GLOSSARY OF TERMS

AMBULANCE

An automotive vehicle especially constructed and equipped to transport injured, sick or incapacitated persons.

ARRANGEMENT ROOM

A room of the funeral home used to make the necessary funeral arrangements with the family of the deceased.

BACKGROUND DRAPES

Decorative drapes (usually made of velour) arranged on a frame and placed behind the casket as a background,

BEREAVED

The immediate family of the deceased; suffering from grief upon the death of a loved one.

BURIAL

Placing of the deceased in an underground chamber - earth burial interment.

BURIAL CERTIFICATE OR PERMIT

A legal paper issued by the local government authorizing burial. The permit may authorize earth burial or cremation or removal to a distant point.

BURIAL GARMENTS

Wearing apparel made especially for the deceased.

BURIAL INSURANCE

An insurance policy in which the benefit is paid in a funeral service and merchandise rather than cash.

CANOPY

A roof-like structure projecting from the outside wall over the driveway allowing passengers to enter or exit vehicles without being directly exposed to the elements; also a portable canvas shelter used to cover the grave area during a funeral service.

CASKET

A receptacle of wood, metal or plastic into which the deceased is placed for burial. Sometimes referred to as "coffin" or "burial case"

CASKET COACH

Hearse - A motor vehicle designed and used transporting the deceased in a casket from the place of the funeral service to the cemetery. Also known as a Funeral Coach.

CASKETING

Placing of the deceased in the casket upon completion of embalming, dressing, etc.

CASKET RACK

A device that allows caskets to be placed one on top of the other for display purposes.

CASKET VEIL

A silk or transparent net covering for the casket for the purpose of keeping insects from the deceased. Not usually utilized in climate-controlled environments such as a funeral home

CATAFALQUE

A stand upon which the casket rests while the deceased lies in state and during the funeral service.

CEMETERY

An area of ground set aside for burial or entombment of the deceased.

CENOTAPH

An empty tomb or monument erected in memory or a person buried elsewhere.

CERTIFIED DEATH CERTIFICATE

A legalized copy of the original certificate, issued upon request by the local government for the purpose of substantiating various claims by the family of the deceased such as insurance and other death benefits.

CHAPEL

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

CHURCH TRUCK

A collapsible catafalque used for funerals.

CLIENTS

Those who employ the services of the funeral director.

COLUMBARIUM

A granite wall for interring cremated remains.

COMMITTAL SERVICE

The final portion of the funeral service at which time the deceased is interred or entombed.

CORONER

A public official whose duty it is to investigate the case of death if it appears to be from other than natural causes, or if there was no physician in attendance for a long time prior to death.

CORTEGE

The funeral procession.

COSMETOLOGY

Utilization of cosmetics to restore life like appearance to the deceased.

CREMATION

Reduction of the body to ashes by fire.

CREMATION PERMIT

A certificate issued by local government authorizing cremation of the deceased.

CREMATORY

A furnace for cremating remains - a building housing such a furnace.

CRYPT

A vault or room used for keeping remains long-term.

COT

The stretcher-like carrier used to remove deceased persons from the place of death to the funeral home.

DEATH

Cessation of all vital functions without the capability of resuscitation.

DEATH CERTIFICATE

A legal paper signed by the attending physician showing the cause of death and other vital statistical data pertaining to the deceased.

DEATH NOTICE

That paragraph in the obituary section of a newspaper, or on the Internet where it's commonly called a memorial, publicizing the death of a person and giving those details of the funeral service the survivors wish to have published. Most such notices list the names of the relatives of the deceased.

DECEASED

one in whom all physical life has ceased; dead.

DISINTER

To remove the remains from the burial place; to dig up. Usually undertaken only for the most extreme circumstances.

DISPLAY ROOM

Room in the funeral home in which caskets, urns, burial garments and sometimes vaults are displayed.

EMBALM

The process of preserving a dead body by means of circulating preservative and antiseptic through the veins and arteries of the deceased.

