Two common terms sometimes used interchangeably are actually different with respects to The Buffalo News:

Obituary: A news story of a person's death, often with an account of their life and work, written by a member of the editorial staff of The Buffalo News. As with any news stories, obituaries are free, but appear at the discretion of the newspaper.

Death Notice: An announcement of a death, arranged and submitted by a funeral home. The paragraph appears in the classified section of a newspaper and/or online, publicizing the death of a person and giving those details of the funeral service the survivors wish to have published.


Less familiar terms

These are some words you may see in regards to a death that may be less familiar:

Apportionment: When cremated remains are divided into separate amounts, either to keep some and spread the rest, or to distribute between members of the family.

Aron (A-rone): The burial casket. Jewish burial requires a wooden casket in keeping with the Biblical teaching “For dust art thou and to the dust thou shalt return.”

Burial Certificate or Permit: A legal paper issued by the local government authorizing burial. The permit may authorize earth burial or cremation or removal to a distant point.

Catafalque: The stand that the casket rests on during a funeral service.

Cenotaph: A monument (sometimes an empty tomb) that is erected in memory of a person buried elsewhere, such as military cenotaphs.

Certificate of Death: A legalized copy of the original certificate, issued upon request by the local government for the purpose of substantiating various claims by the family of the deceased such as insurance and other death benefits.

Columbarium: A granite wall for placing an urn containing cremated remains.

Committal Service: The final portion of the funeral service at which time the deceased is interred or entombed.

Cortege: The funeral procession.

Cremains: Another term for “ashes.”

Cremation Permit: A certificate issued by local government authorizing cremation of the deceased.

Eulogy: A laudatory speech or written tribute, especially praising someone who has died.

Elegy: A funeral poem or song.

Epitaph: A commemorative inscription on a tombstone.  Also: a brief poem or statement in praise of a deceased person.

Final Rites: The funeral service.

Green Burial: A burial conducted without any unnatural materials, i.e., no embalming and a burial in a wooden casket with no metal, or a shroud and buried directly into the earth without a grave liner.

Inurnment: The placing of cremains (i.e. “ashes”) into an urn.

Kaddish (Ka-dish): The traditional prayer in praise of God, recited after burial.

Keriah (Kree-ah): The practice of rending or cutting a garment, or symbolically wearing a cut black ribbon over the heart, to indicate that one is in mourning. Those observing keriah are generally adult children, father/mother, brother/sister, or spouse of the deceased.

Kvurah B'kara (Kvoo-rah B’kar-kah): Burial in the ground. Biblical mandate requires burial in the ground, filling the grave completely until a mound is formed. Participation in filling the grave is a religious privilege and duty and an expression of honor for the deceased. Above ground burial is an option you may discuss with the.

Mass Card: A card indicating that a Mass for the deceased has been arranged. (Catholic)

Obsequy (plural obsequies): A funeral rite or ceremony. Usually used in the plural.

Opening & Closing Fees: The fees a cemetery charge for digging the grave and filling it, or for opening and closing an existing plot to inter a further occupant, or cremated remains.

Register: A book made available by the funeral director for recording the names of people visiting the funeral home to pay their respects to the deceased. Also has space for entering other data such as name, dates of birth and death of the deceased, name of the officiating clergyman, place of interment, time and date of service, list of floral tributes, etc.

Scattering Garden: A dedicated section of a cemetery wherein families can scatter the ashes of their loved ones. Often plaques are available to memorialize the loved ones whose remains have been scattered there.

Sheloshim: (sh’losh-sheem): The thirty days following burial (including shiva).

Shiva (Shee-vah): The traditional seven-day mourning period immediately following burial, observed by the bereaved. Consult a rabbi for details on the customs and observances of shiva.

Shmira (Shmee-rah): The watching of remains. To show respect to the departed, the deceased is never left alone until after burial. The Schomer (Watcher) traditionally recites psalms.

Tachrichim (Takh-ree-kheem): The burial shroud. A full set of traditional white clothing, preferably made of linen, includes: hat, shirt, pants, jacket, belt and wrapping sheet. This garment symbolizes equality and purity.

Taharah (Ta-ha-rah): The traditional washing and dressing of the deceased with dignity. Performed by trained members of the Chevra Kadisha (Sacred Society). In accordance with Jewish traditional law, men prepare men, while women prepare women. Embalming, cosmetizing or any other artificial preparation of the remains is not permitted by Jewish law.

Vigil: A Catholic service held on the eve of a funeral service.