Glossary Of Terms


Arrangement Room: The room where the Funeral Consultant, and the deceased’s family, make arrangements for the funeral.

Autopsy: Medical procedure used to determine the cause of death.

Bereaved: Someone who is experiencing bereavement.

Bereavement: Experiencing grief due to experiencing a loss.

Bier: (Pronounced “beer”).A fixed stand on which a coffin/casket is placed for a viewing. Sometimes a mattress is placed on the bier and the person is viewed as if lying in bed.

Burial: Placing a casket or coffin in a grave (also called interment).

Casket: A rectangular container for holding the body of the deceased. A casket can be made of wood or metal.

Casket/Coffin Flowers: A collection of flowers placed on top of coffin/casket for the funeral service.

Catafalque: A platform sometimes used in funerals on which the coffin/casket stands.

Chapel: A room at the funeral company premises where services are held.

Coffin: A body shaped container for holding the body of the deceased – usually constructed of wood.

Columbarium: A structure with niches (small spaces) for placement of cremated remains in urn containers. It may be outdoors or part of a mausoleum.

Commital Service: The last part of the funeral service that deals with interring or burying the deceased’s body.

Coroner: A government official who may be required to perform an autopsy.

Cortege: The procession of cars led by the hearse which travels from the funeral service to the place of interment.

Cremated Remains: The remains of the body after a cremation.

Cremations: Reduction of the body by fire to ashes and fragments.

Cremator: A furnace used for the cremation process.

Crypt: An above-ground chamber used for the keeping of remains.

Death Certificate: A legal paper signed by the attending physician showing the cause of death.

Deceased: A person who has departed from life.

Embalm: This process preserves a dead body to delay decomposition, enables the body to be presented for viewing and prevents transfer of infections.

Embalmer: Person who embalms.

Entombment: Burial in a mausoleum.

Exhume: To take out of a grave or tomb.

Floral Tribute: Flowers on display at funeral sent out of respect to the deceased by family and friends.

Fully Paid Funeral Plan: Where an individual decides to pre-pay for his/her funeral arrangements prior to death occurring.

Funeral Arrangements: Making the preparations and decisions associated with the funeral.

Funeral Director: The professional who supervises and/or prepares the final disposition and oversees funeral preparations.

Funeral Service: The ceremony conducted immediately before the interment or committal service.

Grave: The space in the earth in a cemetery where the coffin/casket will be placed with the remains of the deceased.

Headstone: An above ground marker that identifies the occupant of a particular grave.

Hearse: The vehicle that carries the casket/coffin from the church or funeral chapel to the cemetery or crematorium.

Interment: Burial in the ground or entombment.

Inurnment: The placing of cremated remains in an urn.

Mausoleum: An above ground building built and designed to receive entombments.

Memorial Book: A book that is available to record names of those who attend the funeral services.

Memorial Service: A service conducted in memory of the deceased without the presence of the remains.

Mortuary: The building used for safe-keeping and embalming of the body of the deceased.

Mourner: A person who attends the funeral out of respect for the family.

Mourning Coach: A car assigned for the immediate family which follows the hearse in the funeral procession.

Niche: A compartment, usually in a wall, in a columbarium or mausoleum which holds cremated remains of the deceased.

Obituary: A notice of death that is usually placed in the newspaper.

Plot: An area of cemetery land that is usually reserved for two or more burials.

Pre-need Arrangements: When funeral arrangements are completed prior to a person’s death.

Remains: The body of the deceased.

Selection Room: A room which holds coffins and caskets for display purposes to allow the family a choice for the deceased.

Urn: A container for the cremated remains of the deceased.

Vault: A grave liner that completely encloses the casket.

Viewing: A time set aside for mourners to visit the deceased in an open coffin to pay final respects.

Vigil: A Roman Catholic service held on the evening before a funeral service.

For help or advice on arranging funerals, please call our toll-free number at
1800 055 311
We are available 24 hours a day.