Glossary of Terms

Funeral arranging is something that the average person doesn't encounter every day. In our effort to educate you and keep you feeling
informed, we've prepared a list of commonly used terms that you may need clarification on through the process.

A raised structure often found in churches and chapels from which services are delivered or offerings are made for religious purposes.


A person who has suffered the death of someone they loved.


The raised structure that supports a casket while it is being displayed for funerary purposes.


The term used to refer to something that can break down naturally in the elements of earth or water.


Refers to the deceased’s physical human body. May be used to describe a cremated body.


The act of placement of a dead body into the ground. Often termed interment.


Burial Permit
A document issued by a local authority typically where the death is registered with a government official allowing the dead body to be buried, cremated or possibly repatriated.


A four sided rectangular receptacle used to contain a dead human body for funerary purposes. Often made of wood, metal or both.


A formal raised structure used to support a casket common in old churches


A registered plot of land designed to contain the burials and entombments of deceased persons.

Certified Death Certificate

A legalized copy of either or both of  the original Medical Certificate of Death and or the Statement of Death. Requested from the centre for Vital Statistics in Ontario. Typically used for insurance purposes or matters outside of Ontario.

A formal or informal space used to perform ceremonies. Often disassociated with a single faith.


A formal space used in congregating attendees of religious services and ceremonies. Often associated with particular religions.


Church Truck
A wheeling, portable device used to support and transport a casket for funerary purposes.


A term widely used outside of North America describing a receptacle that tapers from the shoulders used to contain a dead human body for funerary purposes. Often made of wood, metal or both. Coffins are not typical in North America.


An above ground wall, indoors or outdoors containing niches that accommodate the urn of someone who has been cremated.


The religious term often used to describe the rites given while burying or interring a body.

In Ontario, a Medical Doctor who has been appointed to investigate deaths. Often times utilized if the deceased person was not in the care of a physician or there is cause to further investigate a death.


Coroner’s Cremation Certificate
A document signed by the Ontario Coroner who has approves the deceased person’s body to be cremated. This is considered because cremation is irreversible.


A formal term describing the funeral procession often times en route to ceremony or burial.


The process of reducing the dead human body by means of extreme heat. The product of cremation is calcium typically left from a deceased person’s bone and teeth.


The licensed, physical building in which cremation can take place.


Cremation Certificate
The document provided along with the cremated body stating particulars about the cremation and identity of the cremated body. This is required by all cemeteries if interment of the cremated body takes place.


A term denoting regrets paid on the loss or death of someone.


The area in which a casket is placed usually inside of a mausoleum.


The medical term used to denote cessation of all vital functions with inability of recovery or resuscitation.


Death Certificate
A very misunderstood and misnamed document. This may be referring to the actual Medical Certificate of Death signed by the attending Physician, or may also be considered the Proof of Death Certificate issued by the funeral home for estate purposes. It may also refer to the legalized Medical Certificate of Death and or the Statement of Death.


Death Benefit

A benefit available through Canada Pension Plan (CPP) as a one-time lump sum payment available to eligible contributor’s estates.


Death Notice
The term often used for an obituary announcing someone’s death. Usually seen in a newspaper for notification purposes.


A person who has died.


An individual term for a deceased person or person who has died.


An implanted device in the chest of a person with a heart condition. This must be removed and safely disposed of prior to cremation.


Disinter / Disinterment
The act of removing a dead human body from their burial place. Often done to move the body to another place of burial. This is a regulated process.


A term denoting something less costly.


A term used to denote less harmful for the environment.


The act of preserving, disinfecting and restoring a dead human body. This is done by a licensed professional and is common in North American funeral practices.


The residue of a deceased person’s possessions and monies and entitlements.


Often an integral part of a traditional funeral ceremony whereby a speech is delivered about the deceased person and their life.


The male term for a man named by a testator or the person who made a will to handle the dispersal of the estate and wishes of the deceased.


The female term for a woman named by a testator or the person who made a will to handle the dispersal of the estate and wishes of the deceased.


As disinter.  To remove a dead human body from their place of burial to another place.


A term for the permanent memorial placed at the foot of one’s grave.


The ceremony, celebration or rites given to a deceased person. There are often many components to the funeral.


Funeral Coach
A specialized, traditional vehicle designed to carry the casket of a deceased person throughout their funeral process. Often called a hearse.


Funeral Home
A building designed for the care of deceased persons and to arrange for and hold their funeral services.


A space dug into the ground designed to hold the body of a deceased person or their cremated body.


A traditional term used to refer to the land specified for burial of the dead.


A permanent memorial placed at the head end of a grave marking the identity of who is buried there.


Honour Guard
A selected group of officials chosen to guide or line the path of a funeral procession.


