Skip to main content

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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


See Funeral Director.


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.


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


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.

Skip to content