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The following list defines the most commonly used funerary terms. When explaining to children, particularly, remember to use simple, concrete language when talking about death.


(also cremated remains)

Ashes are what is left of the deceased after cremation. Cremated remains look like ashes from a fire.


Burial is the process of placing the deceased (inside a casket) into the ground and covering the casket with dirt.


(also a coffin)

A casket is a special box made for burying the deceased.


A cemetery is a peaceful, often park-like, place where many deceased people are buried. There are several different types of cemeteries. The most common of which is a monument cemetery with marble and granite headstones or gravestones to remember and identify the location of those buried there.


Cremation is the process in which the deceased becomes ashes. The remains of the deceased transition to ashes through heat.


A funeral is an event where loved ones gather to say goodbye and remember a person who has passed. Usually, kind words of remembrance or spiritual texts are presented to those gathered. Often times people cry at funerals. Sometimes a memory will make loved ones smile thinking of their loved ones. Funerals are emotional.

Funeral home

A funeral home is a place where the deceased are kept and prepared for burial. This is most often where the funeral takes place.


A grave is the final resting place for the deceased in a cemetery. A grave is most-often a hole in the ground where the casket is placed and then covered with dirt and an identifying headstone or plaque.


A hearse is a special car designed to transport the deceased in the casket to the grave at the cemetery. A hearse is a long, usually elegant, and stately looking car. Most often, the hearse leads the way for mourners to follow from the funeral to the burial. The family follows the hearse in the first car.


An obituary is a short article about the deceased, usually including a photograph and some special biographical information to be part of the funeral and remembrance.


A pallbearer is a person who helps carry the casket at the funeral. Usually, the pallbearers are people who had close relationships with the deceased like family members or close friends.


A viewing is when the deceased is presented in an open casket for mourners to visit and say a final farewell at the funeral home. Some mourners prefer to say goodbye one last time this way.


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