EMBALMER

One who disinfects or preserves the deceased by the injection or external application of antiseptics, disinfectants or preservative fluids; prepares human bodies for transportation; or uses derma surgery or plastic art for restoring mutilated features.

EMBALMING FLUID

Liquid chemicals used in preserving the deceased.

EMBALMING TABLE

An operating table usually constructed of metal with a porcelain surface upon which the remains are placed for embalming.

ETHICS

The moral code which guides the members of the profession in proper conduct of their duties and obligations.

EULOGY

A brief speech that offers praise and celebrates the life of the person who has died.

EXHUME

To dig up the remains; to remove from the place of burial. Same as disinter.

FAMILY CAR

That limousine in the funeral procession set aside for the use of the immediate family.

FAMILY ROOM

A specially arranged room in the funeral home that affords the family privacy at the time of the funeral service.

FLOWER BEARER

An individual who walks before or behind the casket carrying flower tributes sent to the family.

FLOWER CAR

A vehicle used for the transportation of flower pieces from the funeral home to the church and/or cemetery.

FLOWER RACKS AND STANDS

Wooden or metal stands and racks of varying heights used for banking flowers around the casket.

FINAL RITES

The funeral service.

FIRST CALL

The initial visit of the funeral director to the place of death for the purpose of removing the deceased and to secure certain information for which he has immediate need.

FUNERAL COACH

See Casket Coach.

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS

Funeral director's conference with the family for the purpose of completing financial and service details of a funeral.

FUNERAL DIRECTOR

A professional who prepares for the burial or other disposition of dead human bodies, supervises such burial or disposition, maintains a funeral establishment for such purposes, counsels with survivors. Synonym: mortician, undertaker.

FUNERAL HOME

A building used for the purpose of embalming, arranging and conducting funerals.

FUNERAL SERVICE

1) The profession which deals with the handling of dead human bodies; 2) The religious or other rites conducted immediately before final disposition of the deceased.

FUNERAL SPRAY

A collective mass of cut flowers sent to the residence of the deceased or to the funeral home as a floral tribute to the deceased.

GRAVE

An excavation in the earth for the purpose of burying the deceased.

GRAVE LINER

A receptacle made of concrete, metal or wood into which the casket is placed as an extra precaution in protecting the remains from the elements.

GRAVE (OR MEMORIAL) MARKER

A method of identifying the occupant of a particular grave. Permanent grave markers are usually of metal or stone that gives such data as the name of the individual, date and place of birth, date and place of death.

HONORARY PALLBEARERS

Friends or members of a religious, social or fraternal organization who act as an escort or honor guard for the deceased. Honorary pallbearers do not carry the casket.

INQUEST

An official inquiry or examination usually before a jury to determine the case of death.

IN STATE

The custom of availing the deceased for viewing by relatives and friends prior to or after the funeral service.

INSTRUMENTS

The varied tools required in the embalming operation.

INTER

To bury a dead body in the earth in a grave or tomb.

INURNMENT

The placing of the ashes of one cremated in an urn.

LEAD CAR

The vehicle in which the funeral director and sometimes the clergyman rides. When the procession is formed, the lead car moves to the head of it and leads the procession to the church and/or cemetery.

LICENSE

An authorization from the state granting permission to perform duties that, without such permission, would be illegal.

LIMOUSINE

An automobile designed to seat five or more persons behind the driver's seat.

LOWERING DEVICE

A mechanism used for lowering the casket into the grave. Placed over the open grave, the apparatus has two or more straps that support the casket over the opening. Upon release of the mechanism, the straps unwind from a cylinder and slowly lower the casket into the grave.

MASS CARDS

A card indicating that a Mass for the deceased has been arranged. (Catholic Religion)

MAUSOLEUM

A public or private building especially designed to receive entombments. A permanent above ground resting place for the dead.

MEDICAL EXAMINER

A government official, usually appointed, who has a thorough medical knowledge and whose function is to perform an autopsy on bodies dead from violence, suicide, crime, etc., and to investigate circumstances of death.

