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What Does That Mean?

As you begin to make arrangements, you may run into new words and terms related to funeral planning. To help you feel comfortable throughout the process, we have provided a glossary of these terms.


| A-B| C-D | E-F | G-H | I-J | K-L| M-N | O-P | Q-R | S-T | U-V | W-X | Y-Z |

After Care
After Care services help families recovering from a death. These services include support, education, and practical guidance.

Arrangement Room
The designated room used by family members and the funeral consultant to make funeral arrangements.

Ashes
The cremated remains of a body are commonly known as “ashes” but are actually finely processed bone fragments.

Beneficiary
The person using the funeral services or supplies, as outlined in a contract.

Bereaved
(Noun) The immediate family of the deceased.

(Verb) Suffering from grief upon the death of a loved one.

Bereavement
The grief experienced following a death.

Burial
Placing a body or cremated remains in a lot or grave, or the scattering of cremated remains.

Burial Certificate or Permit
A legal paper from local government authorizing a burial. The burial certificate is also one of the necessary documents required to authorize a cremation or removal of remains.

Burial Rights
See Interment Rights.

Burial Rights Holder

See "Interment Rights Holder."

Burial Rites

Specific practices observed by religious or cultural groups; examples include a funeral service before burial as opposed to a memorial service after interment.

By-laws
The rules and regulations under which the Cemetery operates.

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Care and Maintenance Fund
Under Ontario law, when an internment right is sold, a percentage of the purchase price is set aside for the general care and maintenance of the cemetery.

Casket
A container designed to hold a body for burial, entombment or cremation. Usually made of wood, metal or fibre board.

Casketing
Placing a body in a casket following preparation.

Catafalque
A stand designed to hold the casket in state during visitation and the funeral service.

Celebration of Life:
A reflection on someone’s life rather than death. Often, friends and family are invited to share memories and stories that evoke the essence of the person. It’s also a way for people to show appreciation for what someone may have done to enrich their life.

Cemetery
An area of land reserved exclusively for burial.

Chapel
A large room of the funeral home in which the farewell service is held.

Coffin
See “Casket.”

Columbarium
A structure with individual compartments, or “niches,” designed to hold cremated remains.

Commemorate
To celebrate or pay tribute to a person’s life. A commemoration can be a memorial service, gathering, speech, planting, or any other act of remembrance.

Committal Service
The final portion of the funeral service when burial or entombment takes place.

Coroner
A public official an, in some cases, a constitutional officer who certifies an individual’s death and investigates the cause of if it appears to be from non-natural causes.

Cortege
The funeral procession.

Cremated Remains
Commonly known as “ashes,” but they are the finely processed bone fragments left after cremation.

Cremation
A process where the body, held in a cremation container, is placed into a cremation chamber and heat is applied consuming all organic matter, leaving behind the cremated remains.

Cremation Burial Plot
A a small area that can be excavated to bury an urn holding cremated remains. It will usually accommodate up to two urns and has a granite or bronze marker set flush on the ground for memorialization.

Cremation Centre
A place where the cremation occurs.

Cremation Ossuary
A safe repository for cremated remains in a common vault.

Cremation Urn
A container used to hold cremated remains after cremation.

Crematorium
A place where the cremation takes place.

Crypt
An individual space in a Mausoleum in which human remains are placed.

Death Certificate
A legal paper signed by the attending physician showing the cause of death as well as other information about the deceased.

Death Notice
A notice listed online or in a newspaper or other public forum announcing someone’s death. It usually includes details of the funeral service and names of the immediate family; see “Obituary.”

Disbursement
A payment made by a funeral director on behalf of someone who has paid for a funeral service or supplies.

Display Room
A designated room in a funeral home used to display caskets, urns, burial garments and vaults.

Disposition
The final burial option for a person’s remains. Disposition includes ground burial, entombment, scattering or placement of ashes in an urn and/or a niche, donation to a research facility or burial at sea (not permitted in the Great Lakes).

Dove Release
The release of doves at the end of a committal service. In a dove release, the flock ascends and circles away. Shortly after, a single white dove is released to represent the deceased’s spirit, joining the flock to make the “spiritual flight home.”

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Embalming
Embalming is the temporary disinfection, preservation and restoration of a body. Washing, dressing and use of cosmetics are also a part of this process.

Entombment
Placing a casket in a crypt or placing an urn containing cremated remains into a niche.

Family Car
A limousine, used in the funeral procession, set aside for close family and friends. Often provided by the funeral director.

Floral Tribute
Flowers on display at a funeral service, sent by family and friends out of respect.

Flower Car
A vehicle used to transport floral arrangements from the funeral home to the church and/or cemetery.

Funeral Arrangements
Making the preparations and decisions associated with arranging a funeral.

Funeral Centre
A building in which a body is prepared for burial or cremation. Wakes and funerals are also held here.

Funeral Coach
See “Hearse.”

Funeral Director
A certified professional licensed to prepare bodies for burials and cremations and also to supervise these burials. The funeral director also operates the funeral centre and counsels with surviving family members.

Funeral Home
See “Funeral Centre.”

Funeral Service
The religious or other rites performed before a body is interred; the final rites.

