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GLOSSARY

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ADVANCED CARE PLANNING

The process of making a written plan which addresses your future health care needs. It is often incorporated into end of life planning. It allows for a person's values and wishes to be stated along with their choices over medications, treatments and medical interventions.


AFTER-DEATH CARE

A term used in reference to the care of the physical body of a person who has died. Also known as Death Care.


ALKALINE HYDROLYSIS

A process of reduction of human tissue whereby the elements of the body return to a liquid state and placed back into the water cycle.


AQUAMATION

A term used by some companies to describe the process of Alkaline Hydrolysis. See Alkaline Hydrolysis.

 

BETTER DEATH

A better death usually refers to the need to have a more positive or gentle experience than what has previously been the case. This might have to do with agency and a range of choices, a higher level of death literacy, access to medication, equipment or services or anything that would benefit the person dying and their family.


BLENDED FUNERAL

A blended funeral occurs when a family chooses to do some of the organisation and preparation themselves; this may be things like the washing and dressing of their person or the conducting of the ceremony. That family also chooses to work with a funeral director who delivers those components the family does not want to or is not able to do.


BODY

The physical/corporeal form of the human being.


BODY DISPOSAL

This refers to the disposal of the body of a person who has died. There are many ways body disposal can be done. In all cases, the disposal renders the human remains into a safe and manageable form.


BODY/HUMAN COMPOSTING

The process by which the body of a person who has died is reduced to soil. This can take weeks or months, depending on how it is managed. It is also known as Natural Organic Reduction. See Natural Organic Reduction.

 

CASKET

A container designed to hold the body of a person who has died. The container is rectangle shaped; it has the same space at the head end as at the feet end.


CEMETERY

A cemetery is a portion of land set aside for the interment of human remains. This could be body burials or cremated remains. Cemeteries became popular across Europe when burials in graveyards were stopped due to disease.


CEREMONY

A formal or informal gathering of people for the purposes of celebrating a person's life and honouring their death. Often a ceremony is led by a celebrant or representative of a community group or religion, but it does not have to be.


COFFIN

A container designed to hold the body of a person who has died. The container is wider at the top and tapers to a narrower width at the feet end.


COMMUNITY

Community refers to a group of people joined by a common bond. It may be a cultural or religious affiliation, a shared passion or hobby or even an activity undertaken together.


COMMUNITY CAPACITY

The ability, skills and knowledge within a group of people to successfully complete a set of actions and tasks with confidence, lend support to each other while doing so and pass those skills onto others.


COMMUNITY DEATH WORKER

This refers to any person working in the community, in or around death. This could include but is not limited to nurses, doulas, allied health workers, therapists, advocates or people involved with any other area of end of life and death.


COMPASSIONATE COMMUNITIES

A model of community care whereby community members are trained and engaged to look after each other through a well-developed network of communication channels and services.


CONTAMINATION

Soiled, stained or otherwise made unfit for contact or use. In relation to the dead this can also mean infection.


CONTEMPORARY/CURRENT FUNERAL

A modern approach to a funeral service. See Funeral.


CONTEMPORARY FUNERAL INDUSTRY

This term refers to the standard funeral industry as it exists in contemporary society.


CORPSE

The physical/corporeal remains of the human form of a person who has died. Also called a Dead Body.


CREMAINS

The human remains of a person which have undergone the process of cremation. See Cremation.


CREMATION

The process of using heat and flame to reduce the body of a person who has died into ‘ashes’.

 

DEAD BODY

The physical/corporeal remains of the human form of a person who has died. Also called a Corpse.


DEATH DOULA

The American term for what in Australia we call an End of Life Doula. See End of Life Doula.


DEATH CARE

A term used in reference to the care of the physical body of a person who has died. Also known as after-death care.


DEATH LITERACY


The level of knowledge and awareness of end of life options, processes, systems and choices available. It refers to the skill set and knowledge a person has to navigate the death system. Death Literacy is a term coined by Dr. Kerrie Noonan of the Death Literacy Institute.


DEATH POSITIVE

Death Positive refers to a way of approaching a person's end of life, the conversations and decisions therein. It generally indicates an openness to honest and transparent conversations about death and end of life across various contexts such as treatment options, funeral planning and palliative care.


