Category

Glossary

Funeral Basics Glossary: A

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

Advance Planning

The act of making funeral, memorial, ceremony, or other service/plans prior to death. This can refer to recording one’s funeral wishes and paying in advance or simply to recording one’s funeral wishes.

Aerial Scattering

The act of scattering a loved one’s ashes via airplane, hot air balloon, or some other airborne device.

Aftercare

A term used to refer to services that are available to families following the death of a loved one, commonly grief resources.

Alkaline Hydrolysis

Also called flameless cremation or water cremation, alkaline hydrolysis is an alternative to traditional burial or cremation. The body is placed under high pressure at a lower temperature than traditional cremation. The body breaks down, and the ashes go to the next of kin. This method allegedly produces less carbon dioxide and pollutants than regular cremation. It is not yet legal in all 50 states of the United States.

Alternative Container

An unpainted, undecorated container designed to hold the deceased, usually made of unfinished wood, fiberboard, composition materials, or very rigid cardboard (also known as the minimum basic container). The alternative container must be combustible since it is used for cremations. Oftentimes, people use alternative containers for direct burials or green burials. They are generally less expensive than typical hardwood or metal caskets.

Apportionment

The act of separating cremated remains. Reasons for dividing the remains may be to enable the family to scatter some and keep the rest or to give an allocation to different family members.

Administrator

The probate court appoints an administrator to an estate to act on behalf of a person who has died without a will in place or who did not name an executor in the will.

Anatomical Donation

The act of giving a deceased body, organs, or tissues to science to improve medical education. It can also be a donation of organs and/or tissue from a deceased person to enhance a living individual’s life.

Arrangement Conference

The arrangement conference is a time set aside for family members to discuss a loved one’s funeral arrangements with the staff of a funeral home. During the arrangement meeting, family members will relay important information about the person who has died, as well as discuss their desires and preferences for the funeral service.

Arrangement Room

The room in which a funeral director meets with the deceased’s family to plan ceremony/service arrangements.

Ashes

A term given to the remains of the human body after cremation.

At-Need Funeral

A funeral and its associated planning that takes place at the time a death occurs. It is not planned ahead of time.

Attorney-in-Fact

An Attorney-in-Fact refers to the person named in a legal Power of Attorney document. In essence, this person legally acts on a person’s behalf according to the powers granted in that document. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

Funeral Basics Glossary: B

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

Balloon Release

A ceremonial event where individuals release hydrogen or helium balloons to honor a loved one’s passing and “let go” of grief.

Basic Services Fee

Basic service fees cover a proportionate amount of overhead. Generally, this includes the services of the funeral director and staff, facility maintenance and utilities, equipment and inventory cost, taxes and insurance, and other administrative expenses. Also, feel free to speak with a funeral professional about any additional services the fee covers.

Beneficiary

The beneficiary is the entity or individual(s) who receives benefits from the estate plan, trust, life insurance policy or legal will of another person. In general, it is required to name a beneficiary when completing any of these legal documents.

Bereavement

A period of mourning after a loss or a state of intense grief after the loss of a loved one.

Body Donation

The donation of a deceased body for purposes of medical research and education. In general, bodies are used for surgical dissection and the study of gross anatomy in medical practice.

Burial

A type of interment; the ritual act of placing a deceased loved one’s remains into the ground following final commemoration services.

Burial Flag

A flag that is provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to honor the memory of an eligible veteran, which is often displayed at the funeral and/or committal service. In addition, the family can request a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

Burial Garments

The garments worn by the deceased when buried or cremated. If a funeral is preplanned, they may be chosen by the deceased, but if not, they are chosen by the family. The funeral home may also assist the family in selecting burial clothing, especially if there is to be a viewing that requires a certain type of clothing (e.g., high neckline, long sleeves, etc.).

Burial Insurance

An insurance policy intended to pay for the cost of a burial/cremation and funeral. Burial plans may be set up as exempt assets for Medicaid qualification for long-term care. For more information, speak with a local funeral professional.

Burial Permit

Official authorization license to transfer the deceased to the burial site.

Burial Plot

A specific parcel of land where a deceased loved one lies after death. A burial plot and a cemetery plot are the same thing.

