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Funeral Terms

At Williamsburg Memorial Park, we believe the more you know about funerals, the more comfortable you'll be with the process. That’s why we’ve put together this list of commonly used funeral terms. To find a specific term, simply click on one of the letters on the chalkboard. If you can't find the term you're looking for, give us a call and we'll be happy to help you.

Williamsburg Memorial Park
Your community cemetery.


Alternative Container: A container constructed of heavy cardboard or chipboard used to hold human remains for cremation.

Apportionment: Dividing cremated remains into portions for separate disposition. For example, a set of cremated remains could be divided into three portions, with one portion placed in an urn in a columbarium, another portion scattered in a favorite place, and yet another carried in a locket.

Arrangement Conference: The meeting with the funeral director in which you discuss your wishes for the funeral and disposition of the body

Ashes: See Cremated Remains.

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Bereaved: The immediate family of the deceased.

Burial: See Interment.

Burial Case: See Casket.

Burial Permit/Certificate: Legal permission issued by a local government authorizing burial or cremation.

Burial Insurance: See Funeral Insurance.

Burial Rights: The right to inter someone in a designated space in a cemetery.

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Canopy: A portable canvas shelter covering the grave area during a burial. Also called a Tent.

Casket: A container usually made from wood, metal, or fiberglass and designed to hold human remains.

Casket Coach: See Funeral Coach.

Catafalque: The stand on which a casket rests while instate and during the funeral service.

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

Cenotaph: An empty tomb, monument, or plaque erected in memory of a person whose remains lie elsewhere.

Certified Death Certificate: A legal copy of the original death certificate. This is provided by local authorities usually for the purposes of substantiating claims for insurance, etc.

Chapel: A large room in a funeral home dedicated to holding funeral services. Many modern day mausoleums include built-in chapels.

Coffin: An English-style, wedge-shaped casket, usually with six sides.

Columbarium: A building or part of a building containing niches designed to hold and memorialize cremated remains.

Committal Service: The final part of a funeral service during which the remains are buried or entombed.

Cortege: See Funeral Procession.

Cremated Remains: Also called Ashes. The portion of a body remaining after cremation.

Cremation: Reduction of the body to cremated remains by fire.

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

Crematory: A specially designed furnace for cremating human remains, or a building housing such a furnace.

Crypt: Vault or room used for keeping remains.

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Death Certificate: A legal document signed by a physician showing cause of death and other information about the deceased.

Death Notice: A notice placed in the relevant section of a newspaper informing people of a persons death and giving those funeral details the survivors wish published. Most include the names of the deceased person's closest relatives.

Deceased: Person in whom all physical life has ceased. To be dead or the dead person.

Disinter: Also Exhume. To dig up the remains from the burial place. This may occur when a family wishes to rebury the remains in a family plot or move them to another cemetery.

Display Room: A room in a funeral home or cemetery where caskets, urns, memorial plaques, and other funeral- and memorial-related materials are displayed.

Disposition: See Final Disposition.

Door Badge: A floral arrangement placed on the door of a residence to announce that a death has occurred.

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Embalming: Filling the arteries, veins and body cavities of the deceased with antiseptic and preservative to delay the decay process.

Entombment: Placing the body in a tomb.

Eulogy: A form of public speaking at funerals to honor and praise the deceased.

Exhume: See Disinter.

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Family Car: A limousine used by the immediate family in a funeral procession.

Family Room: A room in the funeral home or cemetery where the family can have privacy at the time of the funeral.

Flower Car: Vehicle used to transport flowers from the funeral home to the church and/or cemetery.

Final Disposition: The last process the remains go through before burial.

Final Rites: The Funeral Service.

First Call: The funeral directors first visit to the place of death in order to remove the remains and obtain any information that is needed immediately.

Funeral Arrangements: A conference between the deceased's family and the Funeral Director to finalize the details of the funeral and relevant finances.

Funeral Coach: Also casket coach or hearse. A motor vehicle designed to convey the casket from the funeral service to the place of burial in the cemetery.

Funeral Director: A trained and certified professional who arranges and supervises the burial or cremation of human remains. Also called a mortician or undertaker.

Funeral Home: A building used for the purpose of embalming, arranging for and conducting funeral services.

