US Glossary of Funeral Terms


(A-rone) the burial casket. Jewish burial requires a wooden casket in keeping with the Biblical teaching "For dust art thou and to the dust thou shalt return" (Genesis 3:19)

Arrangement Conference

A meeting in which the Funeral Director gathers with the family of the deceased to make funeral arrangements.

Arrangement Room

A room in the funeral home used to make the necessary funeral arrangements with the family of the deceased.


Placing of remains in an underground chamber, usually in a cemetery; also called ground burial interment.

Burial Certificate or Permit

A legal document issued by the local government authorizing disposition. The permit may authorize ground burial, cremation, entombment or removal.

Burial Vault

A lined and sealed unit that is specifically engineered to support the weight of the earth grave as well as the heavy equipment that passes over it.


A container made of wood, metal or plastic into which the body is placed for interment. Caskets can also be referred to as coffins.


A place for the disposition of the deceased.

Certified Death Certificate

A certified copy of the original certificate issued by the local government.  Certified death certificates are used when making claims for insurance and other death benefits.


A room in the funeral home in which the funeral or memorial service is held.


A structure, similar to a mausoleum, but designed for inurnment of cremated remains.

Commital Service

The final portion of the funeral service at which time the deceased is interred or entombed and the last remarks or prayers are said; also referred to as graveside service.

Companion Crypt

A vault of chamber designed for two side-by-side burial.


The reduction of human remains to small bone fragments through the use of intense heat and pulverization.

Cremation Garden

A dedicated section of a cemetery designed for the burial, scattering or other permanent placement of ashes.

Cremation Permit

A certificate issued by local government authorizing cremation of the deceased.


A building which houses a retort.


A vault or chamber used for keeping remains.

Death Certificate

A legal document signed by the attending physician showing the cause of death and other vital statistical data pertaining to the deceased.


To remove the remains from their place of interment.


The process of preserving a body by means of circulating or placing preservative and antiseptic through the veins, arteries and body cavities. Embalming or any other artificial preparation of the remains is not permitted by Jewish law.


A brief speech that offers praise and celebrates the life of the person who has passed


To disinter.

Final Disposition

The final arrangement, generally referring to the decision to choose between burial or cremation

Final Rites

The funeral service

Funeral Director

A professional who helps families to plan funeral services for their loved ones while honouring the deceased and celebrating a life lived. Synonym: mortician, undertaker.

Funeral Home

A business that offers funeral services for the deceased and their families. Also called a mortuary.

Funeral Service

A ceremony marking an individual’s death. The funeral service can be a religious or cultural event and helps to honour the deceased.


An excavation in the earth for the purpose of burying the deceased.

Grave or Memorial Marker

Commonly referred to as headstones, these are memorials that are usually made of metal or stone which include such information as the name of the individual, date of birth and death,  symbols and words of tribute.

Half Couch

A casket in which only half of the top opens from the head to the waist of the deceased


A car designed and usually used for the transporting of the casketed remains from the place the funeral service is conducted to the cemetery.


To bury human remains in the earth in a grave or tomb.


The burial or final placement of remains


A luxurious car designed to seat five or more persons behind the driver's seat.


A public or private building especially designed for entombment. It is usually a permanent, above ground resting place for the deceased

Memorial Donation

A memorial contribution specified to a particular cause or charity, usually in lieu of flowers.

Memorial Service

A service conducted in memory of the deceased without the remains being present; also called a tribute service.

Minister's Room

A room in the funeral home set aside for the clergyman wherein he or she can prepare for the funeral service.


A place in which the bodies of persons found deceased are kept until identified and claimed or until arrangements for burial have been made.


A person's nearest relative; the person who hold the responsibility for making decisions for the funeral on behalf of the deceased


A notice in a newspaper or on the internet, publicizing the death of a person and giving details of the funeral service the survivors wish to have published.

Outer Burial Container

A concrete, metal or wood structure used to support a casket in the ground


Individuals whose duty is to carry the casket when necessary during funeral service.


A measured piece of land in a cemetery in which interment rights are purchased by a family or individual. A plot usually contains two or more graves

Prearranged Funeral

Funeral arrangements completed by an individual prior to his/her death, often funded by insurance or trust.

Preparation Room

A room in a funeral home designed and equipped for preparing the deceased for final disposition.


Preplanning is the process in which an individual creates their statement of wishes for their final event plan allowing loved ones to focus on celebrating a life lived

Private Service

An invitation only service. This may be held at a place of worship, a funeral home or a family home.


A book made available by the Funeral Director for recording the names of people visiting the funeral home to pay their respects to the deceased. Also has space for entering other data such as name, dates of birth and death of the deceased, name of the officiating clergyman, place of interment, time and date of service, list of floral tributes, etc.

Scattering Garden

A dedicated section of a cemetery wherein families can scatter the ashes of their loved ones. Often plaques are available to memorialize the loved ones whose remains have been scattered there.


(sh’losh-sheem) The thirty days following burial (including shiva).


(Shee-vah) the traditional seven-day mourning period immediately following burial, observed by the bereaved.


(Shmee-rah) the watching of remains. To show respect to the departed, the deceased is never left alone until after burial. The Schomer (Watcher) traditionally recites psalms


(Takh-ree-kheem) the burial shroud. A full set of traditional white clothing, preferably made of linen, includes: hat, shirt, pants, jacket, belt and wrapping sheet. This garment symbolizes equality and purity.


Ta-ha-rah) the traditional washing and dressing of the deceased with dignity. Performed by trained members of the Chevra Kadisha (Sacred Society). In accordance with Jewish traditional law, men prepare men, while women prepare women.


A container, into which cremated remains are placed, made of metal, wood or stone


An opportunity for survivors and friends to view the deceased in private usually in a special room within the funeral home; also referred to as viewing

Visitation Room

A room of the funeral home where family and friends gather


A watch kept over the deceased, sometimes lasting the entire night preceding the funeral


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