The funeral profession, like any other field of endeavor, has a large variety of terms and required forms to be completed which may not be familiar to the general public. Many of these are defined below both for military and non-military funerals.
As well, be sure to have a look at our extensive list of funeral related articles and funeral related videos on various topics of interest to our clients.
Funeral Support Information
Every funeral home has funeral information created by the state that needs to be supplied to the families it serves. As well, pricing information on all goods and services sold by the funeral home should be give to the family as well. It will help the family make funeral decisions.
This is our General Price List. It lists all the goods and services which we offer. It is updated regularly as our funeral offering and prices do change from time to time.
This is our Casket Price List. It lists all caskets which we “normally” offer for sale. We however are not limited to this if you desire something special. It is updated regularly as caskets and prices do change from time to time.
The Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases is a guide produced by the state explaining your rights and various information about the funeral process.
All veterans are entitled to have the US Flag presented to the family during the Military Honors Ceremony. Often the funeral director obtain the flag using this United States flag for burial purposes form.
The Presidential Certificate request form is a request for a letter from the president thanking the veteran for their service.
Often times military records may get misplaced over the years. If that is the case new records may be requested with the Request for Military Records form.
Depending on the individual situation the military may pay some of the funeral costs. The Application for Veteran Burial Benefits should be completed to request these.
Funeral and Mortuary Definitions
Alternative Container – An unfinished wood box or other non-metal receptacle without ornamentation, often made of fiberboard, pressed wood, or composition materials, and generally lower in cost than caskets.
Advance Planning – making arrangements for a funeral or memorial before death. It is a good idea to have your wishes known so your loved ones do not have to be burdened at the time of your passing.
Aftercare – refers to the services available to the family after the death of a loved one and generally after the funeral. It may include such items as well to obtain grief support, applying for government benefits etc. difference funeral establishments will have various levels of aftercare.
Arrangement Meeting – a meeting between the funeral director (or planner) and the person making the arrangement for the funeral. It often takes place at the funeral home but may be held at any location that is convient. All aspects of the arrangements are discussed and a contact is agreed to.
Autopsy – an inspection of a body after death by a medical doctor in order to determine the cause of death. May be done by the police or by the family if the cause of death needs to be determined more clearly – especially in the case of suspected foul play.
Bereaved – The immediate family of the deceased, but in general suffering from grief upon a loved one’s death.
Burial – Placing of a dead body in an underground chamber – the interment. This is often a grave in the ground, but may also refer to full body burial at sea.
Burial Certificate or Permit – A legal government document authorizing some form of disposition of human remains. This could burial, cremation, transportation etc
Burial Vault – see “Outer Burial Container.”
Casket – A ridgid container designed to hold a human body for burial. It is made of wood, metal or something similar. It is also called a coffin
Cemetery – land reserved for graves (burials), tombs or funeral urns. There are various type of cemetaries such as traditional, national, green etc
Cemetery Services – Opening and closing graves, crypts or niches; setting grave liners and vaults; setting markers; and long-term maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities.
Chapel – A large room in the funeral home generally in which the farewell service is held.
Closed Casket – a ceremony in which the body is in a closed casket, not available for viewing.
Columbarium – A structure with niches (small spaces) for placing cremated remains in urns or other approved containers. It may be freestanding or located in a chapel or mausoleum.
Committal – the section of a funeral ceremony – at the gravesite or whereever the remains or cremains are – where last words are said before interment
Coping With Loss – describes the difficult period following the death of a loved one. See also “Aftercare” and “Grieving
Cosmetology – Utilization of cosmetics to restore life like appearance to the deceased.
Cremains – another term for “ashes” also know as cremated reamins.
Cremated Remains – what remains of a body following cremation. See “Ashes”
Cremation – is a heating process which incinerates human remains into ashes.
Crematory – facility where the cremation of the deceased occurs.