DEATH PRACTITIONER

This refers to any person working in or around death. This could include, but is not limited to, funeral directors, doulas, morticians, embalmers, advocates, people involved with palliative care or involved in any other area of end of life and death.


DEATH SYSTEM

The death system is an umbrella term that refers to all the different facets, services, business and offerings in and around a person's dying and death. It could refer to both medical and non medical services, funeral and other businesses, informal and formal networks of support and care.


DEATH WALKER

Distinct from a Doula, a Deathwalker is a person trained to accompany a dying person and their family through the dying process and to assist in the arrangements and with practical help after death.


DECOMPOSITION

The process by which the body of a person who has died is broken down into its base elements. This is a naturally occurring process of chemical reactions beginning inside the person's body.


DOULA

A person who provides non-medical support and guidance during birth or death.

 

END OF LIFE CONSULTANT

A person who provides non-medical support and guidance to a dying person and/or their family. This term is often used to distinguish the role from that of an End of Life Doula, or to suggest the scope of services this person offers is somehow different to the EOL Doula but most often they are the same.


END OF LIFE DOULA

A person who provides non-medical support and guidance to a dying person and/or their family.


ENDURING GUARDIAN

The person who is legally appointed to make the medical, social and welfare decisions of another should they become unable to make those decisions for themselves. This power ends with the death of the donor of that power.


ENDURING POWER OF ATTORNEY

The person who is legally appointed to make the financial decisions of another should they become unable to make those decisions for themselves. The Power of Attorney acts with the same authority as the person themselves. This power ends with the death of the donor of that power.


EXECUTOR

The Executor is the person or persons legally appointed in the Last Will and Testament of an adult of sound mind to administer the deceased estate when that adult dies. They also have the final say over the person's body and disposal.

 

FAMILY

This term refers to kinship bonds and relationships of mutual love and support.  These relationships may or may not be biological or legally recognised.


FAMILY LED/FAMILY DIRECTED FUNERAL

A ceremony that is organised by the family/friends/community of the deceased and held in any location of their choosing.


FUNERAL

A time traditionally set aside for the conducting of ritual or ceremony designed to memorialise a person's life and mark their death. This may be a formal or informal gathering and could include speeches, catering, photographic montages, music, dance, music, cultural/religious prayers or rituals.


FUNERAL PROFESSIONAL

A person who is employed as a part of the funeral industry and performs all or part of the tasks generally associated with planning, directing or conducting a funeral ceremony or process.

 

GOOD DEATH

Often people refer to a good death as being a pain free death. A good death is more accurately described as being a death that has been planned for, carried out and supported in accordance with the plans and wishes of the person dying.


GRAVEYARD

A graveyard refers to the area within the grounds of a church where bodies are buried. This was the common way to dispose of the dead for centuries. Due to plague and the spread of disease, this was outlawed in Europe for a time and bodies were required to be buried in cemeteries, outside the city walls.


GREEN BURIAL

Green burial is the American term used to denote what we in Australia call Natural Burial. See Natural Burial.


GREEN CREMATION

A term used by some companies to describe the process of Alkaline Hydrolysis. See Alkaline Hydrolysis.

 

HOME

Home can be anywhere a person lives, has lived, chooses to be or feels comfortable being. It may refer to a house, a nursing home or other institution or living situation that a person has chosen.


HOME DEATH CARE

The care of a deceased person’s body in the home of the family or that person’s place of residence as provided by the family/friends/community of that person.


HOME FUNERAL GUIDE

An American term for a person who gives guidance in regard to the paperwork and legal requirements, as well as logistical advice to a family providing hands on body care and ceremony to their dead.


HOSPICE

Hospice refers to both a type of care and a place of care for people nearing end of life.

 

INSTITUTIONAL DEATH WORKER

This refers to any person working in or around death in an institutional setting. This could include, but is not limited to, morticians, embalmers, nurses, social workers, doctors, specialists, people involved with palliative care or involved in any other area of end of life and death.

 

LEGALLY REQUIRED

Something that is required by law. This is distinct from something required by policy.


LIFE EXTINCT

A Life Extinct is a form that is usually given as the first piece of paperwork completed after someone dies. It can be completed by a nurse, ambulance officer, police officer or another responsible person. It is the form used when there is no doctor immediately available to complete a medical cause of death certificate. In completing this form, the responsible person must gain consent from the doctor and their agreement to complete a medical cause of death certificate with a specified time frame.


