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0533 Making Funeral and Burial Arrangements

Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 533: Making Funeral and Burial Arrangements.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 533. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development, right here in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there to download a Learning Guide for this episode. To help support these free audio podcasts you can also make a small donation on our website, if you would like to support us that way.

This episode is called “Making Funeral and Burial Arrangements.” Reiko and Lucas are having a conversation about what will happen when they die – what they want done with their body after they die. So, we’ll have vocabulary related to death. On that happy note, let’s get started!

[start of dialogue]

Reiko: When I die, I want a big funeral. The more mourners the better!

Lucas: Not me. I’m just the opposite. I don’t want any kind of funeral or wake. I just want to be cremated and have my ashes scattered.

Reiko: What? You don’t want to be buried in a beautiful casket with a big headstone? Better yet, how about being interred in a mausoleum?

Lucas: You’ve got to be kidding me! Why would I all want all of that hoopla? I’m dead. What difference would it make to me?

Reiko: It’s not for you. It’s for the mourners. Having a ceremony and a burial will help them grieve.

Lucas: Not my friends and family. The less fuss the better for them. Most of my family is buried in simple gravesites in non-denominational cemeteries.

Reiko: What’s the fun in that?

Lucas: I think you’re forgetting one thing: we’re talking about death. It’s not supposed to be fun and games!

[end of dialogue]

Reiko begins our dialogue by saying, “When I die, I want a big funeral.” A “funeral” is a ceremony that you have after a person dies; it is a way of allowing people to say goodbye. Funerals have been around for as long as we have any sort of recorded history in almost every culture. Sometimes the funeral is religious; sometimes it is not. Reiko says she wants a big funeral. She says, “The more mourners the better!” A “mourner” (mourner) is a person who is very sad because someone they know has died, usually a friend or a member of the family, or it could just be someone they know very well. “To mourn,” as a verb, means to feel sad because someone has died; you’re remembering that person. Often, mourners wear (at least in Western traditions) black if they are “in mourning,” that is, if they are observing the time of sadness, of grief, of sorrow after someone has died.

funeral – a ceremony after a person has died, putting the body somewhere and allowing other people to say goodbye

* Have you thought about what kind of funeral you want to have when you die?

mourner – a person who is very sad because another person has died, usually a close friend or a family member

* How many mourners went to Ted Kennedy’s funeral?

wake – the period of time after death but before a funeral, when people meet in that person’s home to remember the person and talk about his or her life, usually while eating food

* I won’t be able to go to Aunt Elmina’s funeral, but I did go to her wake.

to cremate – to burn the body of a dead person until only ashes (grey-colored powder) are left

* Lynn wants to be cremated, because she doesn’t like the idea of her body lying in the cold earth.

ashes – the grey-colored powder that is left after something burns in a fire

* Could you please sweep the ashes out of the fireplace?

to scatter – to spread around, to put a small amount of something over a large area

* I dropped the children’s toy box, and crayons and markers are scattered all over the bedroom floor.

to bury – to place a body or something else underground, covering it with earth

* Christian is trying to bury his little sister’s feet and legs in the sand, but she keeps moving away.

casket – a special box that is used to hold a dead body and is placed underground

* He wants a fancy metal casket with gold handles and a red velvet lining, but his wife would prefer a simple wooden casket.

headstone – a piece of stone placed at the top of a grave, usually with the dead person’s name, date of birth, date of death, and sometimes a short phrase

* This headstone is very simple: “Gabriel Marciano, 1857-1938, a loving husband and father.”

to inter – to bury the body of a dead person, in the ground or inside of a building

* We’re going to meet at the church at 11:00, and her body will be interred at noon.

mausoleum – a small building that is used to hold the bodies of dead people, usually when they are all from one rich family

* All of Charlotte’s aunts and uncles plan to be interred in the family’s mausoleum.

hoopla – excitement and attention; lots of activity and motion; with many interesting things happening

* What’s all the hoopla for on the street? What’s happening?

to grieve – to feel very sad because someone has died or because one has lost something important

* I don’t think you should ask Meghan out on a date. She’s still grieving for her husband, even though he died two years ago.

fuss – lots of unnecessary activity, worry, actions, or discussion, especially if everything would be simpler without it

* I’ve never seen so much fuss over a missing cat! They cried, called the police, and put up posters all over the neighborhood.

gravesite – a small, outdoor space where one dead body is buried

* Every year, on the anniversary of our mother’s death, we go to leave flowers on her gravesite.

non-denominational – without a religious affiliation; not connected to a particular religion

* When did you start going to a non-denominational church? I thought you were raised as a Presbyterian.

cemetery – an outdoor area where many bodies are buried

* On Halloween night, the teenagers dress up as ghosts and run through the cemetery, trying to scare people.

fun and games – activities that are not serious and are only meant for having a good time

* They thought that skipping class was all fun and games until they realized they might fail algebra.

Comprehension Questions
1. What would you expect a mourner to do?
a) Be cremated.
b) Be interred.
c) Grieve.

2. What would you expect to find at a gravesite?
a) Ashes.
b) A headstone.
c) A mausoleum.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?

The word “wake,” in this podcast, means the period of time after death but before a funeral, when people meet in that person’s home to remember the person and talk about his or her life, usually while eating: “We’re making a lasagna to bring to Pete’s wake.” The phrase “in the wake of (something)” is used to talk about something that happens after something else and as a result of it: “Many people died in the wake of the flooding.” A “wake-up call” is a call that one requests at a hotel to help one wake up at a certain time the next morning: “Please give me a wake-up call at 6:45.” Another meaning of “wake-up call” is something that happens unexpectedly and makes one think about what one is doing and decide to change things: “Xiaofeng’s driving accident was a wake-up call that made her friends become better drivers.”

to scatter

In this podcast, the verb “to scatter” means to spread around or to put a small amount of something over a large area: “They scattered leaves on the table as decoration.” The verb “to scatter” can also mean for many people to leave an area in many different directions very quickly, usually because they are scared: “The birds scattered when the boy shouted.” The phrase “scattered showers” refers to short periods of rain that happen many times during the day: “Expect scattered showers this afternoon, with heavy rain tomorrow morning.” Finally, the word “scatterbrained” is used to describe someone who is very distracted and cannot remember things well, or doesn’t know what he or she is doing: “Shelby is so scatterbrained she doesn’t even remember where she parked her car.”

Culture Note
People often visit the gravesites of their “deceased” (dead) loved ones, but some people also like to visit the “tombs” (mausoleums; stone buildings for dead bodies) of famous people.

For example, the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii is where two of Hawaii’s “royal” (relating to kings and queens) families are buried. Visitors can go to a “chapel” (small church) and, behind the chapel, see the tombs of Hawaiian kings and their families.

Lincoln’s Tomb, in Springfield, Illinois, is the tomb of the United States’ 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. People can go there “to pay their respects” (to show one’s admiration for someone who has died) for his “role” (the way a person acted and the things he or she did) in U.S. history.

Many people who go to Washington, D.C. visit Arlington National Cemetery, which is a very large cemetery where more than 300,000 people are buried. Most of them fought in wars for the United States or were important “figures” (people) in “public services” (jobs where one works for the government and tries to help other people).

Arlington National Cemetery has a “monument” (something that is built to remember an important person or event) called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is “dedicated to” (said to be in honor of) all the “unknown soldiers” (people who die while fighting for their country, and whose bodies are found, although their names and identities are not known). The tomb is always “guarded” (watched over) by men in “uniform” (standard clothing), and people come to watch the “changing of the guard” (the ceremony where guards leave and new guards come).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - b