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Glossary of Funeral Terms

Family Owned & Operated Since 1884.

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