Common Cremation Terms

Some terms that you may want to become more familiar with include: 


An unfinished wood box or other nonmetal receptacle or enclosure, without ornamentation or a fixed interior lining, which is designed for the encasement of human remains before and during cremation, and which is made of fiberboard, pressed wood, composition materials (with or without an outside covering) or like materials.


A casket or casket shell that is available for rental for use during a viewing or funeral ceremony. After the ceremony, the rental casket remains the property of the funeral home, and the decedent is placed in an alternative container for cremation.


A structure consisting of small vaults or niches for urns containing cremated remains.


Sometimes referred to as “ashes” or "cremains," these are the remains of the decedent after the completion of cremation and processing.


The reduction of human remains to bone fragments through intense heat, flame and evaporation.


A specially designed casket or container to be used when the final disposition of the remains is cremation. The casket or container may be used for visitation and/or the funeral ceremony, and it can be cremated with the decedent.


A garden area that provides a beautiful final resting place for cremated remains. It is a designated area that may vary from a simple urn garden to a more elaborate area of tranquility. Some cremation gardens feature elegant landscapes, graceful water designs and stunning granite monuments. The array of options available may include family estates, personalized granite pedestals, niche walls, unique benches, garden columbaria and water features.


A building or facility that houses the equipment necessary for cremation.


The placing of an urn containing cremated remains into a columbarium, niche, crypt, tomb or ground space.


Remembrance items such as cremation jewelry, miniature urns or other specially designed pieces that are used to hold a portion of the cremated remains.


A compartment or cubicle for the memorialization and permanent placement of the urn of cremated remains. Niches may be found indoors or outdoors or within a particular type of structure such as a columbarium or garden wall. A lasting material such as bronze or granite is often chosen for the niche face. Glass-front niches, allowing visitors to view and personalize the niche contents, are also available in some areas.


The authorized dispersal of cremated remains at sea, by air, on public or private property, but only with express permission of the landowner or jurisdiction. Scattering also includes commingling in a designated area within a dedicated cemetery or other authorized location, including the mixing of cremated remains with, or placing them on top of, the soil or ground cover. Keep in mind that scattering is a permanent option and cremated remains are irretrievable. Many families choose to keep a portion of the cremated remains in a piece of jewelry or in a keepsake urn.


A container made from a variety of materials including, but not limited to, bronze, ceramic, glass, porcelain, wood or other materials, into which cremated remains are placed. Many are designed in traditional vase-like shapes or square and rectangular cubes. “Keepsake urn” describes a smaller urn design that is used to house a portion of the cremated remains.