Burial Trust

A burial trust is a contract between an individual and a funeral and/or burial service provider. In some cases, the funeral home may lock in costs for future funeral or burial/cremation services at an agreed-upon price. If this is the case, the funeral home sometimes serves as trustee, or manager, of trust assets. Generally, a person funds the trust with cash, bonds, or life insurance. There are two types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. You can cancel a revocable burial trust at any time. However,  you cannot change or cancel an irrevocable trust. On top of that, a person does not have access to the funds except to pay for funeral services. By doing this, the funeral funds are protected and/or exempted from assets for the purpose of Medicaid qualification. A burial trust and a funeral trust are the same thing.

Butterfly Release

A commemoration ceremony; release butterflies into the environment to celebrate the life of a loved one.

Funeral Basics Glossary: C

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

Calling Hours

Another name for the viewing. Loved ones come to pay their respects to the deceased. The body is typically prepared by the funeral home and available for viewing at a specified time.

Canopy

The portable tent that covers the gravesite during the burial ceremony.

Cash Advance Items

For some funeral items, you must pay the funeral home in advance. The funeral home purchases cash advance items on your behalf from third-party vendors. Typically, the items include: death certificates, floral arrangements, obituary/death notice fees, cemetery charges, crematory fee, reception and specialty music fees, to name a few.

Casket

A container used to hold the deceased for burial, normally made from wood, metal, plastic, or stone. A casket has four sides, while a coffin has six.

Casketing

The term used for the act of placing the body in the casket after it has been prepared for burial.

Catafalque

The decorated platform where the casket rests during the funeral.

Celebrant

A certified individual who helps loved ones organize and perform a ceremony that aligns with the deceased’s beliefs and values. The celebrant may or may not be affiliated with a specific religion or denomination. Sometimes, they can also officiate other life events, like weddings, coming-of-age rituals, vow renewals, etc.

Celebration of Life

A type of funeral service, customized to the wishes of the deceased and their family. This type of ceremony does not follow any type of traditional guidelines or rules.

Cemetery

A spatially defined area of land or property specifically designated for the final interment of human remains.

Cemetery Deed

A legal document identifying ownership of a specific piece of land for the purpose of burial.

Cemetery Plot

A specific parcel of land set aside for the burial of the person who has died. Cemetery plot and burial plot are synonyms.

Cenotaph

A monument or structure built in remembrance of a deceased person; however, the body is buried somewhere else. Oftentimes, a cenotaph is used to honor those who died in war.

Ceremony

A ceremony is an event that marks an important milestone in life, such as a graduation, wedding, or baptism, and often includes rituals, traditions, and symbolic actions. Similarly, a funeral ceremony marks the death of a loved one, helps others understand the reality of the death through rituals, symbols, and traditions, and offers hope to grieving family and friends. Ceremonies may include religious or spiritual elements or may be secular in nature.

Closed Casket

A closed-casket visitation or funeral means that the body is not available for viewing.

Coffin

A container used to hold the deceased for burial, normally made from wood, metal, plastic, or stone. A coffin has six sides, while a casket has four.

Columbarium

A wall with alcoves or niches designed for the interment of urns containing cremated remains.

Committal Service

A funeral service held at a gravesite, mausoleum, or columbarium in a cemetery. Like a traditional service, it provides a final opportunity for mourners to honor and say goodbye to their deceased loved one. Graveside Service is a synonym.

Cosmetology

The application of makeup to the deceased. The makeup gives the deceased a more lifelike appearance during the visitation, viewing, or funeral service.

Cortège

The solemn, formal funeral procession that often contains a line of slowly moving people or cars.

Cremains

A common term for the remains of the deceased after the cremation process. It is a portmanteau of the words “cremation” and “remains.”

Cremated Remains

See Cremains.

Cremation

Using high-temperature burning, vaporization, and oxidation to reduce a deceased person’s body to its basic chemical compounds. Only authorized crematoriums perform this service.

Cremation Jewelry

A special type of jewelry specifically designed to carry a small amount of cremated remains inside. Cremation jewelry is often worn in remembrance of a loved one. Keepsake Jewelry and Memorial Jewelry are similar terms.

