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Personal Service, Peace of Mind, Pleasant Memories

General Information

Glossary of Funeral Terms

Since arranging a funeral is done so seldom in one’s lifetime, people can be unaware of many of the terms used in the funeral ceremony and industry. Metropolitan Funeral Service is providing this glossary to promote a better understanding and provide the knowledge necessary for you to make informed decisions regarding all aspects of funeral service. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone 757.480.1800 or 757.494.1800, or by email: staff@metropolitanservice.com.



Alternative Container: A container, which does not meet the standards of a burial casket and is used to hold human remains for cremation. It is usually made of heavy cardboard or chipboard.

Apportionment: Dividing cremated remains into portions for separate disposition. For example, a set of cremated remains could be divided into three portions, with one portion placed in an urn in a columbarium, another portion scattered in a favorite place, and yet another carried in a locket.

Arrangement Conference: The meeting at the funeral home when funeral arrangements are made.

Arrangement Room: The funeral home room used by family members and the funeral director to make arrangements for the funeral service.

Ashes: See Cremated Remains.

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Burial: Also interment. Placing human remains in a grave in the earth or in an underground tomb.

Burial Case: See Casket.

Burial Permit (or certificate): Legal permission from local authorities for the burial to occur. It may also authorize cremation or removal of the remains to a distant place.

Burial Garments: Clothing made especially for the dead.

Burial Insurance: See Funeral Insurance.
Canopy: A portable canvas shelter used to cover the grave area during a burial. Also called a tent.

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Casket: Also called a burial case. A container made from wood, metal or plastic into which a body is placed for burial.

Casket Coach: See Funeral Coach.

Certified Death Certificate: A legal copy of the original death certificate, issued by local authorities at the request of family members, for the purposes of substantiating claims for insurance etc.

Chapel: A large room in a funeral home dedicated to holding funeral services.

Coffin: An English-style, wedge-shaped casket, usually with 6 sides.

Columbarium: A building or part of a building containing niches designed to hold and memorialize cremated remains.

Committal Service: The final part of a funeral service during which the remains are buried or entombed.

Cortege: See Funeral Procession.

Cosmetology: Using cosmetics to restore a lifelike appearance to the deceased. Usually done when there will be visitation.

Cremated Remains: Also called ashes. The portion of a body remaining after cremation. For an adult this is about 6-8 pounds of bone fragments.

Cremation: Reduction of the body to cremated remains by fire or intense heat.

Cremation Permit: A certificate issued by the local authority authorizing cremation of the deceased.

Crematory: A specially-designed furnace for cremating human remains, or a building housing such a furnace.

Crypt: Vault or room used for keeping remains.

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Death Certificate: A legal document signed by a physician showing cause of death and other information about the deceased.

Death Notice: A paragraph in the relevant section of the newspaper informing people of a person's death and giving funeral details survivors.

Deceased: (1) To be dead. (2) The dead person.

Disinter: Also Exhume. To dig up the remains from the burial place. This may occur when a family wishes to re-bury the remains in a family plot or move them to another cemetery.

Display Room: The room in a funeral home or cemetery where caskets, urns, memorial plaques and other funeral and memorial related materials are displayed.

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Embalming: Filling the arteries, veins and body cavities of the deceased with antiseptic and preservative to delay the decay process.

Entombment: Placing the body in a tomb.

Exhume: See Disinter.

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Family Car: A limousine used by immediate family in the funeral procession.

Flower Car: Vehicle used to transport flowers from the funeral home to the church and/or cemetery.

Final Disposition: The last process the remains go through, for example burial, cremation, burial of cremated remains.

Final Rites: The funeral service.

First Call: The funeral director's first visit to the place of death in order to remove the remains and obtain any information which is needed immediately.

Funeral Coach: Also Casket Coach or Hearse. Motor vehicle designed to convey the casket from the funeral service to the place of burial in the cemetery.

