final material – known as cremains – is then placed in a container. Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light gray in color, with a weight of between 4 to 6 pounds for an adult.
  • Most religions allow cremation.
    A few – such as Orthodox Jews and Muslims, Eastern Orthodox and some Fundamentalist Christians – don’t, but most others do. Most Protestant churches accepted cremation in the early 1900s, while the Catholic ban on cremation was lifted by the Pope in 1963.
  • You can only cremate one body at a time.
    You may have heard horror stories about the cremains of loved ones being mixed up with the cremains of other people, but that won’t happen. Not only is it illegal put more than one body in the cremation chamber, most aren’t big enough to fit more than one. Our Peace of Mind cremation process ensures human error is minimized and that the cremains you receive are the correct ones. However, if you would like your cremains to be mixed with those of a loved one, you can get a companion urn created for that
  • Neither a casket nor embalming is required for cremation.
    All that is required by state law is an alternative container constructed of wood to be cremated with the body. Embalming is absolutely not necessary and it’s against the law for a funeral home to tell you otherwise.In addition, you do not have to buy an urn from the crematorium or funeral home, but you do need to provide a container of at least 200 cubic inches that can accommodate the cremated remains.

Want to learn more? Visit our site for information about the cremation process, prices and membership in the Cremation Society of New Hampshire.

Common funeral and cremation terms

Funeral flowers and candle

Not everyone has been to a funeral or has experience with cremation, so when it comes time to make final arrangements for either yourself or a loved one, you may be unfamiliar with some of the terms being used. To help make the process easier, here are 35 common terms that you may come across when making final arrangements:

Apportionment – When cremated remains are divided up between friends and loved ones and, perhaps, for spreading in a specific location.

Arrangement conference – The meeting between the family and a funeral director to discuss final arrangements. The conference is usually held in an arrangement room, but can also be held at the hospital or at home.

At need – Arrangements made at the time of death (as opposed to preplanned arrangements).

Burial certificate or permit – A legal document issued by city and town clerks, authorizing burial, cremation or entombment.

Casket – Also called a coffin, a container made of wood, metal or plastic that holds the deceased’s body. Under federal law, funeral homes are required to accept caskets that consumers have purchased from another source or that you have built yourself.

Certified death certificate – Usually prepared by the funeral home; a legal document filed with the state to verify an individual’s death. A valid death certificate is needed for a family to make insurance claims and collect other death benefits.

Columbarium – A structure that’s similar to a mausoleum, but holds cremains rather than bodies.

Committal Service – Also known as a graveside service; the final part of the funeral service when the deceased is buried in the ground or entombed in a mausoleum.

Cosmetology – The use of cosmetics to give the deceased a more lifelike appearance, especially when there will be a visitation.

Cremains – The cremated remains of the deceased

Crypt – A vault or chamber in a mausoleum that holds the deceased’s remains.

Embalming – A method of preserving and sanitizing the deceased. This is done by injecting an antiseptic preservative through the circulatory system.

Eulogy – A speech of praise given to honor the deceased.

Family Car – The vehicle, often a limousine, dedicated to carrying the family to the service and burial.

Family room – A separate room in the funeral home for the family of the deceased to have some privacy.

Full couch – A casket that is completely open, showing the deceased from head to toe; a half couch is a casket that only opens halfway, showing the deceased from head to waist.

Funeral service – The ceremony, religious or otherwise, that marks the death of an individual.

Grave liner – A container placed in the ground to keep the walls of the grave from caving in. The casket is lowered into the liner at burial. A vault is similar, but more substantial. A grave liner only covers the top and sides of a casket, while a vault surrounds the casket.

Inter – To bury the body of the deceased.

Inurment – To place cremains into an urn.

Mausoleum – An aboveground structure used for placement of casketed remains.

Memorial service – A ceremony held to honor the memory of the deceased; often held without remains.

Next-of-kin – A person who is the nearest relative of the deceased and who is responsible for making decisions about final arrangements.

Pallbearers – A group of individuals who carry the casket. Pallbearers are often friends and relatives of the deceased.

Preplanning – When an individual makes his or her own final arrangements ahead of time. Preplanning doesn’t necessarily require prepayment.

Private service – A service that is by invitation only.

Procession – Also known as a cortege; a line of vehicles that travels between the funeral home or church and the cemetery.

Register – A book in which mourners can record their names at the funeral home when they pay their respects to the deceased.

Reposing room – Where the deceased’s body lies in the casket until the funeral service.

Viewing – Also known as a viewing;  a period of time during which the deceased’s body is displayed at the funeral home, so friends and family can visit and pay respects.

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If you would like more information about funeral or cremation arrangements, we’ll be happy to send you our free brochure and planning guide.

5 Unusual funeral customs from around the world


Jazz funeral

We generally think of funerals as somber affairs, comprised of three components: a wake, a funeral and a burial – or memorial service in the case of cremation.

There are exceptions: In New Orleans, for instance, jazz funerals are both a sad and joyous affair. A jazz funeral is usually held for musicians and blends several cultural traditions – some of which see celebrating death as a way to please the spirits who protect the dead. In a jazz funeral, the band leads the funeral procession, starting with songs of lament and later transitions to more raucous melodies coupled with dancing by mourners.

In the rest of the world, funeral traditions vary greatly and differ from ours in many ways. Dancing at a funeral? In some parts of Madagascar, there is a tradition, known as Famadihana, in which every few years, relatives unbury their dead in order to replace their clothes with fresh ones. The relatives walk the remains of their loved one around the village, play music, drink and dance. Afterwards, they put their dead back in their graves until the next gathering.

In Ghana, funerals are lavish affairs: They generally cost between $15,000 and Ghanaian coffin in shape of a bus$20,000, according to CNN. Billboards are erected to publicize funeral arrangements and Ghanaians often bury their dead in coffins that symbolize what the deceased did for work or something special about him or her. These “fantasy coffins” take all shapes; that can range from an airplane to a Coca Cola bottle, or even a cell phone. In this way Ghanaians mourn, but also celebrate the life of the departed.

In South Korea, where burial space is at a premium, a law was passed that requires families to dig up their dead after 60 years. Because of that, cremation has become much more popular: in fact, more people are now cremated than buried in South Korea. A recent development in the way they treat loved one’s cremains is to have them compressed into colored beads that are then stored in a jar.

Hanging Coffins of Sagada Mountain ProvinceThe Tinguians in the Philippines dress the deceased in his or her best outfit and then seat the body in a chair. The body remains there for several weeks, often with a lit cigarette placed between the lips. In mountainous areas of the Philippines, some cultures still practice the tradition of hanging coffins from high cliffs in order to place the dead closer to heaven.

Funeral rites have been around since the dawn of man and there are as many different traditions as there are cultures in the world. Some cultures leave their dead out in the open, others bury their dead in caves. Many of these traditions seem very odd to us, but then, our traditions may seem very odd to other cultures. The most important thing is that family and friends find the best way to remember loved ones and celebrate their life with dignity and respect – however tradition dictates.

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Phaneuf Funeral Homes & Crematorium and the Cremation Society of New Hampshire can assist you with personal funeral arrangements that meet your needs and customs. For a free consultation, click here.

Photo Credits:

Jazz funeral Derek Bridges/Flickr

Fantasy coffin Daventam/Flickr

Hanging coffins Aldrin J. Garces