Cremation Permit

An official document issued by the local government, giving legal consent for cremation to occur.

Crematory/Crematorium

A facility authorized by law to cremate a deceased person.

Crypt

A burial chamber often located in the wall or beneath a church, chapel or cathedral that accommodates a casket. After internment, the crypt is sealed. Typically, family members place an inscription on the outside of the crypt. In a Double Crypt, two caskets lie side by side.

Funeral Basics Glossary: D

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

Death Benefits

When a person dies, surviving family members may be eligible for benefits through the Social Security office or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Death Certificate

A death certificate is a document issued by a medical practitioner that certifies the deceased state of a person and declares the date, location, and cause of the person’s death. The death certificate must be filed with the state’s Office of Vital Statistics.

Death Notice

A death notice announces the death of a person. Most often, newspapers and legal registries list them. A death notice differs from an obituary in that it does not include biographical facts or a chronological description of milestones in a person’s life. It is simply a formal announcement of the death of a person and shares funeral service information.

Deceased

A person who has died.

Digital Assets

Digital assets may include personal email and texts; creative assets such as logos, illustrations, animations, websites, and audio/visual media; digital files such as presentations, spreadsheets, photos, and documents; and online accounts such as online businesses, blogs, subscription services, social media accounts, and networking profiles. This list is not comprehensive but is intended to give you an idea of the array of things that fall under digital assets. Digital Estate is another term for this.

Digital Estate

See Digital Assets.

Digital Executor

A digital executor is a person or online service chosen to act on your behalf in relation to your digital assets after your death. They will distribute or delete your digital assets according to your final wishes as stated in your will. A digital executor should be able to understand and manage the technical aspects associated with digital assets. Ask a capable, trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

Digital Legacy

A digital legacy is created to preserve your digital assets online after your death for future generations.

Direct Burial

A direct burial occurs shortly after death with no formal funeral or committal service. No embalming is necessary since there is no viewing or visitation.

Direct Cremation

A direct cremation occurs shortly after death with no formal funeral or committal service. A funeral service provider oversees the cremation process and later returns the remains to the family.

Disinter

The act of removing a body from a grave or tomb.

Disposition

The final process of legally disposing of a deceased body. The most common forms of final disposition are burial and cremation. Other less common forms are burial at sea, alkaline hydrolysis, and anatomical donation.

Display Room

A room in a funeral home specifically for displaying funeral or memorial merchandise. Items include caskets, urns, casket liners, cremation jewelry, and burial/urn vaults.

Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)

This is a legal document that prevents medical personnel from doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to prolong or save your life.

Double Crypt

See Crypt.

Dove Release

At some funeral or memorial services, families perform a dove release. The doves are used to signify “letting go” of grief and embracing love, peace, hope, the soul, and/or The Holy Spirit.

Dressing

The act of clothing the deceased for burial and/or visitation.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a legal document that gives a person of your choice the power to act on your behalf in relation to your financial or legal matters if you ever become mentally incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

Funeral Basics Glossary: E

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

Embalming

Temporarily preserving the deceased by disinfecting the body and injecting embalming chemicals into the veins and arteries. This is meant to preserve the body until all funeral functions are complete.

Entombment

Placing the body into a burial chamber, often above the ground and in a mausoleum, crypt, or family tomb.

Epitaph

An inscription on a tomb/grave in remembrance of the deceased.

Eulogy

Usually given during a funeral or memorial service, a eulogy honors the life of a deceased loved one.

Executor

An executor is the personal representative appointed to carry out final instructions and wishes after death has occurred, as documented in a deceased person’s will. This includes participation in the probate process and distribution of assets. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

Exhume

The removal of the body from the burial site; a synonym of disinter.

Funeral Basics Glossary: F

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

Family Car

The vehicle that transports the family of the deceased during the funeral procession. Oftentimes, it is a limousine.

Family Room

A room provided to the family for privacy. The family has access to the room during the funeral service.

Flower Car

The vehicle specifically used for the transportation of flower arrangements from the funeral service location to the cemetery or final disposition location.

Final Disposition

See Disposition.

First Call

When the funeral director first visits the place of death to remove the body and to obtain essential information, such as vital statistics.