LIVED EXPERIENCE

This refers to the experience, skill and knowledge a person gains by living through something, such as the death of a family member or friend.


LIVING REEF

Living reefs are concrete structures made with cremains and concrete and cast in the shape of coral reefs. They are strategically placed underwater in areas to encourage the regeneration of sea life and growth of coral.

 

MEDICAL CAUSE OF DEATH CERTIFICATE

The certificate created by a person's medical practitioner after their death which outlines the main and auxiliary causes of a person's death. If there is no doctor willing or able to complete this certificate, the body of the person who has died becomes a Coroners case.

 

NATURAL BURIAL

The process of burial in a shallow depth grave using chemical free preparations, no coffin or an ecofriendly one, natural protein-based fibre, done in a way to enhance decomposition.


NATURAL ORGANIC REDUCTION

The process by which the body of a person who has died is reduced to soil. This can take weeks or months, depending on how it is managed. It is also known as Human Composting.


NEO-TRADITIONAL FUNERALS

A modern funeral which incorporates rituals or actions that are new but becoming expected, such as watching a montage.

 

PALLIATIVE CARE

A system of care and support that focuses on living well with a terminal or life limiting diagnosis. Palliative care also relates to the final stages of end of life care.


PARTING STONE

Parting Stone is a company that offers Solidified Remains. They pioneered the process and launched it into the American market in 2019.


PUTRIFICATION
The bacterial process whereby microorganisms break down organic matter to create other base substances.

 

RECOMPOSE

Recompose is a company who offers Natural Organic Reduction. Their process takes 6-8 weeks and is offered in the USA.


RECORD OF DEATH

The Record of Death, otherwise known as the Death Certificate, is the official government certificate produced upon the registration of a person's death with their State’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.


RESOMATION

A UK based company who offer a form of Alkaline Hydrolysis which produces sterile remains.


RIGOR MORTIS

A state of contracture where all the muscles of the dead body contract and become rigid. Not every body gets rigor; some do and it leaves quickly and in others it stays for a long time. It usually begins within hours of death.


RITUAL

A particular action, movement, the recitation of certain words or any other defined process that has meaning and significance to those involved, e.g., lighting a candle in memory of a person who has died.

 

SENIOR NEXT OF KIN

Next of Kin has a hierarchy and Senior Next of Kin is on the top. Generally, it is spouse or partner, then eldest available child, parent or sibling then personal representative. An executor can override a senior next of kin after death; before death the senior next of kin will usually be consulted for medical and welfare decisions.


SHROUD

A should is any material used for wrapping or converting the body of someone who has died. Humans have been shrouding their dead for centuries. Some materials have included bark and animal fur. Historically, they were called winding sheets and at one time the UK passed a law to say they had to be made of wool. Today, the most common materials are plant or protein based fibres.


SHROUD CARRIER OR BEARER

A board that forms a hard flat base for a shrouded body to be laid upon. It often has handles and small sides like a tray. It can be used for burial and cremation. These carriers are needed for a body to go into a single cremator machine as they go in on rollers and they make the lowering of a body into a grave much easier. Some places require the carrier to be able to contain fluids.


SHROUDED CREMATION

The process of cremation where the body of the person who has died is not in a coffin, instead they are wrapped in a shroud. The body needs to be on a hard flat base (such as a carrier) to go into the cremator machine and for ease of movement and transport.


SOLIDIFIED REMAINS

A form of human remains which takes cremated remains from either flame cremation or alkaline hydrolysis and puts them through a ceramic firing process to render them solid and in a specific shape.


SUSTAINABLE

Capable of being sustained. Produced or carried out in such a way that by the production or carrying out resources are not depleted.

 

TRANSPORTATION

The physical movement of a person who has died from one place to another.

 

URBAN DEATH PROJECT

The Urban Death Project was the name given to Recompose while it was in it’s developmental phase. It was named as such because it was designed to be an environmentally friendly body disposal option, suitable for urban areas.

 

WAKE

A celebration style gathering held in memory of a person who has died. Traditional in many countries, a wake may include certain rituals, such as giving toasts and speeches. It is a time to share memories and honour the dead.


WATER CREMATION

A term used by some companies to describe the process of Alkaline Hydrolysis. See Alkaline Hydrolysis.