Understanding Options for Cremains in Cemeteries

by Alex Johnson June 28, 2019 3 min read

Since cremations have become more commonplace with people choosing to forgo traditional burial for their loved ones, there is a wide array of options now available for cremated remains. Cremation doesn’t necessitate keeping an urn filled with ashes in the home, that is simply one method of honoring the remains of a loved one.

An increasingly popular decision among families is to scatter the cremains over a significant body of water or land; i.e. mountain, valley, childhood park, etc. However, not everyone opts for scattering the ashes of their loved one. For some families, it is a way of setting a loved one free, letting them flow into the wind and releasing their earthly tether. Yet, for others, scattering the remains might seem too unofficial, leading them to seek a more distinct and final farewell.

In this case, a cemetery is a great option as a final resting place for the ashes of a loved one. Cemeteries offer the opportunity to have a stable location for visitation that doesn’t directly include the home, as well as flexibility for the actual placement of cremated remains.

 

Finding Peace with a Columbarium

 

Overhead view of a columbaria

 

Like mausoleums, columbaria are above ground structures that are built specifically for the placement of urns containing cremains. Similar to how a gravesite serves as a physical place of tribute, the advantage of a columbaria is that it provides a designated space to return and visit a loved one.

Each space is referred to as a “niche” and families have the option of purchasing multiple so as to have a “plot” of sorts for their family. The structural design varies according to cemetery, some contain traditional niches, which appear as sealed walls with the deceased names engraved, i.e. headstone, others are rather informal and are simply specialized lockers with designated keys.

 

Renewing the Traditional

 

A cemetery with bright green grass and headstones.

 

Seeing as traditional burials are phasing out and cremation is becoming much more commonplace, cemeteries have been opting to open their services to accommodate the changing dynamics. An increasing number of cemeteries have been doing so, by opening their land to the burial of cremation urns. They now offer specialized plots of land in which only urns are buried, in an intent to unite the tradition of burial with the rise of cremation.

The plots of land are much smaller, with the distance between spaces about half the amount given to caskets. This is done to accommodate the smaller size and mass of cremation urns. A feature that should be considered is the addition of a burial vault, this is a reinforced box, which provides protection to the urn from the elements and shifting of soil. Depending on the cemetery, a vault might be required for the burial of the urn. If not, families can choose biodegradable urns, which are eco-friendly and degrade naturally into the earth.

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It is really up to the family of the deceased to make the final decision as to what to do with the cremated remains. And keeping an urn at home might be too painful for some, as it would serve as a reminder of the deceased. Both of these alternatives; columbaria and burial, are provided at an increasing number of cemeteries around the world. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to say goodbye and it is vital that every family decide what is best for them.


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