Fiduciary or Fiduciary Power of Attorney (FPOA)

A Fiduciary or Fiduciary Power of Attorney (FPOA) gives legal power to the person you appoint to act on your behalf regarding financial matters if you become unable to do so yourself. You may appoint the same person to serve as your Medical Power of Attorney. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

FTC Funeral Rule

The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), requires that all funeral homes maintain a General Price List (GPL). This list is available to any consumer who wishes to see it. The consumer can choose only the goods and services they want or need.

Full Couch Casket

A casket with a lid that opens completely.

Full-Service Funeral

A funeral that typically includes a viewing and visitation, formal ceremony, a committal service, and a burial or entombment.

Funeral

A ceremony/service that honors, celebrates, and commemorates the life of a person who has died.

Funeral Carriage

Transportation of the body by horse-drawn carriage.

Funeral Chapel

A dedicated room or facility similar to a religious chapel where mourners can gather for a visitation, funeral ceremony, or memorial service.

Funeral Coach

See Hearse or Funeral Carriage.

Funeral Director

A funeral director arranges for the care, transportation, preparation and burial or cremation of a deceased person. Additional responsibilities include filing the death certificate or other forms; transferring the body; arranging the funeral, wake or viewing; coordinating with cemetery or crematory representatives; and moving the body to the cemetery or crematory. A funeral director may also provide support services to a deceased loved one’s family.

Funeral Escort

The term used for law enforcement or other individuals who accompany a funeral procession to the cemetery.

Funeral Home

A business that provides assorted services for funeral arrangements. It is also the building where the arrangements are made for any funeral/memorial services, where visitations and services are often held, and where the deceased are prepared for burial/cremation.

Funeral Insurance

Insurance that establishes a written, pre-funded document or policy that helps to finance the costs of funeral/memorial and cremation/burial expenses.

Funeral Mass

A funeral service observed by the Catholic denomination that takes place the day after the wake/vigil.

Funeral Plan

A funeral plan is a written record of your final wishes for your end-of-life events and services. It may include your funeral service preferences as well as your choices for flowers, music, readings, speakers or attendees. A copy of the funeral plan is typically stored at a funeral home, in a safe deposit box or in a home safe. A funeral plan may or may not be paid for in advance. It should state the location of important documents such as your will, life insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage license, military records and credit obligations.

Funeral Service

A funeral service is an important end-of-life event that commemorates a deceased loved one. A funeral provides a time and place for loved ones to grieve and allows friends and family to show their support. A traditional funeral service is typically held within a few days of the death, often with the deceased love one present in a casket. The funeral service is often held in a funeral home, religious place of worship, or a chapel at the cemetery (though other locations are also possible) before cremation or burial. A funeral service may incorporate an open-casket visitation of the loved one’s remains prior to the funeral service and/or a procession to the burial site immediately following.

Funeral Service Provider

See Funeral Director.

Funeral Spray

The name given to the floral arrangements sent to the loved ones of the deceased to represent condolences and honor.

Funeral Trust

A funeral trust or burial trust is a funding option for a prepaid funeral and/or burial plan. The trust is often set up through a funeral home, who may agree to lock in costs for future funeral or burial services at an agreed-upon price. The funeral home sometimes serves as trustee or manager of trust assets, with the trust owner typically funding the trust with cash, bonds, or a specialized life insurance policy. A funeral trust can be revocable or irrevocable. An irrevocable trust would be beneficial for individuals who need to spend down assets in order to qualify for Medicaid assistance for long-term care.

Funeral Basics Glossary: G, H, I

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

G

Gathering

A gathering occurs after the graveside or committal service. It is an opportunity for friends and family to come together and continue to share memories, express condolences, and comfort and support each other. A gathering may be either public and open to anyone or private with only select family or friends in attendance.

General Price List (GPL)

The GPL is a list of all the products and services that a funeral home offers for sale. All funeral homes are required by the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule to provide a General Price List to any consumer upon request.

Grave

A grave is an excavated portion of ground where a deceased loved one is placed or “interred,” which is later covered with dirt, clay or cement.

