Using Multiple Urns:
How Sharing the Ashes Can Support a Grieving Family
by Taylor Evans January 28, 2022 5 min read
"There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This quote speaks powerfully to the notion that isolated grief is a form of grief that one suffers in silence. This is different than if they’re alone and enduring just with themselves. Grief is a struggle for anyone – no one is spared the pain and sorrow that comes with experiencing loss. However, to endure grief alone without others to speak to or connect with, the burden of loss can be painfully isolating and lonely.
When we lose a family member, we have the shared grief that comes with having so many people who loved the recently departed. It can be comforting to know that we aren’t alone in our sadness and that the love and memories are shared throughout the family.
This sense of familial loss is why it can be equally powerful to share the ashes of a loved one among multiple households within a family. If you’re considering this, here are some strong considerations for how this can be a beneficial act for everyone involved.
How Can Sharing the Ashes of the Dearly Departed Allow Families to Feel Equally Respected in Their Grieving?
It may be uncomfortable, but sometimes family members may have multiple family members who are in the position to possess the ashes of a loved one. For example, if a mother and father pass away and there are multiple descendants in the family, there’s no rule that says the ashes must go to the oldest.
Getting multiple cremation urns for ashes means that the ashes can be placed in the homes of each of the family members, allowing them to share in the memory of their beloveds.
In some families, it may not make sense to give the ashes to just one person, and sharing those cremated ashes can allow each individual to feel seen and respected in their loss. There’s no perceived 'hierarchy' of relationship that dictates the ashes should remain only with one individual and that’s the individual who was closest to them.
Sharing the Ashes May Prevent Discord and Disagreement Among the Members of the Family
Dealing with grief is often already hard enough as it is, so dealing with grief while simultaneously dealing with disagreement among family members compounds the struggle even more.
There are decisions to be made about so many different aspects – from deciding flower arrangements, funeral planning, or where to have the ceremony. Having the option to share the ashes in multiple urns for human ashes can make it so there is one less thing to potentially cause disharmony within the family. With tensions and emotions already potentially on edge, knowing that multiple family members can find comfort with keepsake cremation urns, medium urns, or cremation jewelry helps bring peace.
Shared Ashes Allow a Loved One to
Remain in Multiple Places
When some families scatter the ashes of a loved one in the mountains or on the beach, they do so knowing that their loved one had a special place in their heart for that location. When families choose to keep the ashes in a cremation urn, they can still allow those remains to be spread out across the homes of the nearest and dearest family members.
If a grandfather passes away, and his ashes are shared across his three children’s homes, then he is given a symbolic way to remain close to his children and grandchildren. Grandparents often love nothing more than spending time around their grandchildren, so if each home has a small portion of ashes kept in a keepsake urn sitting on the mantle or on a bookshelf, it’s a powerful reminder that they remain in our lives.
Sharing the Ashes, Sharing the Grief
Sharing the ashes of a loved one can be done for a range of reasons, each of which is personal to a family, but the ashes can also be shared in a variety of ways. If you and your family are looking to share the ashes of someone who has recently passed, here are some options to consider:
Multiple cremation urns: A family has the right to purchase however many cremation options they need. If you’re looking to have a matching set that unites you all across your different homes, you can select urns that are the same size, color, and style. You can also personalize your own urn, and select cremation urns that vary from one another to match the relationship you may have had. You may opt for different engravings that relate to something special about your connection with the deceased, or select styles that remind you personally about them. With everything from heart urns to butterfly urns to simple and solemn urns, there’s no rule that says they must be similar or different.
Keepsake cremation urns: Keepsake cremation urns are smaller in size than traditional urns, but are typically similar in style and color. Since they’re smaller than traditional urns, they make it easier to fill up and divide the ashes among multiple families and households. If the patriarch of a household passes away, perhaps his widow will opt for a cremation urn, but then share some of the ashes by providing each of their descendants with a small keepsake urn to keep in their own home. Families with very little space may also prefer to utilize the keepsake urns to share the ashes without taking up too much space in the home.
- Cremation jewelry for ashes: A third option for sharing the cremated remains of a loved one is through cremation jewelry. Cremation jewelry is when a small pendant specifically made for ashes has a tiny compartment that is capable of holding a pinch of ashes. They’re stunning, exquisite pieces of jewelry in various styles that can be for special occasions or everyday wear. A grandfather who lost his wife, may want to keep a majority of the ashes in a traditional urn, while also sharing a small portion of ashes with each of his children in the form of meaningful pendants that can be worn as bracelets or necklaces or keychains. It allows the ashes to be shared in a way that remains precious and special.
If sharing the ashes of a beloved family member is going to be the best option for you and your loved ones, know that it is not uncommon and can be incredibly helpful in sharing everyone’s grief. Regardless of your family’s reason for sharing the ashes, just remember that it can be done in a number of ways, and that the only right way is whatever way works for you and your family.
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