Honourary Pallbearers
A selected group of officials chosen to guide the active pallbearers during a funeral ceremony.


The writing placed on a permanent memorial at a cemetery or on an urn or memorial.


Inter / Interment
A term used for burying the deceased.


An unofficial term referring to the interment of an urn either into the ground or into a columbarium.


Keepsake Urn
A small vessel separate from the main urn which contains the cremated body of a deceased person.


A small bench made available for individuals who wish to say a prayer at the casket or urn of a deceased person. Often called a prayer rail.


Lead Car
The first car guiding the funeral procession.


Letter of Assignment
A document signed by the executor(s) of a Will assigning another person(s) the ability to commence funeral arrangements on their behalf.


Letter of Contents
A document signed often by the cremator operator stating what has been placed inside of said urn or container.

A car designed to carry numerous people often part of a funeral procession.


A non-protective structure placed in the ground for casket burial. Often for structural support of the grave site.


Lowering Device
A mechanical device designed to allow for the safe placement of a casket from ground level into the grave.


A Roman Catholic term used to describe a service whereby Communion is provided during the service. A Funeral Mass is a special Mass given for a deceased Roman Catholic Person.


Mass Card
A note provided to the family stating that a Mass will be said in memory of the deceased.


An above ground structure designed to contain the caskets and urns of deceased people. Crypts for caskets and niches for urns are the receptacles used within a mausoleum.


Memorial Service
A term used loosely to describe a funeral service without the physical body of the deceased person. Often a photography or an urn may be present.


Memorial Donation
financial pledge made to an organization often times in lieu of flowers in memory of a deceased person.


Typically an upright stone commemorating a deceased person.


A special area often within a health care institution to house deceased people before transport to a funeral home or elsewhere.


A more widely used term in the USA to describe an embalmer or person who cares for the deceased.


A more widely used term in the USA to describe a funeral home or place where deceased persons are cared for.


A small area in which urns are placed. Often times part of a mausoleum or columbarium.


A term used to describe the announcement written about someone’s death. Often times found in a newspaper or online.


An implanted device in the chest of a person with a heart condition. It is necessary that this be removed from the deceased and safely disposed of prior to cremation.


The cloth used to cover the casket typically of an Anglican or Roman Catholic person symbolizing unity or the remembrance of baptism.


The persons chosen to carry the casket of a deceased person. Often times includes 6.


A piece of land in a cemetery which has been purchased by an owner for burials. These are usually numbered and sectioned by codes.


Power of Attorney
A legalized document stating a person or persons responsible for either personal care and or property of a person who may be incapable of handling such. This document is considered when it has be activated. It has no legal bearing once death has occurred.


The funeral arrangement which has been made before a death occurs. Oftentimes includes prepayment of funeral services where monies are then placed in trust, or an insurance policy.


A document and process in the beginning states of settlement of an estate.


The actual traveling of a series of vehicles en route to funeral services.


Proof of Death Certificate
A certificate signed by the Funeral Director with information relating to the deceased person. These certificates are used to settle estate related matters.


Register / Register Book
A formal book that is available for guests to sign upon arrival at funeral services.


Prayer Card
A small card intended to act as a memorial of the deceased person whereby a prayer is listed for them.


Prayer Rail
A small bench made available for individuals who wish to say a prayer at the casket or urn of a deceased person. Often called kneeler.


A term used often referring to the body or cremated body of a deceased person.


The process of returning a deceased person to their homeland. This can be done as a whole body or a cremated body and must comply with several regulations.


Restorative Arts
The creative skill utilized to help restore a deceased person’s physical appearance after illness or trauma.

The actual chamber inside of a crematorium in which the cremation takes place.

Rigor Mortis
The post-mortem contraction of all muscles in the dead human body. Rigor mortis is a natural process that relieves itself over a period of time.


Dispersing a cremated body in an uncontained manner. This can be done in registered scattering gardens but is often done independently by families. Scattering is irreversible.


Any individual who is still living after the deceased.


Survivor’s Benefits
A term used by Canada Pension Plan (CPP) referring to the benefit available to dependents after a death of a CPP contributor.


A vessel used to contain the cremated body of a deceased person.


An outer vessel used for caskets or urns in cemeteries to protect the casket or urn and its contents. These can be made of concrete and lined with several materials and also seal closed.


The event hosted to allow for friends and relatives of a deceased person to acknowledge of the death and pay tribute to the deceased while paying condolences to the family.


A traditional term denoting a watch kept over the deceased around the clock prior to the burial. This is often understood as a visitation or a post-funeral party.


Will / Last Will and Testament
A legal document made by the deceased person outlining wishes for dispersal of their estate. The executor(s)/executrix of the Will are solely responsible for completing funeral arrangements.


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