A Basic Guide to Cremation Urns
 Published: 4/24/2012 9:41:23 PM

Taking Enough Time to Decide

Wooden Cremation Urn
There are thousands of cremation urns available today.

Choosing the right cremation urn for a deceased loved one or friend can be a very difficult decision for many people. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the vast amount of choices, but with a little research and the proper guidance, you will know exactly where to begin searching for that beautiful memorial product that best reflects your departed loved one's own uniqueness and individuality.

Many people sometimes mistakenly believe they are under severe time constraints to purchase an urn after someone passes away. While it is true that some people prefer to hold a memorial service as soon as possible following the death of their loved one, the services do not necessarily need to be immediate. Unfortunately, the hasty decision to choose an urn can often result in survivors eventually feeling unhappy about the selection. In reality, it's okay to browse and shop around. After the actual cremation process has been completed, the crematorium will usually place the cremated remains inside a plastic bag, which can then be placed into a plastic temporary container until a more permanent selection is made. If you are planning to have a memorial service, you might want to consider telling your family and friends that you need some time to make arrangements and you will notify everyone about the service as soon as your preparations are complete.

Selecting the Right Size

Size is the first thing you should consider when beginning your search for a cremation urn. All cremation products designed to hold cremated remains have a certain capacity, or volume, which is usually measured in cubic inches. As a general rule, one cubic inch of cremated remains is roughly equal to one pound of body mass prior to cremation. Therefore, all the ashes of a person weighing 200 pounds prior to cremation would fit inside a cremation urn with a capacity volume of approximately 200 cubic inches or more.

We use the terms "full-size," "companion," "keepsake," and "token" to differentiate between the volume of cremated ashes a particular urn can hold. The chart below gives a visual example of cremation urn volume.

Cremation Urn Size Chart

Cremation Jewelry
Of all the memorial products available today, cremation jewelry holds the smallest amount of ashes. The maximum volume of a regular, average-sized cremation jewelry pendant is less than one cubic inch, which is actually only a very small, trace amount.

Token Sharing Cremation Urns
Token urns are the smallest types of cremation urns and generally hold between 1 and 10 cubic inches. Some people prefer to share the ashes among several family members or friends. Token urns hold a very small portion of cremated remains and help people to find comfort in their grief by keeping a small amount of their loved one's ashes close to the heart. Token urns are also especially helpful if the ashes are to be scattered. If a person isn't comfortable scattering all of the cremated remains, a small portion can be retained in a token urn.

Keepsake Sharing Cremation Urns
Keepsake urns are medium-size cremation urns that can hold between 11 and 175 cubic inches. Like token urns, keepsake urns can also be used to hold a portion of cremated ashes that have been divided up among family members or friends. However, because keepsake urns can be much larger than token urns (and some are only slightly smaller than full-size adult urns), keepsake urns can also hold all of the cremated remains of smaller person weighing less than 175 pounds prior to cremation.

Full-Size Adult Cremation Urns
A standard adult full-size cremation urn usually has a maximum volume of around 200 cubic inches. However, to be considered a full-size, the capacity range for these types of urns is between 176 and 250 cubic inches.

Companion Cremation Urn
A companion cremation urn is the largest type of cremation urn and these types of urns are designed to hold the cremated remains of two people. Companion urns can either have two separate compartments, or one single compartment where the ashes of two people can be mixed together. Some companion urns with a single compartment can also be considered to be oversize urns, as they would help to accommodate the ashes of larger individuals.

What Type of Memorial Do You Want?

What are you going to do with the cremation urn once it has been filled? Some cremation urns are designed to blend in naturally with regular home decor. Others are created specifically for ground burial. Here are just a few examples of available options:

Ground Burial
Cemetery Grave Urn Burial You may want to inter the cremation urn in an earth grave on your own private property or in a cemetery. Many local and national cemeteries require the use of an urn vault if the cremated remains are to be buried in an earth grave. An urn vault serves to prevent the ground from sinking in as the grave settles, as well as prevent potentially harmful materials from leaching out into the groundwater that may have been used in the urn's construction, since all urns will eventually decompose and break down over time. You should check your local cemetery regulations before arranging for an urn earth burial. Some urns, particularly cultured marble urns, provide enough strength and protection to satisfy cemetery regulations.

Columbarium Niche Inurnment
Cremation Urn Columbarium NicheA columbarium is a sepulchral vault with recesses in the walls to receive cremation urns. The term "columbarium" comes from the Latin word columba, meaning "dove" and originally referred to compartmentalized housing for doves and pigeons. A columbarium can be found as a separate structure in a cemetery or as part of a mausoleum. Some columbaria are built indoors and the urns are placed behind glass so family and friends can visit and view the urns at any time. Size is the most important consideration in choosing an urn for a columbarium niche. Be sure to find out the dimensions (height, width and depth) of the niche and choose an urn that will fit within that space.

Keeping the Urn at Home
Angel Statuary Cremation UrnDisplaying a cremation urn in a prominent place in your home has become a common and popular way to pay tribute to your loved one. Keeping the urn at home is a tangible way to preserve memories of the deceased, and many people find comfort in having the physical presence of their loved one's cremated ashes nearby. Just about any urn is suitable when keeping the ashes at home, but many statuary, wooden, and cloisonné cremation urns are specifically intended to be kept on display at home.

Sharing the Cremated Remains
Cremation Urn and Sharing Heart TokensIf the ashes are to be divided up among family members or friends, token or keepsake cremation urns should be chosen. You will have to figure out how many tokens or keepsakes you'll need based on the total amount of cremated remains, how many people want an urn, and the maximum total capacity of each urn. The combinations are almost unlimited, but one popular way to divide the ashes is to keep the majority of cremated remains inside a full-size adult cremation urn or medium-size keepsake urn, while a small amount can be placed inside cremation jewelry or token sharing urns.

Scattering the Cremated Remains
Scattering Ashes at SeaYou may want to scatter the ashes in a meaningful place. Scattering urns feature an opening designed to easily release the cremated ashes during a scattering ceremony. After scattering the ashes, family or friends may place keepsakes or mementos inside the scattering urn to memorialize their loved one. The scattering urn can then kept at home or buried to serve as a permanent memorial. Eco-friendly biodegradable cremation urns can also serve as scattering urns, because they are designed to break down as soon as they are exposed to the elements, eventually returning the ashes to the earth.

Memorials Products Celebrate Life

Memorial products serve an important purpose because they help us remember our lost loved ones. They also help to provide closure and comfort to those experiencing grief. Most importantly, they are intended to help celebrate the life of a person who has died. There are so many options available today, and a final decision should never be made without careful thought and consideration.

  Posted in Cremation Products and Options » Cremation Urns  |  Tagged: cremation urns, funeral urns, cremation jewelry
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