Urns: Choosing a Cremation Urn For Your Loved One
Confused as you choose a cremation urn for your loved one? Before making an urn selection, think about the size you’ll need, as well as your budget and preferred urn style.
Selecting a cremation urn for a deceased loved one is difficult – and the choice is not made any easier by the overwhelming number of choices. We hope to help you understand your options so that you can pick the best cremation urn for your specific needs.
Before we delve into cremation urn options, keep in mind that if a funeral planner decides not to purchase an urn prior to the cremation of his or her loved one, the funeral home or cremation society will provide the deceased’s family with their loved one’s remains in a plastic or cardboard box.
Consider the size of the cremation urn
Funeral planners who would like to purchase an urn should first consider size: one cubic inch of urn space is needed for each one pound of weight of the deceased.
- Cremation jewelry holds the smallest amount of ashes – an average-sized pendant holds less than one cubic inch (i.e. one pound of body weight).
- Token urns, the smallest urns available, usually hold between one and ten cubic inches. These urns are generally used to share ashes among family members and friends or to hold a portion of ashes that are not scattered.
- Keepsake urns usually hold between 11 and 175 cubic inches of ashes. These urns may be used in a similar way as token urns or may hold a smaller individual weighing less than 175 pounds.
- Full-size urns hold between 176 and 250 cubic inches and are designed to hold the remains of most deceased adults.
- Companion urns, designed to hold the cremated remains of two individuals, may have two separate compartments or a single compartment large enough to hold the remains of both individuals. Some people use companion urns (with a single compartment) to hold the remains of individuals weighing more than 250 pounds.
Consider what will be done with the remains
Individuals may choose to:
- Bury the ashes – If burying the ashes within an urn, funeral planners should consult the cemetery regarding their requirements around the use of an urn vault or a biodegradable urn. Many cemeteries require vaults in order to prevent the ground from sinking and to keep potentially harmful materials used in the construction of the urn from leaching into the groundwater.
- Scatter the ashes – If scattering the cremated ashes of a loved one, keep in mind the location at which the scattering will take place. For instance, during a scattering ceremony over a body of water or from an aircraft, pay attention to the wind so as not to have the ashes blown back in the scatterers face. Alternatively, consider using a biodegradable bag or urn that will break down when exposed to the elements.
- Keep the urn at home – If keeping and displaying a cremation urn at home, choose a place that is out of reach of children and pets.
- Keep the urn in a mausoleum or columbarium – Funeral planners that choose this option should be sure to inquire about the dimensions of the niche in order to ensure proper fit.
- Share the cremated remains – If the ashes will be divided among family members and friends, consider the number and types of urns needed (based on the number of individuals and their preferences).
Consider the price and style of the urn
Funeral planners should have an idea of the amount of money they would like to spend, as prices for urns can range significantly (some may be priced in the thousands of dollars range). Individuals should also consider the type of urn they would like – a wooden box, a hobby-related style urn, a metal urn … etc. A quick Internet search or perusal through an urn catalog gives funeral planners an idea of the vast number of options available to them.
In the comments section below, please let me know if you have any questions regarding cremation urn options.
For more information on what to do when a loved one dies, cremation costs, how to save money on a funeral or memorial service, or tips on planning a funeral, visit eFuneral’s online resource center.
Leah Yomtovian Roush is the Senior Manager of Strategic Development for Cleveland, Ohio-based eFuneral, a comprehensive and free online resource that enables those thinking about end-of-life to research, plan, and arrange a wide variety of funeral-related services. Leah is the editor of eFuneral's Online Resource Center, and she manages the company's marketing efforts and develops strategies for company growth. Leah also serves on the Boards of multiple non-profit organizations, helping them expand their reaches and increase their impacts.