Death Benefits – a deceased survivors may be eligible for benefits from Social Security or the Veteran’s Administration.
Death Certificate – a legal document signed by a physician which specifies the cause of death as well as statistical information about a person who has died. You will probably need several copies of the death certificate for various organizations.
Death Notice – a notice placed in a newspaper or on the Internet to announce the death of a person. This notice usually includes information on a funeral service if one is held.
Deceased – the person who has died.
Direct Burial – a burial with no viewing or visitation, usually consisting of care, transportation and burial of remains. A ceremony may be held at the graveside.
Direct Cremation – a body is taken from the place of passing to the crematorium for cremation without previous ceremony, viewing or visitation.
Display Room – A funeral home’s sales room where their caskets, urns, and other funeral merchandise is displayed.
Disposition – The placement of cremated or whole body remains in their final resting place.
Embalming – The process of preserving a deceased body by means of circulating a preservative embalming fluid through the veins and arteries. It is intended to slow the decomposition process to allow for a family to have a viewing.
Embalming Fluid – Liquid chemicals used in preserving a dead body, there are several types and some are enviromentally friendly than others.
Endowment Care Fund – Money collected from cemetery property purchasers and placed in trust for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery.
Eulogy – words spoken at a ceremony to celebrate the life of a person who has died, generally praising the individual.
Exhume – To dig up the deceased remains.
Family Car – A limousine in the funeral procession set aside for the use of the immediate family. This is the car right behind the hearse in the funeral procession.
Final Rites – The funeral service also this term refers to the last prayers and ministrations given to many Catholics when possible shortly before death
Funeral Arrangements – The result of the meeting between the funeral director and the family for the purpose of completing financial and service details of a funeral.
Funeral Ceremony– the ceremonies marking a person’s death, held before he or she is buried or cremated.
Funeral Director – A person who deal with the burial or other disposition of dead human bodies and related duties. May also known as a mortician or undertaker. This individual must be licensed by the state.
Funeral Escort – Individuals who escort a funeral procession, such as law enforcement officers.
Funeral Home – A building used for the purpose of conducting funerals and ancililary purposes
Funeral Procession – Vehicles accompanying the remains of a deceased person, usually transporting remains to a final resting place.
Funeral Service – any services which may be used to care for and prepare human remains for burial, cremation or other final disposition – may also include ancillary services
Funeral Spray – A large bunch of cut flowers sent to the residence of the deceased as a floral tribute.
General Price List – a list of prices detailing services rendered by a funeral home. It is a legal requirement to provide it to anyone who requests it.
Grave – a space in the earth for the purpose of burying remains.
Grave / Memorial Marker – A method of identifying the occupant of a particular grave. Grave markers are usually made of metal or stone and give data such as the name of the individual, date and place of birth, date and place of death.
Grave Liner – A receptacle made of concrete, metal or wood into which the casket is placed. Normally this item has four sides and a top but no bottom. The main purpose of this item is to prevent the ground from sinking down around the grave site as the earth settles.
Green Funeral – describes funeral options which are eco-friendly. For example, a more biodegradable casket may be selected and probably no embalming has been used. Anything more enviromentaally friendly.
Grieving – Experiencing deep sadness as the result of the loss of a loved one.
Hearse – vehicle designed and used for transporting the deceased – also known as a Funeral Coach.
Honorary Pallbearers – Friends or member of a certain group (churches, clubs etc) who act as an escort or honor guard for the deceased. Honorary pallbearers do not carry the casket.
Immediate Burial – with the exception of a graveside ceremony, the direct disposition of human remains without a formal viewing, visitation or ceremony.
Interment – Burial in the ground (body or ashes) or possibly the sea
Lead Car – The vehicle in which the funeral director and the clergy ride. When the procession is formed, the lead car moves to the front and leads the procession to the church and/or cemetery. This car is usually in front of the hearse.
Mass Cards – A card indicating that a Mass for the deceased has been arranged – really applied to the Catholic religion.