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Grave
Any interment right that permits a grave marker (or memorial) to be set flush and level with the ground or attached to an adjacent feature wall.

Hearse
Typically a luxury station wagon, designed specifically with rollers and turntables to easily transport a casket.

Honorary Pallbearers
These are friends or members of a religious or social organization that act as an escort or “honour guard” for someone who has died. Honorary pallbearers do not carry the casket.

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Inscription
Words inscribed on a monument or marker, crypt or niche front, or in a book commemorating the deceased.

Interment Right
The right to determine who can be buried or entombed in a grave, lot, niche or crypt, and what the memorialization may be.

Interment Rights Certificate
A document issued by the cemetery when interment rights have been paid in full. It specifies the owner of the interment rights, memorialization options and planting restrictions.

Interment Rights Holder
A person, firm, or corporation holding the right to determine the burial or removal of the deceased, and to direct the memorialization. This is specified in an interment right registered in cemetery records.

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Lead Car
The vehicle used by the funeral director and sometimes a clergyman to lead the funeral procession to the church and cemetery.

Lot
Any interment right that permits an upright monument to be erected in the monument space. A lot may have more than one grave within it; see “Grave.”

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Marker
A bronze or granite memorial, set flush and level with the ground in the marker space, except when attached to a feature wall or boulder adjacent to the grave.

Marker Space
Unless otherwise specified on the interment rights certificate, a marker space is the area designated to place a grave marker.

Mausoleum
A structure or building designed with individual compartments, or “crypts,” where caskets are placed for entombment.

Memorial
A marker, monument, columbarium niche front, mausoleum crypt front, or any other form used to inscribe the names of individuals buried or entombed within the cemetery.

Memorial Service
A service performed in memory of the deceased without the remains being present.

Monument
An above-ground memorial, made of granite, placed upright within the designated monument space of a lot.

Monument Base
Made of granite, the monument base sits on the monument’s concrete foundation to stabilize and protect the monument diestone.

Monument Diestone
The diestone contains the design and memorial inscription and is set on the monument base.

Monument Foundation
A concrete foundation matches the footprint of the monument base and is set in the ground at least 137 cm (4 ft. 6 in.) deep.

Monument Space
An area of a lot designated to hold the monument and planting space.

Niche
A compartment in a mausoleum or columbarium designed to place an urn holding cremated remains.

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Obituary
A type of notice listed online or in a newspaper announcing the deceased’s death, often with details about their life and family.

Ossuary
A safe repository for cremated remains in a common vault.

Pall
A cloth spread over a casket or coffin, usually made of black, purple, or white velvet.

Pallbearers
Typically, pallbearers are close friends and relatives who carry the casket during a funeral service. In some cases, pallbearers can be hired.

Pre-Arranged Funeral
Funeral arrangements completed by someone prior to his/her death.

Pre-Need
A funeral arrangement made prior to death, usually through a cemetery, funeral home or a Pre-Need insurance company. This can be a list of arrangements for a funeral: merchandise; cemetery plot location; memorials; songs; pallbearers; and so on. Funding for a Pre-Need contract is usually set up through an insurance policy, or prepaid into a trust or other investment.

Pre-Paid Contract
An agreement arranged by someone prior to death, to ensure that funeral services are provided when they die. Payment for pre-paid contracts is usually set up through an insurance policy or plan, where the funeral provider receives the proceeds of the policy upon the beneficiary’s death

Pre-Payment
The payment or the guarantee of a payment pertaining to a pre-paid contract.

Pre-Payment Funds
Money and interest placed in trust, under the provisions of the Act. It also includes the proceeds of an insurance policy received by a licensee.

Procession
A line of vehicles traveling together from the funeral home to the cemetery. It may also refer to a group of mourners following the casket as it is brought into and out of the church. 

Purchaser
A person who has purchased interment rights, products or services, and is named as such on the interment rights contract. It can also refer to a person who has accepted the financial responsibility of a funeral service contract.

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Register Book
A book made available at the funeral home to record the names of visitors paying their respects. The register also has space for other records, including name, dates of birth and death, name of the officiating clergy, place of interment, details of the service, list of floral tributes, and more.

Removal
The removal of a body – including cremated remains – from a closed or sealed grave, lot, niche or crypt.

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Scattering
Placing a person’s cremated remains in a spot they may have specified. Some cemeteries have scattering gardens specifically for this purpose. Before scattering ashes on private property, get permission from landowners. Some services will scatter ashes from an airplane or boat over areas designated by the family.

Section
An area within a cemetery containing many graves or lots to make them easier to locate (e.g., Section B, Lot 450).

Traditional Service
A service performed in someone’s memory where the remains are present. Traditional services are usually preceded by a visitation.

Transfer Service
A service provided by the funeral home to transport the body to the funeral home and to fill out the necessary documentation for disposition.

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Urn
A container used to hold ashes after cremation; see “Cremation Urn.”

Vault
A grave liner made from concrete or steel, and lowered into a grave to protect the casket from the elements.

Viewing
A time set aside for mourners to visit the open casket/coffin and pay their final respects.

Visitation
An opportunity for close friends and family to view the casket in a more private setting, usually in a special room within the funeral home.

Wake
A traditional watch kept over the deceased, sometimes lasting the entire night before the funeral.

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