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Choosing an urn

How to choose a cremation urn

Choosing a cremation urn is a deeply personal decision that comes at a sensitive time. It involves considering both the practical aspects and the emotional significance of honoring a loved one’s memory. Here, we guide you through the process of selecting an urn that both serves as a final resting place and reflects the unique life of the person it commemorates.

Understanding Your Options

Cremation urns come in various materials, sizes, and designs, each offering a different aesthetic and purpose. Before selecting an urn, it’s important to think about where it will ultimately be placed. Will it be displayed in a home, placed in a columbarium, or buried? This decision can significantly influence the type of urn you choose.

Material Matters

  • Metal Urns: Durable and often more traditional, metal urns are commonly made from bronze, brass, stainless steel, or aluminum. They are ideal for display but can also be buried, although they may require a vault for ground burial.
  • Wooden Urns: Wooden urns offer a warm, natural look and are often crafted from hardwoods like mahogany, walnut, or cherry. These urns are perfect for display in homes or for burial in a biodegradable manner.
  • Ceramic and Glass Urns: Known for their artistic designs and beautiful finishes, ceramic and glass urns are more fragile. They are best suited for safe display areas in a home or columbarium.
  • Stone Urns: Typically made from marble or granite, stone urns are robust and can be used for both display and burial. Their substantial weight and natural beauty make them a popular choice.
  • Biodegradable Urns: For those interested in environmental sustainability, biodegradable urns are designed to decompose naturally. They are ideal for water burials or earth burials in natural settings.

Size and Capacity

Choosing the right size urn is crucial. The general rule of thumb is that one pound of body weight will yield approximately one cubic inch of ash. Thus, a 200-pound individual would require an urn with a capacity of at least 200 cubic inches. However, it’s advisable to confirm with your crematorium the amount of ashes that will be returned, as this can vary.


Personalizing an urn can add a meaningful touch, making the urn a unique tribute to the deceased. Engraving names, dates, or personal messages, or choosing an urn that reflects the loved one’s style, hobbies, or passions are all ways to customize an urn. For instance, an avid gardener might be best remembered with an urn embossed with floral patterns, while a lifelong sailor might be honored with an urn in the shape of an anchor.

Considerations Before Making Your Choice

  • Budget: Urns can vary widely in price, from affordable options to high-end custom designs. Determine your budget beforehand and find a balance between a meaningful tribute and what is financially manageable.
  • Placement: As mentioned earlier, the intended placement of the urn can influence its material and design. For urns that will be displayed outdoors or in public places, durability is key.
  • Regulations: If you plan to place the urn in a columbarium, check if there are size or material restrictions. Similarly, some cemeteries might have guidelines for urns used in burials.
  • Family Wishes: It’s important to consider the wishes of family members and possibly the deceased if they expressed any preferences. This can help guide the decision-making process and ensure that the urn selected respects the memories and desires of all involved.

The Emotional Aspect of Choosing an Urn

Selecting an urn is more than a practical decision—it’s an emotional one. It symbolizes the final resting place of a loved one and serves as a tangible memory. Allow yourself time to reflect on what would best honor the memory of the deceased, and don’t rush the decision. Consulting with family members and friends can provide comfort and support during this process, making it a shared journey in remembrance.

Choosing the right cremation urn for a loved one is a thoughtful process that reflects your love and respect for the deceased. By considering the practical aspects—such as material, size, and personalization—along with the emotional significance of the urn, you can select a memorial that truly honors their memory.

Whether it stands as a focal point in your home, rests within a tranquil columbarium, or becomes one with nature, the right urn can provide a profound sense of closure and peace, serving as a lasting tribute to a cherished life.


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