Glossary of Funeral Terms

As the planning begins, you may be introduced to new words and terms that are associated with the funeral planning process. We have provided a quick glossary for your reference.

    • Arrangement conference – The meeting with the funeral director in which you discuss your wishes for the funeral and the disposition of the body
    • Burial – Also called interment, earth burial at a cemetery is the most traditional method for final disposition of the body
    • Celebrant – A person who provides personalized services to a family to create a meaningful ceremony or ritual during a life transition
    • Columbarium – An above-ground structure for final disposition of cremated remains
    • Committal service – A brief graveside ceremony held with the casket or urn present before it is lowered into the ground
    • Cremation – A form of disposition that involves reducing the body through intense heat to cremated remains
    • Crypt – An above ground burial site in a mausoleum
    • Direct cremation – Cremation without a funeral or memorial service
    • Embalming – A method of preserving the body for a number of days following the death, allowing the family to view the body and hold the funeral service on a day that is convenient for out-of-town friends and relatives
    • Entombment – Placement of the casket in an above-ground structure called a mausoleum
    • Funeral – The ceremony that honors the end of a person’s life
    • Grave liner – An unlined outer burial container
    • Honorarium – The fee typically paid to a clergyperson or celebrant for officiating the funeral ceremony and to musicians or soloists for their contributions
    • Mausoleum – A small building in a cemetery that is like a burial plot above the ground
    • Niche – One of a number of recesses in the wall of a columbarium where the urn containing cremated remains is placed
    • Obituary – A notice in the newspaper that announces the death to the community, summarizes the person’s life and invites readers to attend the funeral and/or make memorial contributions in the name of the person who died
    • Pallbearers – The people who carry the casket from the ceremony to the hearse and from the hearse to the gravesite
    • Urn – A small vase-like container specially designed for holding cremated remains
    • Vault – A concrete or metal container into which the casket is placed before burial at a cemetery
  • Visitation – A scheduled time for family and friends to see the person who died, perhaps for the final time