How to Choose an Urn

After you choose cremation, the next step is to choose an urn. This can be confusing because the choices can seem nearly infinite. It can be helpful if you are aware of the specific options available to you, and the terminology used in describing urns.  

  • The first thing to be aware of is that there are different types of urns for different purposes.  
  • There’s a display urn, which is an urn that’s meant to be seen. If, for instance, the urn will be in a glass-front niche in a columbarium, you’ll want to choose something decorative and beautiful. 
  • keepsake urn holds a small portion of the cremated remains. Perhaps you’re having the ashes interred or placed in a mausoleum, but you want to keep a small portion at your home. A keepsake urn would be appropriate. Note: A keepsake urn isn’t necessarily an urn–it can just as easily be a piece of cremation jewelry or artwork.  
  • companion urn holds the cremated remains of two people. This would be appropriate only for members of the same family.  
  • scattering urn is temporary for holding remains that will be scattered. This type of urn needs to be made of lightweight material and easy to open.  
  • Establishing how the urn will be used will help you determine the type of urn to purchase. Will it be in a location where it’s visible? Will it need to travel? Will it need to withstand the elements? What are the rules regarding urns at the cemetery in which the cremated remains are to be placed? If it’s going to be in a niche, what are the dimensions? All of these things should factor into your decision.  
  • Do you want the urn to be permanent or biodegradable? If you want an urn that is permanent, you’ll want to choose a material that’s made to last, like metal or stone. On the other hand, if you intend for the urn to biodegrade over time, choose one made of a natural material like Himalayan rock salt, handcrafted paper, or wood.  
  • If the urn will be seen, what style and kind of material do you prefer? You might choose a glass, ceramic, or marble urn, or one made of cloisonné or polished wood. Urns come in different designs, too, and can be personalized. Some hold a photo for display, others can be engraved, and some are decorated with a theme.  
  • What is your budget? There are so many urns from which to choose, you can be sure that your funeral director will be able to help you find a suitable urn that fits your budget. It’s helpful to establish your price range before beginning to shop.  

At Chapel of the Chimes Oakland, we’ve been helping people plan meaningful end of life ceremonies for years, carefully managing all the details that help to honor a life well-lived. Committed to helping families heal, we’ve built a solid reputation on sincerity, quality and trust. Call us at (510) 379-5200 to learn more about all that Chapel of the Chimes has to offer.

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