Funeral Arrangements: A conference between the deceased's family and the ~funeral director where the details of the funeral and relevant finances are finalized.

Funeral Director: Also Mortician, Undertaker. A trained and certified professional who arranges and supervises the burial or cremation of human remains.

Funeral Home: A building used for embalming or otherwise preparing human remains for final disposition and for arranging and conducting funeral services.

Funeral Insurance: Also Burial Insurance. An insurance policy, normally written for a small amount, which provides money for a funeral upon the death of the person insured.

Funeral Procession: A procession, usually in motor vehicles, from the church or chapel to the cemetery.

Funeral Service: Also Final Rites. The rites conducted immediately before final disposition of the dead body.

Funeral Spray: A floral tribute sent in memory of the deceased to their residence or to the funeral.

Funeral Trust: See Prearranged Funeral Trust.

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Grave: A hole excavated in the ground for the purposes of burial.

Grave Liner: A receptacle made of concrete, metal, plastic or wood used to line the grave to protect the remains and to prevent the grave from collapsing.

Grave Marker: See Memorial Marker.

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Hearse: See Casket Coach.

Honorary Pallbearers: Friends, or members of a religious, social, fraternal or military organization, who act as an honor guard or escort for the deceased. They do not carry the casket.

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In State: See Viewing.

Inter: To bury in a grave or tomb.

Interment: See Burial.

Inturment: Placing cremated remains in an urn.

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Lead Car: The car leading the funeral procession.

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Mausoleum: A building containing above-ground tombs or crypts.

Memorial Marker: A marker used to identify a grave, crypt, urn placement site or other place of final disposition. Permanent markers are usually of metal or stone and give the name of the deceased, their dates of birth and death, and sometimes a sentimental message.

Memorial Service: A service conducted in memory of the deceased when the remains are not present.

Morgue: A place where human remains are kept pending autopsy or identification.

Mortician: See Funeral Director.

Mortuary: See Funeral Home.

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Niche: A hollow space in a wall made for placing urns. It may be indoors or outdoors.

Niche Garden: An outdoor garden containing structures with niches.

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Obituary: A notice, usually in the newspaper, containing biographical details of the deceased.

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Pallbearers: Those who carry the casket during a funeral service. They are usually friends and relatives.

Plot: A privately-owned piece of ground in a cemetery which contains two or more grave sites.

Prearranged Funeral: A funeral, which has been arranged and paid for before the person's death.

Prearranged Funeral Trust: A trust fund where money for prearranged funerals is held until needed. In most States trusts are established under State law and/or supervision.

Preparation Room: A specially-designed room in the funeral home equipped for preparing the deceased for final disposition.

Procession: See Funeral Procession.

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Register: A book containing details about the deceased and the funeral service which can be signed by all those attending. It is then given to the immediate family.

Remains: The dead body of the deceased person.

Reposing Room: See Visitation Room.

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Survivors: Those who have outlived the deceased, especially family members.

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Tent: See Canopy.

Tomb: A chamber excavated from earth or rock specifically for receiving human remains.

Transit Permit: A permit issued by a local authority allowing a body to be transported to the place of burial or cremation.

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Undertaker: See Funeral Director.

Urn: A container, usually of metal, wood or porcelain, into which cremated remains are permanently placed.

Urn Garden: A garden containing urn burial sites and frequently niches also.

Urn Placement: Permanent placing of an urn into a niche or urn burial site.

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Vault: (1) A burial chamber, which is underground or partly so. (2) A metal or concrete container for the casket.

Viewing: Making the deceased available to be visited and seen by relatives and friends before or after the funeral service.

Vigil: A Roman Catholic religious service held on the eve of the funeral service.

Visitation: An opportunity for family and friends to view the deceased in private before the funeral service.

Visitation Room: A room in a funeral home where the body lies in state before the funeral service so that people may view the deceased and spend time with other survivors.

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Wake: A watch service kept over the deceased the night before the funeral service.

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