Today, I attended a wake for a wonderful woman who was my supervisor a few years ago. She passed away on January 3. Her funeral will be on Monday, but I won’t be able to attend. I realized that funerals are things that don’t happen very often so the vocabulary might not be familiar. I’ve highlighted a lot of the words about death but haven’t included definitions. There are some good resources available on the internet though!
The picture above is of the hearse, a long car, like a limousine, which is used to carry the coffin or casket away from the funeral home. The family members standing behind the hearse are called the “pallbearers“, usually 6 close family members or friends, who carry the coffin for short distances. In some cases, other friends and family are called honourary pallbearers. They won’t actually carry the casket. The family is holding a wake for the next 2 days, which means that some people will stay awake through the night, and friends and family will stay together with the deceased until the funeral and burial are complete on Monday. They will have an open casket for people who want to view the deceased. At some funerals, there is a closed casket ceremony, which means that the coffin stays closed and there isn’t a viewing.
In my family, most of my family members were cremated, which means that their bodies were burned, and their ashes were placed in an urn or another small container. Most of my family members have had memorial services, which are like funerals but there is no coffin present. After a funeral, there is usually a burial service at the cemetery. When there has been a cremation, this might be several weeks or even months afterward. Later, a headstone or marker may be placed above the grave. Some of the guests may bring flowers or condolence cards to any of the different ceremonies above. Often, they will hug the bereaved family members and share some special memories about the person who passed away.
Often funerals and memorial services can be sad times because people have lost someone who was close to them. However, there is often a lot of laughter and love at these times, as people share their good memories and they encourage and support each other.
Here’s a listening passage, with vocabulary:
Cemetery: Remembering our Dead (Daily ESL)
Here’s a short video for listening practice, including dictation and captions at the end.