What is interment?

Flowers on top of a grave.

Ever heard of interment? You may have heard the word if you’ve seen a funeral notice or arranged a funeral before. For more info, here’s what an interment is and how it works as part of a funeral service.

What does interment mean?

An interment is the burial or entombment of a person’s body. The interment itself can be a short ceremony that’s part of a funeral service including prayers or music. But it can just refer to the burial or entombment.

What does interment of ashes mean?

Interment is also used to describe the final resting place of a person’s ashes. This could be in an urn. Or the ashes could be buried in a cemetery or on private land. Each is known as an interment of ashes. Though some people may choose to scatter a loved one’s ashes instead.

What’s the difference between burial and interment?

Is interment the same as burial? Not exactly. A burial is a type of interment.

An interment can be:

  • A burial in a grave
  • Entombment in an above-ground burial site like a mausoleum
  • When cremated remains are put in their final resting place

What’s the difference between committal and interment?

A committal is when a person’s body is placed in a grave. It’s another way of referring to a burial so it can be seen as a type of interment. A committal is described in this way because it’s when the body is committed to the earth. Some people may call it a committal service. This can be religious or non-religious. Sometimes friends or family of the person who died will say a prayer or a few words at this point if they wish.

What happens at an interment?

An interment can refer to several different ways to put a person’s body in its final resting place. Below we’ll take you through the different interment options and what happens at each one. This may help you decide which option is right for the funeral you’re planning.

Different interment options 

Traditional burial 

A traditional burial is when a person’s body is placed in a coffin or casket and lowered into a grave. A headstone can be added to the grave as a memorial to the person who’s passed away. Some people may also choose to have a graveside funeral service or committal service.

Learn more about this type of interment with our guide to what happens at a burial.

Natural burial

This is when someone is buried in a green space like a woodland or meadow. Only biodegradable coffins are used. Or no coffin at all. And no chemicals are used. This is so that the interment is as eco-friendly as possible. And the body breaks down in the most natural way possible.

Learn more with our guide to natural burials.

Interment of ashes in an urn

Some people choose to keep a loved one who’s passed away close. So they choose to keep their cremated remains in a memorial urn at home.

See which type of urn is suitable for the funeral you’re planning with our guide to memorial urns.

Interment of ashes in a columbarium

A person’s ashes can also be stored in an urn and placed in a columbarium niche. This gives you a physical place to visit your loved one and leave them flowers.

Learn more about this type of interment with our guide: What is a columbarium?

Alternatives to interment of ashes

If the interment of a loved one’s ashes doesn’t feel right you might like to scatter them somewhere important instead. This could be on your own land or it could be somewhere that the person often visited like a park or woodland. There are no laws against scattering ashes in the UK but keep in mind that if you’d like to do this on private land or in a public space you may need to get permission first.

For more info read our guide to scattering ashes.

Funeral Choice is a free online resource that helps you find a funeral director that’s suitable for you. We also provide impartial funeral planning advice.


Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash