Funeral Terms

Funeral Terms  

Whether you or your loved one have opted for cremation or burial, a memorial, funeral and/or celebration of life, hosting a service helps:

  • Honour and commemorate the life of the deceased
  • Invite loved ones to pay their respects and share their final good-byes
  • Gather friends and family together so they can offer support to the grieving family

Below are some common terms and traditions associated with funerals, memorials and celebrations of life.

Visitation, Wake or Viewing

Held the night before or immediately prior to the funeral service, the visitation – also called a wake or a viewing – provides a way for friends and acquaintances to pay respects and offer condolences. If a casket is present, you can choose to have an open or closed casket. Another option is to have an open casket for family-viewing only.

Memorial or Tribute Service

At a memorial or tribute service, a casket or urn is usually not present. Otherwise similar to a funeral or visitation, a memorial service gives family and friends a time to come together in your memory and celebrate your life.

Graveside Service

A graveside service may be held at the grave site just prior to burial of a casket or urn, and usually consists of final remarks, prayers or memories. The service may occur after or in place of a funeral service.


You can personalize your arrangement in almost any way imaginable. For example, consider the following questions that can help you get clear (and creative) about your life celebration:

  • Where should the funeral be held? At your place of worship? At the funeral home? At the country club? Perhaps you would like an at-home funeral?
  • Who should officiate the service?
  • Will you include traditions from your faith or culture?
  • Do you want a eulogy? Who should deliver it? How many people would you like to speak?
  • Do you prefer an open or closed casket?
  • What music should be played?
  • What readings would you like to have read?
  • Are there any special photographs, memorabilia or videos for display?
  • Should the décor reflect a particular hobby or interest of yours such as fishing, gardening or music?
  • Is there a particular emblem or engraving you want on your headstone or marker?
  • Should there be refreshments served or a more elaborate party held after the service?

Cemetery Property

A cemetery property, sometimes called “interment rights,” is another consideration when you are making final arrangements. When you purchase the right of interment in a cemetery, you have not purchased the land itself. You have purchased the right to be interred (sometimes referred to as buried, entombed, enniched or placed) within that particular piece of cemetery property.


Most people are familiar with the concept of burial but may not be aware of the variety of options available. Many cemeteries offer one or more of the following:

  • Ground Burial: burial of the casket below ground. A “vault” or “outer burial container” is required at many cemeteries
  • Mausoleum, or Community Mausoleum: a large building that provides above-ground entombments
  • Private Family Mausoleum: a small structure that provides above-ground entombment for up to 12 family members
  • Companion Crypt: permits two interments or entombments side-by-side
  • Private Family Estate: a small section of a cemetery usually bordered by gates, shrubbery or other dividers that allows for ground burial of several members of the same family


Permanent placement/final disposition of cremated remains (ashes) is an important part of final arrangements. Just consider:

  • A permanent site gives loved ones a physical place for visitation and reflection
  • The ceremony accompanying the placement of an urn in a cremation niche or a cremation garden in a cemetery gathers family and friends together
  • When ashes of a loved one are kept with relatives, cremated remains can be misplaced or lost as family members move and grow older
  • A permanent placement provides future generations with a location to visit when researching history and heritage

Some common methods of final disposition of cremated remains are:

  • Cremation Niche: an above-ground space to accommodate a cremation urn
  • Columbarium: Often located within a mausoleum or chapel and constructed of numerous niches designed to hold urns
  • Cremation Garden: a dedicated section of a cemetery designed for the burial, scattering or other permanent placement of ashes
  • Memorial Benches: benches that memorialize a loved one’s scattering of ashes, commemorate the burying of ashes in a cremation garden or contain the ashes of a loved one within the actual bench


Some cemeteries allow upright headstones called “monuments” to be used with ground burials. Headstones that are flat against the ground are called “markers.” In some cemeteries or sections of cemeteries only flat markers are used to preserve the natural appearance of the landscape.

Ridley Funeral Home
Phone: (416) 259-3705
3080 Lake Shore Blvd W., Etobicoke, ON M8V 1K3

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