Funeral Home Glossary & Terms
funeral home glossary and terms

Navigating Funeral Arrangements: A Glossary of Essential Terms

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is an emotionally taxing experience, and the added pressure of making funeral arrangements can be overwhelming. Understanding the terminology used in funeral homes helps make informed decisions during this difficult time. To assist you through this process, we’ve compiled a comprehensive funeral home glossary of terms you may encounter when planning a funeral or memorial service.

We designed the funeral home glossary to empower you with knowledge and help clarify the services and options available. From “Direct Cremation” to “Outer Burial Container,” each term is explained in clear, straightforward language. We aim to provide you with a reliable resource you can refer to at any time, ensuring you have the information needed to navigate funeral home issues confidently.

Whether you are pre-planning a funeral or are making immediate arrangements, this glossary will serve as a guide, simplifying the complex and often unfamiliar terms used in the funeral industry. Remember, asking questions and seeking clarification from your funeral service provider whenever needed is essential. Their duty is to support you and provide the necessary information so you can choose the best options for your loved one and your family.

We hope this glossary brings you peace of mind during a challenging time, offering a sense of control and understanding when you need it most.



Alternative Container: A non-metal receptacle or enclosure, without ornamentation or a fixed interior lining, designed to encase human remains and made of cardboard, pressed wood, composition materials, or pouches of canvas or other materials.


Basic Services Fee: A fee that funeral providers are allowed to charge consumers to cover the funeral home’s overhead, including planning, securing necessary permits, storage of the body, coordination of arrangements, and other basic services.


Casket: A rigid container designed for the encasement of human remains, typically constructed of wood, metal, or similar material and lined with fabric.

Ceremonial Services: Services performed by the funeral home, such as viewings, visitations, funerals, and memorial services.

Cremation: The process of reducing human remains to bone fragments through the application of intense heat.


Direct Cremation: A cremation procedure without a formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony with the body present, which includes the transportation of the body and the basic services fee.


Embalming: A chemical process that sanitizes and preserves a body, which may be required for certain funeral arrangements, such as a viewing.


Forwarding and Receiving of Remains: The process of transferring remains between funeral homes, which includes transportation costs and the basic services fee.


Graveside Service: A service conducted at the grave where the body is to be buried.


Hearse: A vehicle for conveying the deceased from the funeral home to the place of the funeral service and to the burial grounds.


Immediate Burial: A burial of the body without embalming, viewing, or services, which includes the transportation of the body and the basic services fee.


Other Preparation of the Body: Services provided by the funeral home for preparing the deceased when embalming is not chosen.

Outer Burial Container: A container designed for placement in the grave around the casket, including vaults and grave liners, which may be required by the cemetery.


Third-Party Services and Merchandise: Services and merchandise provided by entities other than the funeral home are often required to be paid upfront.

Transfer of Remains: The act of moving the body from the place of death to the funeral home or another designated place.


Viewings and Visitation: A service provided by the funeral home where the body is present, and attendees can view the deceased and pay their respects.

If you face challenges with funeral home arrangements or suspect negligence, our team can help you. Traction Law Group is here to answer any questions about funeral home negligence issues. You can reach us at (833) 236-8253. Our compassionate staff is ready to provide you with the support and guidance you need during this trying time.

Additional Resources:

Funeral Terms and Contact Information

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