Grave Liner

Typically made of concrete, a grave liner is the container that covers the casket in the ground after burial. It keeps the grave from caving or sinking in. Most cemeteries require a grave liner; however, they are not required by the state.

Graveside Service

A graveside service, sometimes called a “committal service,” is a funeral service that is held at the gravesite in a cemetery. The graveside service may take place at a burial plot, mausoleum, columbarium, or other final disposition site chosen. Like a traditional service, it provides a final opportunity for mourners to honor and say goodbye to their deceased loved one. A speaker often leads and concludes the service.

Gravestone

See Headstone.

Green Burial

A burial with minimal environmental impact. Green burials do not typically include embalming but can include natural burial and nontoxic biodegradable casket/urns.

Green Funeral

See Green Burial.

H

Half Couch Casket

A casket that covers the body of the deceased from the waist up.

Headstone

A headstone is a stone tablet set at the head of a grave that is typically inscribed with the name, birth and death date of the deceased loved one. A headstone is also called a gravestone, marker, physical memorial, or tombstone.

Hearse

A vehicle designed to carry the deceased’s body in a casket or coffin from the place of the funeral service to the cemetery.

Honorarium

The minister’s, celebrant’s, and/or musician’s payment for their service at the funeral/memorial ceremony.

Honorary Pallbearers

Family, friends, or members of a religious group specifically asked by the deceased’s loved ones to escort or honor guard the casket. Unlike active pallbearers, honorary pallbearers do not actually carry the casket.

I

Inquest

The legal inquiry into a cause of death, especially if it is a violent or unexpected passing.

Inscription

Engraved words/markings on a tombstone or memorial (closely related to an epitaph).

Interment

Interment is the burial of a deceased loved one’s remains (cremated or otherwise) into a grave or tomb, typically in conjunction with funeral services.

Inurnment

The placement of an urn in a resting place, such as a niche or columbarium.

In Lieu of Flowers

A request made by the deceased’s loved ones that mourners show their condolences by contributing to a specific charity or organization instead of sending flowers.

In State

Sometimes, when a public figure dies, their body is laid in a public place to allow mourners to pay their respects before the burial. A longer version of this concept is to Lie in State.

Insurance Assignment

Insurance assignment allows a person to transfer the ownership rights of a policy to a third party, such as a funeral home or an insurance assignment company. The funeral home may accept a life insurance policy in lieu of payment. An insurance assignment company verifies the validity of the policy, advances the family funds within 48 hours, and then works with the insurance company to receive reimbursement.

Irrevocable Contract

A contract that cannot be revoked or cancelled, most often set up as a Medicaid-exempt asset in the case of a prepaid funeral policy or trust. This allows the asset to be excluded from consideration for an individual who is attempting to qualify for assistance from Medicaid to cover nursing home expenses.

Funeral Basics Glossary: J, K, L

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

J

K

Keepsake Jewelry

See Cremation Jewelry.

L

Lapsed Policy

A lapse occurs when someone does not pay the required number of payments on an insurance policy. If a lapse occurs, the beneficiaries may receive nothing. Legally, the insurance company does not have to pay out on a lapsed policy. Typically, this only happens when a life insurance company does not receive premiums due after the grace period has passed.

Last Rites

The last prayers prayed over a person before death occurs. They are often associated with the Catholic faith but are also a part of other religions.

Lead Car

The vehicle that leads the funeral procession to the church and cemetery. The funeral director and minister/celebrant typically ride in the lead car.

Lie in State

When the body of a widely known, honorable individual is laid in a public place for mourners to pay their respects before the burial. This is sometimes shortened to In State.

Limousine

A stretch vehicle with seats for many individuals behind the driver’s seat. Typically, a limousine carries the deceased’s close relatives in the funeral procession.

Lump-Sum Death Benefit

A one-time payment from a life insurance policy and/or the Social Security Administration, for example, to be paid on the death of an individual. The lump sum is paid to the policy beneficiary or the surviving spouse or child, in the case of the Social Security benefit.

Funeral Basics Glossary: M, N, O

By Glossary

As with any profession, the funeral profession has its jargon, a specialized vocabulary unique to the business. Only those intimately familiar with the profession know what everything actually means. At times, this can be a problem because people need to be able to understand in order to make good decisions. Therefore, the need for a glossary! Hopefully, it will help you better understand any future conversations you may have with funeral professionals.

