Burial Vault – An outer enclosure placed within the grave used to enclose the casket offering protection from the earth above and below, as well as provides a seal for the casket. The container is made of steel or concrete and must be approved by the cemetery. Cemeteries require burial vaults to prevent the ground from caving in years after a burial has been made.

Casket – A rigid container designed to encase human remains for burial or entombment. A casket may be made of wood, metal, or other material. Caskets designed and/or used for cremation are often called “cremation containers.”

Crematory – A specially designed furnace or retort for cremating dead human bodies.

Cemetery – An area of ground set aside for burial of human remains. A cemetery is the final resting place which is typically marked by a flush marker or upright monument used to memorialize the passing of a loved one.

Chapel – A building or designated part of a building where funeral services are held.

Columbarium – A building, room or space often located within a mausoleum containing niches or recesses to hold cremated remains. A recent trend sees columbarium located in outside areas surrounded by gardens, fountains, ponds, etc.

Committal service – The portion of the funeral service that is conducted at the place of disposition of the body, generally in a cemetery.

Cremains – The human remains after cremation has taken place.

Cremation – The reduction of a dead human body to inorganic bone fragments by intense heat.

Crypt – A chamber in a mausoleum used to contain the casketed remains of a deceased person.

Disinterment (Exhumation) – When directed by an authority, disinterment is the act of removing a human body that had previously been buried in the ground.

Embalming – In modern funeral service, a process by which blood is removed from the body and replaced with preservative chemicals through arterial injection. These chemicals improve the appearance of the remains. Embalming is not designed to prevent decomposition, but rather to delay it long enough for public viewing prior to ultimate disposition.

Entombment – The placing of a dead human body remains in a crypt or mausoleum.

Funeral service – The rites held prior to the disposition of the human remains, with the body present.

Grave – An excavation in the earth for the purpose of burial. The place of interment.

Interment – The act of placing cremated remains in an urn or burying a casket below the surface of the ground.

Memorial – An item used at the gravesite to record the name of the person buried within and is usually made of granite, marble or bronze. These memorials could include flush markers, double markers, or upright markers.

Mausoleum – A building that provides crypts or vaults for caskets and niches for cremated remains placed in urns.

Niche – A space in a mausoleum or columbarium reserved for the placement of cremated remains.

Perpetual care – An arrangement made by the cemetery whereby funds are set aside, the income from which is used to maintain the cemetery indefinitely.

Pre-need planning (prearrange or preplan) – The act of planning in advance for one’s burial needs including one’s service, merchandize options, funeral home, and cemetery.

Section – An area within the cemetery that is usually encircled by a road that is subdivided into burial lots. Sections of a cemetery contain one or more grave spaces.


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