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Funeral Terminology

Casket Bearers - Individuals whose duty is to carry the casket when necessary during the funeral service.

Columbarium - A vault with niches to hold cremated remains. Glass front or solid plate.

Committal Service - Service committing a body or urn to the grave; specifically used at Willamette National Cemetery.

Cremation - Cremation is an alternative to burial as a mode of disposition. With cremation, every option, including a viewing, funeral and graveside are still possible, and encouraged. The family has several options as to the disposition of the cremated remains. The cremains may be buried in cemetery, scattered or kept in an urn or urns.

Cremains - Cremated remains.

Direct or Immediate Burial - When the deceased is buried with no viewing or service of any kind. Also known as Delivery Only where the casketed human remains or cremated remains are delivered to the cemetery without any family members present.

Direct Cremation - The body is removed from the place of death and is placedin refrigeration. Upon completion of the necessary paperwork, the body is cremated. There is no service or viewing. The cremated remains are returned to the family.

Disposition of Human Remains - Burial, cremation or anatomical donation.

Entombment - Placement of the body in a casket above ground in a mausoleum.

Eulogy or Life Sketch - A well-crafted speech given at a funeral or memorial service intended to commemorate a loved one who has died. It is usually presented by someone who was close to the deceased and knows them well. It is a condensed life history and may contain details about family, friends, work/career, interests, and achievements lasting about 15 minutes.

Funeral Director - A licensed professional who prepares for the burial or other disposition of the deceased, superises such burial or disposition, maintains a funeral establishment to process death certificates and other necessary paperwork and counsels with the survivors.

Graveside Service - An abbreviated funeral service held at the graveside in the cemetery. Cemeteries don’t allow the casket to be opened at the cemetery, so there is no viewing there. Families can arrange a private family viewing of the body beforehand at the funeral home if they wish.

Grave Liner - A concrete box, also known as an outer burial container, where the casket or urn is placed. Differs from a burial vault in that it is not lined or sealed. Grave liners are not required by law, but most cemeteries require them to maintain their park-like setting.

Green or Natural Burial - A body placed into a grave without being embalmed or housed in a casket and grave liner. Not all cemeteries can accommodate green burials since they do require grave liners.

Honorary Casket Bearers - Friends or members of a religious, social or fraternal organization who act as an escort or honor guard for the deceased. Honorary casket bearers do not carry the casket nor do they need to attend the service.

Indigent - A deceased who has no family members or anyone willing to be financially responsible for the disposition of human remains. The funeral director pursues other avenues such as OHSU body donation. If this is not an option, then the body is kept in refrigeration for 10 days after which time the county medical director declares the deceased indigent and cremation is authorized. The funeral home is minimally compensated by the state.

Interment/Inurnment - The act or ritual of interring or burying; the ritual placing of human remains in a grave or placement of an urn. Often misspelled as internment.

Mausoleum - An extrernal free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons.

Niche - A recess in a wall to hold an urn.

Obituary - Documents the deceased person’s life, and informs the public of death and gives information about planned funeral or memorial arrangements. Many large newspapers charge for these.

Pallbearers - A Catholic term for individuals whose duty is to carry the casket when necessary during the funeral service. Often used interchangeably with casket bearers. The pall is a large religious cloth placed over the casket during the service.

Vault (Burial) - A lined and sealed outer receptacle that houses the casket. Differs from a graveliner which is not lined or sealed. Vaults are more expensive than the grave box/liner.

Viewing/Visitation - An allotted time before the funeral service where the deceased can be seen for the last time and a chance to say goodbye. Most people who say they don’t want a viewing usually mean they don’t want a public viewing, but are comfortable with immediate family members having closure.

Wake - A wake is a social gathering associated with death, usually held before a funeral. Traditionally, a wake takes place in the house of the deceased with the body present. 

Threadgill’s Memorial Services, LLC
Phone: 503-526-3952
4815 SW Jamieson Road, Beaverton, OR


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