Mausoleum – a building designed to house a body above the ground, rather than buried within it.
Medical Examiner – a person who examines a body after death to determine the cause of death if it is in question.
Memorial – the generic name given to any type of headstone or flat marker used to identify the occupant of a particular grave or crypt.
Memorial Donation – a contribution made to a charity or organization in honor of the person who has died. This donation is usually made in lieu of sending flowers.
Memorial Service – A ceremony commemorating the deceased, without the body present. However, this term is also used for the service when the cremains (ashes) are present
Morgue – A place in which the bodies of persons found dead are kept until identified and claimed or until arrangements for burial have been made.
Mortuary – Another name for a funeral home – a building specifically designed and constructed for caring for the dead.
Mortuary Science – the area of study in which a funeral director as well as other specialities in the industry is trained.
Mourner – One who is present at the funeral out of affection or respect for the deceased.
Next Of Kin – a person’s nearest living relative. Usually the person responsible for organizing the funeral
Niche – A small opening or recess in a wall that is used to display an urn containing remains.
Obituary – A notice of the death of a person usually placed in a newspaper, or on the Internet, containing a biographical sketch of the deceased, relatives still alive and details of the planned funeral service. Sometimes referred to as a death notice or Obit
Open Casket – describes a visitation or ceremony in which the body is in an open casket and available for all the see.
Pall – a religious cloth that is placed over a coffin at the funeral ceremony.
Pallbearers – Individuals whose duty it is to help carryor escort the casket during funeral service. Pallbearers in some sections of the country are hired and in other sections they are close friends and relatives of the deceased.
Plot – A specific area in a cemetery owned by a family or individual. A plot usually contains two or more graves. This is the space used to bury the casketed body or an urn containing cremains (ashes).
Prayer Card – a printed card available during a visitation, memorial or church ceremony. The generally have a devine picture and a prayer.
Prearranged Funeral – Funeral arrangements completed by an individual prior to his/her death.
Private Service – a service in which the family prefers to include only the family members and closest friends of the person who has died. It is by invitation only.
Procession – The vehicular movement of the funeral from the place where the funeral service was conducted to the cemetery. This term also applies to a church funeral where the mourners follow the casket as it is brought into and taken out of the church.
Putrefaction – The decomposition of the body upon death which causes discoloration and the formation of a foul smell.
Register – A book for recording the names of people visiting the funeral home to pay their respects to the deceased. Also has areas 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, ect – really any information pertaining to the funeral.
Remains – The deceased – usually refers to the body but many also refer to the remains
Reposing room – A room in the funeral home where a body is stored from the time it is casketed until the time of the funeral service.
Restoration – The process of restoring mutilated any distorted features by employing wax, creams, plaster, etc.
Rigor Mortis – Rigidity of the muscles which occurs at death. It begins after about three hours after death, reaches maximum stiffness after 12 hours, and gradually dissipates until approximately 48 to 60 hours after death
Scattering – the act of distributing ashes – also know as ash scattering
Service Car – Usually a pickup truck or van which is utilized to transport chairs, flower stands, shipping cases, etc.
Spirtual Banquet – A Roman Catholic practice involving specific prayers, such as Masses and Rosaries, offered by an individual or a group.
Survivors – The persons outliving the deceased, particularly the immediate family.
Sympathy Cards – A card sent to the family to express sympathy.
Tomb – a grave or other place, such as a mausoleum, used to bury a dead person.
Traditional Funeral – usually includes a viewing and visitation, formal ceremony, a graveside service, and burial or entombment.
Transferring – moving the reamins to another destination – may be anywhere in the world.
Undertaker – an older term term for a funeral director
Urn – A container into which cremated remains are placed.
Urn Vault – a small reinforced container used for housing an urn in the ground. The Urn Vault acts the same as a burial vault does for a casket – to help protect the surrounding ground from collapse.