M

Marker

A marker is a stone tablet set at the head of a grave, typically inscribed with the name, birth and death date of the deceased loved one. A marker is sometimes called a gravestone, headstone, physical memorial, or tombstone.

Mausoleum

A large building that serves as a tomb for either one or multiple deceased bodies.

Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)

A MPOA is a legal document that allows you to legally appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make your own medical decisions. This document, also called an Advance Healthcare Directive, Healthcare Proxy or Treatment Directive, states your choices for medical treatment. You may appoint the same person to serve as your Fiduciary Power of Attorney. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to accept this responsibility.

Memorial Service

A memorial service is an event held to remember a deceased loved one and is most commonly held several days and sometimes up to a year after burial or cremation. The deceased loved one’s remains are not present. A memorial service is often held when direct burial or direct cremation is selected in place of a funeral.

Memorial Donation

See In Lieu of Flowers.

Memorial Video

A video composed of pictures and/or videos of the deceased, often played at the memorial, visitation, and/or funeral. Typically, the funeral home creates the memorial video with content given to them by the family; however, the family can make their own video if they want. Also referred to as a tribute video.

Memorial Folders

A memorial folder is another name for the funeral program. Typically, the memorial folder contains the order of service for the funeral, along with the obituary, poems or readings, and a photo of the deceased.

Memorial Jewelry

See Cremation Jewelry.

Memorial Tribute

A memorial tribute is anything someone does or says in honor of someone who has died. Memorial tributes can include a speech given at a funeral or memorial service, letters, notes, poems, songs, paintings, videos, or even charitable donations given in memory of a loved one’s life.

Memorial Website

An internet site where users can create virtual memorials for deceased loved ones. Depending on the features of the website, tributes can be made through text, pictures, videos, etc. Some memorial websites may require users to pay a fee to add their tribute.

Monument

A memorial structure to commemorate a person. It may be a headstone, marker, or physical memorial that is placed at the head of a grave, or it may be a stand-alone structure dedicated to the memory of the deceased.

Morgue

A facility, typically in a hospital or city or county medical examiner’s office, where deceased persons are taken to await identification, an autopsy, or transfer to a funeral home for preparation for final disposition.

Mortician

See Funeral Director.

Mortuary

See Funeral Home.

Motorcycle Hearse

A type of hearse used to carry a deceased body. There are two main types of motorcycle hearses. A normal motorcycle connects to a special sidecar, designed to carry the casket or urn. The other type of motorcycle resembles a trike and carries the casket/urn behind the motorcyclist.

Mourner

An individual who attends the funeral to grieve and to convey respect and honor to the deceased and their family/friends.

N

Next of Kin

An individual’s closest living relative, usually the spouse, child, parent, or sibling of the deceased. Oftentimes, this person inherits the deceased’s private property.

Niche

A small space located in a mausoleum or columbarium wall to hold an urn.

Niche Garden

A garden that contains columbarium, mausoleums, and/or niche walls to hold urns.

O

Obituary

An obituary is a written notice to commemorate a deceased loved one that typically includes a biography of facts and milestone events that memorialize a person’s life. Many times, it includes information about upcoming funeral or memorial services, and either the funeral home or a newspaper publishes it online or in a newspaper.

Officiant

A person who leads or officiates at a funeral or memorial service, often clergy.

Online Memorial

An online memorial is a digital space created to commemorate a deceased loved one. Memorials can be a single HTML webpage with the deceased’s name and a few words of tribute, or may be much more extensive. Multimedia content is common, including music, videos and stories and photos provided by friends and family. Create a timeline of the deceased loved one’s life, a family tree, a blog or journal. Also see Virtual Memorial.

Opening & Closing Fees

The cost associated with digging and filling the grave for burial. The cemetery determines the actual cost.

Organ Donation Form

If you choose to be an organ donor, this legal form provides proof that you want to donate organs or tissues after your death.

Ossuary

An option for a final resting place. Historically, an ossuary contained the bones of deceased persons, but in modern day, an ossuary is usually a place where cremated remains can be scattered legally.