MEMORIAL DONATION

A memorial contribution specified to a particular cause or charity, usually in lieu of flowers.

MEMORIAL SERVICE

A religious service conducted in memory of the deceased without the remains being present.

MINISTER'S ROOM

A room in the funeral home set aside for the clergyman wherein he can robe and make any last minute preparations for the funeral service.

MORGUE

A place to where bodies found dead are removed and stored pending identification by relatives.

MORTICIAN

See funeral director.

MORTUARY

A synonym for funeral home - a building specifically designed and constructed for caring for the dead.

MORTUARY SCIENCE

That part of the funeral service profession dealing with the proper preparation of the body for final disposition.

MOURNER

One who is present at the funeral out of affection or respect for the deceased.

NICHE

A hollowed space in a wall made especially for placing of urns containing cremated remains.

OBITUARY

A notice of the death of a person usually placed in a newspaper, or on the Internet where it’s commonly called a memorial, containing a biographical sketch of the deceased.

ONLINE MEMORIAL

A notice of the death of a person usually placed in a newspaper, or on the Internet, containing a biographical sketch. (Also known as an obituary.)

PALLBEARERS

Individuals whose duty is to carry the casket when necessary during funeral service. Pallbearers in some parts of the country are hired while in other locations these are close friends and relatives of the deceased.

PLOT

A specific area of ground in a cemetery owned by a family or individual. A plot usually contains two or more graves.

PREARRANGED FUNERAL

Funeral arrangements completed by an individual prior to his/her death.

PREARRANGED FUNERAL TRUST

A method by which an individual can prepay their funeral expenses.

PREPARATION ROOM

A room in a funeral home designed and equipped for preparing the deceased for final disposition,

PREPARATION TABLE

An operating table located in the preparation room upon which the body is placed for embalming and dressing.

PRIVATE SERVICE

This service is by invitation only and may be held at a place of worship, a funeral home or a family home.

PROCESSION

The vehicular movement of the funeral from the place where the funeral service was conducted to the cemetery. May also apply to a church funeral where the mourners follow the casket as it is brought into and taken out of the church.

REGISTER

A book made available by the funeral director for recording the names of people visiting the funeral home to pay their respects to the deceased. Also has space for entering other data such as name, dates of birth and death of the deceased, name of the officiating clergyman, place of interment, time and date of service, list of floral tributes, etc.

REMAINS

The deceased.

REPOSING ROOM

A room of the funeral home where a body lies in state from the time it is placed in the casket until the time of the funeral service.

RESTORATIVE ART

Derma surgery - The process of restoring mutilated and distorted features by employing wax, creams, plaster, etc.

RIGOR MORTIS

Rigidity of the muscles which occurs at death.

SERVICE CAR

Usually a utility vehicle to which tasteful ornamentation may be added in the form of a metal firm name plate, post lamps, etc. It is utilized to transport chairs, church trucks, flower stands, shipping cases, etc.

SLUMBER ROOM

A room equipped with, besides the usual furniture, a bed upon which the deceased lies prior to being placed in the casket on the day of the funeral. The body, appropriately dressed, lies in state on the bed.

SPIRITUAL BANQUET

A Roman Catholic practice involving specific prayers, such as Masses and Rosaries offered by an individual or a group for a definite purpose.

SURVIVOR

The persons outliving the deceased, particularly the immediate family.

SYMPATHY CARD

A card sent to the family to express their sympathy.

TRANSIT PERMIT

A legal paper issued by the local government authorizing removal of a body to a cemetery for interment. Some cities also require an additional permit if the deceased is to be cremated.

URN

A container into which cremated remains are placed, made of metal, wood or stone.

VAULT

A burial chamber underground or partly so. Also includes the outside metal or concrete casket container.

VIGIL

A Roman Catholic religious service held on the eve of the funeral service.

VISITATION

An opportunity for survivors and friends to view the deceased in private, usually in a special room within the funeral home.

WAKE

A watch kept over the deceased, sometimes lasting the entire night preceding the funeral. Depending upon the family’s beliefs, sometimes a festive occasion.