As the planning begins, you may be introduced to new words and terms that are associated with the funeral planning process. We have provided a quick glossary for your reference.


  • Arrangement conference – The meeting with the funeral director in which you discuss your wishes for the funeral and the disposition of the body
  • Burial – Also called interment, earth burial at a cemetery is the most traditional method for final disposition of the body
  • Celebrant – A person who provides personalized services to a family to create a meaningful ceremony or ritual during a life transition
  • Columbarium – An above-ground structure for final disposition of cremated remains
  • Committal Service – A brief graveside ceremony held with the casket or urn present before it is lowered into the ground
  • Cremation – A form of disposition that involves reducing the body through intense heat to cremated remains
  • Crypt – An above ground burial site in a mausoleum
  • Direct cremation – Cremation without a funeral or memorial service
  • Embalming – A method of preserving the body for a number of days following the death, allowing the family to view the body and hold the funeral service on a day that is convenient for out-of-town friends and relatives
  • Entombment – Placement of the casket in an above-ground structure called a mausoleum
  • Funeral – The ceremony that honors the end of a person’s life
  • Grave liner – An unlined outer burial container
  • Honorarium – The fee typically paid to a clergyperson or celebrant for officiating the funeral ceremony and to musicians or soloists for their contributions
  • Mausoleum – A small building in a cemetery that is like a burial plot above the ground
  • Niche – One of a number of recesses in the wall of a columbarium where the urn containing cremated remains is placed
  • Obituary – A notice in the newspaper that announces the death to the community, summarizes the person’s life and invites readers to attend the funeral and/or make memorial contributions in the name of the person who died
  • Pallbearers – The people who carry the casket from the ceremony to the hearse and from the hearse to the gravesite
  • Urn – A small vase-like container specially designed for holding cremated remains
  • Vault – A concrete or metal container into which the casket is placed before burial at a cemetery
  • Visitation – A scheduled time for family and friends to see the person who died, perhaps for the final time