Understanding Funeral Vocabulary
When a loved one dies or when planning your funeral pre-arrangements, you will quickly be immersed in the language of the funeral world. However, for most people, the vocabulary used can sometimes seem complex. Crématorium Montréal has therefore prepared a small list of the main terms used in the funeral industry, so that you will be better equipped when you speak to our advisors.
If you choose cremation, our advisors will use certain words related to this process. One of the main mistakes made by the general public is in the use of the terms cremation and incineration. In fact, these two terms are not used in the same context. Incineration is the destruction of waste by fire using an incinerator, while cremation is the burning of a body to reduce it to ashes.
Here are some other terms that you should know what they mean:
- Crematorium: This is the building where the cremation of a deceased person’s body takes place, such as Crématorium Montréal.
- Columbarium: This is the place where cremation urns are kept. The columbarium is composed of a number of compartments, called niches, located on the same wall or part of a wall. The columbarium may be located at the cemetery or in a funeral home. It can be indoors or outside.
- Niche: This is the recess in a wall where the urn is placed in a columbarium.
- Sepulchre: This is the term used when referring to the place where human remains are laid to rest. The sepulchre may be the location in a cemetery, the niche in a columbarium or the crypt in a mausoleum. If the ashes of a deceased person are kept in a private home, this place could also be considered a sepulchre.
In the case of a burial in a cemetery, various terms may be used. Here is a short list:
- Epitaph: This is the inscription that is placed on a sepulchre. It can be engraved directly on the tomb or on a plaque that will be attached to a niche.
- Mausoleum: This is a large size funerary monument built in a cemetery. A mausoleum includes a crypt, in which the body or ashes of the deceased are placed.
- Crypt: This is the place where the body (or the ashes) of the deceased is (are) laid to rest.
- Vault: This is a container to protect the coffin before the burial. The vault is used to protect the casket or urn, and also to prevent it from sinking into the ground.
- Receiving vault: This is the storage area for caskets during the months when burials can’t take place due to frozen ground, i.e. from November 1 to April 30.
Dying also involves a lot of bureaucracy. Here is a list of the main terms you may hear:
- Holograph will: This will is handwritten and must bear the signature of the person who wrote it. However, it must be probated after death, at the expense of the estate.
- Will made in the presence of witnesses: This will may be handwritten or computer-printed and must bear your signature. To be valid, it must be signed by two witnesses. Again, this will, after your death, will need to be probated, at a cost to be incurred by the estate.
- Notarized will: Even though this option is the most costly, it is the most secure type of will. In fact, you can benefit from the expertise of a notary to write this will and it will be entered in the register of testamentary dispositions, which is maintained by the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
- Mandate in case of incapacity: Also known as a protection mandate or mandate in anticipation of incapacity, this document designates the individual(s) who will make decisions in the event that you become incapable of managing your own assets.
- Liquidator: Formerly known as an executor, the liquidator is the person who will handle the estate of the deceased.
As you may have noticed, many words are used in the funeral world and they can be difficult to understand. However, the Crématorium Montréal team is here to give you the explanations you need to understand our world and guide you in your choices. At all times, don’t hesitate to ask your questions, as we are aware that people are often not familiar with the funeral world.