Helpful Terms



Basic Services Fee
a fee charged by the funeral home that the consumer has to pay

the immediate family of the deceased

a common choice for disposition of a body; remains are put into a casket and buried in the ground, usually in a cemetery

Burial Insurance
a special type of insurance that pays for funeral services

Burial Liner
encloses the casket in the grave; used to keep the casket from sinking; made of reinforced concrete and lowered into the grave prior to burial; a less expensive option than a burial vault; also called grave liner

Burial Vault
encloses the casket in the grave; used to keep the casket from sinking; also called vault

Cash Advance Fees
fees charged by the funeral home for goods and services it buys from outside vendors on your behalf

the term now used for the older term coffin; a receptacle to house the body

placing the body in the casket upon completion of embalming (if chosen by the consumer), dressing and makeup

a stand on which the casket rests while "in state" and during the funeral service

a business that offers to sell a person the right to bury or entomb or scatter a body on their property

Cemetery Deed
the legal document from the cemetery which establishes your right to bury the deceased in the plot for which you contracted and paid

an empty tomb or monument erected in memory of a person buried elsewhere

Church Truck
a collapsible catafalque used for funerals

a type of vault with spaces for storing urns containing ashes

Consumer or Customer
the person purchasing the services of a funeral home or crematory or cemetery

a public official who investigates the cause of death if it appears to be from other than natural causes, or if the deceased had no family physician

the funeral procession

using cosmetics to restore a life-like appearance to the deceased

the cremated remains of the deceased

the process of reducing a body to tiny bone fragments through intense heat; ashes may be scattered, buried, kept at home, or put in a columbarium

Cremation Authorization Form
a form signed by the family or agent authorizing cremation; includes other information such as disposition of ashes

the place where a body is cremated

a vault or room used for keeping the remains of the deceased

Custodial Care
fee the funeral home may charge for days that the body is being held with no other services being provided

Death Certificate
a legal document usually issued by the attending physician; declares that the death occurred and presenting other pertinent information; authorizes burial or cremation; in cases where the legal system is involved, the medical examiner would issue the certificate; a county health director may also sign; provides proof of death for the family related to the estate

the person who has died

Designation of Intentions
a form that the funeral director will complete if you select cremation stating how the ashes will be handled and notifying the customer that the funeral home has the right to dispose of the ashes if you do not claim them within "x" number of days

to dig up or remove the remains from the place of burial

the process of replacing blood in the body with an antiseptic and preservative to delay the decay process

burial in an above-ground crypt in a mausoleum or in a lawn crypt

a brief speech that celebrates the character and services of the person who has died

Family Car
the limousine in the funeral procession set aside for the use of the immediate family

Family Room
a room in the funeral home reserved for the family

Final Rites
the funeral service

First Call
the visit of the funeral director to the place of death for the purpose of removing the deceased and to secure certain information needed to proceed with arrangements

Funeral Director
a professional, often licensed, who supervises the burial or cremation of the deceased and maintains a funeral home to provide these services; previously called mortician or undertaker

Funeral Home
a building used for the purpose of arranging and conducting funerals; may include cremations; some allow for tissue donation procedures at the home; previously called mortuary

Funeral Service
a service, religious or other, conducted in honor of the deceased

General Price List
a list of prices for services and goods that the funeral home is required by law to provide to a consumer

an excavation in the earth for the purpose of burying the deceased

Graveside Service
the final service, religious or other, made directly before interment

Green Funeral
one that honors the environment as well as the dead

a vehicle designed and used for transporting a casket to the cemetery

Honorary Pallbearers
friends or members of a religious, social or fraternal organization who act as an escort or honor guard for the deceased; they do not carry the casket

Immediate or Direct Burial
the disposition of human remains by burial without a formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony, except for a graveside service

Immediate or Direct Cremation
the disposition of human remains by cremation without a formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony

In State
the custom of having the deceased presentable for viewing by relatives and friends prior to or after the funeral service

the ritual of placing a person in a grave or tomb

the placing of cremated ashes in an urn

Itemized Statement of Services and Merchandise
a list of the specific goods and services you have chosen, the price of each item, and the total cost (also includes an estimate of the cash advance fees); this serves as your contract

a building especially designed to receive entombments; permanent above ground resting place for the dead

Memorial Donation
a contribution specified to a particular cause or charity in honor of memory of the deceased

Memorial Service
a service, usually religious, conducted in memory of the deceased without the remains being present

the current term for what used to be called a tombstone; sometimes called a memorial marker

a space in a wall of a columbarium or mausoleum made for placing urns containing cremated remains

a public notice of the death of a person, usually placed in a newspaper, that contains information about the person, and may indicate funeral plans and preferences for memorials

individuals who carry the casket during funeral service; may be hired or may be close friends and relatives of the deceased

Perpetual Care Fee
the fee charged by the cemetery to maintain the grave site and grounds

a specific area of ground in a cemetery purchased by a family or individual for the right to bury or be buried; usually contains two or more grave sites

Pre-need Funeral Contract
a contract or agreement that identifies services and goods to be provided, including the cost, before the services and goods are needed; payment may be through a trust and/or insurance

Private Service
an invitation only service to honor the deceased; may be held at a place of worship, a funeral home or a family home

the process of attendees of the funeral service going, by vehicle, to the cemetery; usually has a police escort; also term used to apply to mourners at a church service following the casket as it is brought into and taken out of the church

Refrigeration Fee
a fee charged by some funeral homes for cooling the body when embalming is not selected; can be declined by the customer

a book for recording the names of people visiting the funeral home to pay their respects to the deceased; may be used by the family to record other meaningful information

the body of the deceased

Reposing Room
a room of the funeral home where a body lies "in state" from the time it is put in the casket until the time of the funeral service

Slumber Room
a room equipped with a bed upon which the deceased is placed prior to being put in the casket on the day of the funeral; the body, appropriately dressed, lies "in state" on the bed

a place for the burial of a body, usually considered underground

Topical Disinfection Fee
external cleansing of the body; can be declined by the customer; included in the cost of embalming

Transfer of Remains Fee
a fee charged for transporting the body to the funeral home or crematory

a container into which cremated remains are placed

an opportunity for family and friends to view the deceased in private, usually in a special room within the funeral home

a vigil (devotional watch) kept over the deceased the night before the funeral


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