Funeral Insurance: An insurance policy in which the principal is paid in funeral services and merchandise, rather than cash.

Funeral Procession: A procession, usually in motor vehicles, from the house of worship or chapel to the cemetery.

Funeral Service: The rites conducted immediately before final disposition of the dead body.

Funeral Spray: A large bouquet of cut flowers sent to the residence, funeral home, or cemetery, as a tribute to the deceased.

Funeral Trust: See Prearranged Funeral Trust.

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Grave: A hole excavated in the ground for the purposes of burial.

Grave Liner:
A receptacle made of concrete, metal, plastic or wood into which a casket is placed to protect the remains and prevent the grave from collapsing.

Grave Marker: See Memorial Marker.

Green Burial: Also called a direct burial. This is an eco-friendly process of burying a body in a simple container, without the use of chemical preservation.

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Hearse: See Funeral Coach.

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

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In State: See Viewing.

Inquest: An official inquiry, sometimes before a jury, to determine the cause of death.

Inter: To bury in a grave or tomb.

Interment: The placing of human remains in a traditional grave or in an underground tomb.

Inurnment: Placing cremated remains in an urn.

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Lead Car: The car leading the funeral procession.

Lowering Device: A mechanism used for lowering a Casket into a Grave.

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Mausoleum: A building containing aboveground tombs or crypts.

Memorial Marker: A permanent marker used to identify a grave, crypt, urn placement site, or other place of Final Disposition.

Memorial Service: A service conducted in memory of the deceased when the remains are not present.

Morgue: A place where human remains are kept pending autopsy or identification.

Mortician: See Funeral Director.

Mortuary: See Funeral Home.

Mourner: Someone who is present at the funeral out of love and/or respect for the deceased.

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Niche: A hollow space in a wall made for placing urns. It may be indoors or outdoors.

Niche Garden: An outdoor garden containing structures with niches.

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Obituary: A notice, usually in the newspaper, containing biographical details of the deceased.

Opening & Closing Fees: Cemetery fees for digging and refilling a grave.

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Pallbearers: Those who carry the casket during a funeral service, usually friends and relatives.

Perpetual Trust Fund: A portion of the cost of a burial plot set aside in a trust fund to be used for its ongoing care.

Plot: A privately owned piece of ground in a cemetery that contains two or more grave sites.

Prearranged Funeral: A funeral that has been arranged and paid for before the person's death. Also called pre-planned.

Prearranged Funeral Trust: A trust fund where money for prearranged funerals is held until needed. In most states trusts are established under state law and/or supervision.

Preparation Room: A specially designed room in the funeral home equipped for preparing the deceased for final disposition.

Pre-Planning/Pre-Need: Arranging all aspects of a funeral prior to one’s death–especially financing.

Procession: See Funeral Procession.

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Register: A book made available by the funeral director for recording the names of people who visit the funeral home to pay their respects.

Remains: The dead body of the deceased person.

Reposing Room: See Visitation Room.

Rigor Mortis: Cooling of the body and rigidity of the muscles that occur after death.

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Service Car: A vehicle belonging to the funeral home or cemetery that is used to transport chairs, flower stands, etc.

Slumber Room: A room containing a bed on which the deceased lies until being placed in a casket. In some cases the deceased may lie in state in the slumber room.

Survivors: Those who have outlived the deceased, especially family members

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Tent: See Canopy.

Tomb: A chamber excavated from earth or rock specifically for receiving human remains.

Transit Permit: A permit issued by a local authority allowing a body to be transported to the place of burial or cremation.

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Undertaker: See Funeral Director.

Urn: A container, usually metal, wood, or porcelain, into which cremated remains are permanently placed.

Urn Garden: A garden containing urn burial sites.

Urn Placement: Permanent placing of an urn into a niche or urn burial site.

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Vault: An underground burial chamber. Also a metal or concrete container for the casket. Williamsburg Memorial Park requires vaults for all in-ground burials.

Viewing: Allowing relatives to visit with and see the deceased before or after the funeral service.

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

Visitation: An opportunity for family and friends to view the deceased in private before the funeral service.

Visitation Room: A room in a funeral home where the body lies in state before the funeral service so people may view the deceased and spend time with other survivors.

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Wake: A watch kept over the deceased, sometimes lasting the entire night preceding the funeral service.

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