Manitoba Funeral Service Association ~"We Serve Because We Care"


"Ask The Expert"

Glossary of Terms

Ashes or Cremated Remains – the product of reducing the human body through cremation

Casket/Coffin - A container or chest for burying human remains.

Cemetery Services - Opening and closing graves, crypts, or niches; setting vaults; setting markers; and long-term maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities.

Columbarium - A structure with compartments or niches (small spaces) for placement of ashes or cremated remains in urns or other approved containers. It may be outdoors or part of a mausoleum.

Cremation - Exposing human remains and the container holding them to extreme heat and flame and processing the resulting bone fragments to a uniform size and consistency.

Crypt - A space or compartment in a mausoleum or other building to hold cremated or whole human remains.

Entombment - Burial in a mausoleum.

Funeral Ceremony - A service commemorating the deceased with the body present.

Funeral Services - Services provided by a funeral director and staff, which may include consulting with the family on funeral planning; transportation, shelter, refrigeration, and embalming of remains; preparing and filing notices; obtaining authorizations and permits; and coordinating with the cemetery, crematory, or other third parties.

Grave - A space in the ground in a cemetery for the burial of human or cremated remains.

Graveside Service - A service to commemorate the deceased held at the cemetery prior to burial.

Interment - Burial in the ground, inurnment, or entombment. Inurnment - The placing of cremated remains in an urn.

Mausoleum - A building in which human remains are buried (entombed) in compartments or crypts.

Memorial Service - A ceremony commemorating the deceased without the body present.

Niche - A space or compartment in a columbarium, mausoleum, or niche wall to hold an urn.

Perpetual Care Fund - Moneys collected from cemetery property purchasers and placed in trust for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. The Province monitors the fund and establishes the minimum amount that must be collected; however, the cemetery is permitted to collect more than the minimum to build the fund. Only the interest earned by such funds may be used for the care, maintenance, and embellishment of the cemetery.

Urn - A container to hold cremated remains. It can be placed in a columbarium or mausoleum, or it can be buried in the ground.

Vault/Outer Burial Container - A cover that completely encloses a casket in a grave. Can be made of wood, concrete, reinforced concrete, steel, or bronze.

What do Funeral Directors do?

Funeral Directors are listeners, advisors, supporters, caregivers, organizers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the decedent back to the funeral home or care centre, meet with the family of the deceased and complete all the necessary paperwork and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body by working with clergy, celebrants, musicians, florists, reception staff, service/charity organizations and make arrangements with cemeteries, and air travel when required.

They provide the specialized professional work of embalming, dressing, cosmetizing, and care and handling of the deceased. Funeral Directors are trained to be aware of many different beliefs and traditions and work to respect the choices of many different backgrounds and cultures. Funeral Directors are trained to answer questions about grief, and can recognize when a person is having difficulty coping and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral Directors can also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.

What purpose does a funeral serve?

The funeral and the ceremony that accompanies it are indeed very important. For those who are left behind, a funeral provides a place for family and friends to gather for support and to reminisce; an opportunity to celebrate the life and accomplishments of a loved one; a chance to say goodbye; and the focal point from which the healing process can begin. The funeral identifies that a person's life has been lived, not that a death has occurred. It is also important to notify the community that this person has died. There are people beyond the immediate family who have the right to grieve a death.

I've decided on cremation. Can I still have a funeral or a viewing?

Yes, quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual cremation. Your Funeral Home can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service.

Is viewing necessary or a requirement?

Although viewing is not a requirement in Manitoba it can serve a very important part in the grieving process.  Viewing provides the opportunity for family and friends to say a final goodbye to the individual who has passed away in the form that they are familiar with.  

Many Funeral Homes request that viewing takes place prior to cremation to provide positive identification of the decedent and provide peace of mind to families so that they can feel confident the cremated remains are actually those of their loved one.  It also provides an opportunity to see the cremation container purchased has been provided.

I have been told that bathing the body prior to cremation is an Environmental Law in Manitoba. Is that true?

That is not true. Bathing the body is part of the process that is referred to as minimal or basic preparation. Other aspects of this process would include setting features, shaving, hairstyling, dressing, applying cosmetics in some cases and placing the body in the casket or cremation container. The actual embalming is not performed at this stage unless requested by the authorized representative.

This care of the deceased prepares the body for a more meaningful and pleasant final goodbye and is taken care of by the funeral home and not the health care facility.

Are there benefits to having a public viewing?

Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Having a public viewing often allows close friends and co-workers an opportunity to say their goodbye if they have not been invited to a private service.

Viewing is encouraged for all members of the family including children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary. Many funeral homes have special grief material to help adults explain what is happening. Be sure to ask your Funeral Director for more information.

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

No, cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service.

What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?

Funeral Directors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When you need their service, regardless of the time of day or season of the year, they will make all the necessary arrangements to bring your loved one into their care.

Will someone come right away?

If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, that is acceptable. They will come when the time is right.

If a loved one dies out of province, can the local Funeral Home still help?

Yes, they can assist you with making all the arrangements for an out-of-province death and assist in bringing your loved one home. Your Funeral Director can also assist in arranging to transfer the decedent to another province or to/from another country. Cost of shipping the remains will be in addition to the regular funeral expenses.

Has this cost increased significantly?

Funeral costs have increased no faster than the consumer price index for other consumer items. When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized. A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details.

How To Write An Obituary

More than merely a ‘‘good-bye’’ to the deceased, this is a farewell which can, in chronological order, detail the life of the deceased. An obituary also serves as notification that an individual has passed away and details of the services that are to take place.   Click Here for more information.