Selecting the right Urn

by Alex Johnson March 29, 2019 5 min read

The selection of the urn for your recently deceased love one is certainly no easy task.  The flowers at the memoriam will eventually fade and die, the eulogy speech has its brief moment on the stage and then is never heard again, and the funeral home is only for one single ceremony. But the cremation urn you pick is what will last for years and years to come.  The cremation urn is what sits atop your mantle or rests beside your bed, or fades into the ocean, or is entombed into the earth forever.  The urn is the final resting place, and for many, it’s something that is passed from generation to generation, a lasting symbol of love. From deciding on location, to choosing a color, to selecting a size and how it’s going to be distributed, we’re here to help you through the steps from beginning to end when it comes to picking your urn.



1. The Last Location: Decide where you want to release or store the ashes

When it comes time to select an urn for the final resting place of your loved one, one of the first questions to ask yourself is where the final resting place will be.  Some family members choose to send the urn floating off peacefully into the ocean waves, setting the loved one free.  Others prefer to have the urn placed in a tomb or mausoleum, wall, or in the earth, as a form of burial.  Some families even have columbarium niches where all the members will eventually be.  And the most common approach is to have the urn placed somewhere within the home.  Once you’ve decided which resting place you want, you can use it to help guide your selection process for which urn you want purchase.  



2. Picking the Perfect Color and Theme:Decide what colors, personal touches, and elements you want

Selecting the right color of the urn can be a family discussion or an individual task.  Colors are often so symbolic and representative of not just people, but of personalities and characteristics.  There’s a calm and cool blue, adventuresome green, brilliant and happy purple, somber and elegant blacks, all that reflect different emotions and moods.  You can ask yourself what colors best match with the personality or your recently deceased, or you can select it based off what their favorite color was, or that favorite shirt they always wore on Sundays.


The same goes for selecting a theme.  What memories or thoughts do you want to have when you look upon the urn?  What emotions do you want to have evoked when the urn catches your eye?  An engraved urn, with the image of doves, or a recognized quote, or an urn shaped like a butterfly, and either decorated or one simple color. Various shapes are also able to best symbolize the best things you loved about your family member. Selecting a color and theme starts with thinking of your loved one and all the colors, symbols, words, or animals that you lovingly associate them with, and selecting an urn from that. As an important part of the process, this is where you truly personalize your piece and make it uniquely yours.  With a wide range of symbols, medallions, engravings, personalized quotes or names, insertable pictures.



3. Selecting a Size and Purpose:Choose how you want to divide the ashes and what size urn you’ll need

For the most part, urns come in one of five or so sizes, depending partly upon the size of the deceased (average adult, child, or taller and larger individual) but also depending on whether a family wants single distribution for the ashes, or to have them shared amongst close family members. Traditionally, urns can hold 1 lb of ashes per cubic inch.  So, a person weighing 150 pounds would need an urn that can hold an approximation of 150 cubic inches. 


With that said, you can look at the different urns according to how much they can hold. Keepsake urns typically hold 3-4 cubic inches of space.  This is small for an entire adult body, but the unique and special keepsake urns allow for a family to distribute the ashes so that multiple members can put some of the ashes into their own private tealight or lamplight keepsake urn.  The same goes with cremation jewelry, which carry just a pinch of ashes, but enough to place into a locket or keychain to keep a memento of your loved close.


When the ashes will be divided amongst a select few family members, perhaps the wife and three children of the deceased, the small urns carrying 20-45 cubic inches of ashes are the best choice, or grandparents wanting to split the ashes and needing medium sized urns of 30-55 cubic inches. Individuals who are over 6 feet or over 230 pounds might need to up the size from the standard size urn, and purchase an extra-large to accommodate for the additional amount of ashes.



 4. Metal, Marble, Ceramic, and More:Pick the ideal material to suit your plans and needs

There is also a multitude of material to select from for your loved one’s urn.  The material you choose might be dependent upon some of your selections for the previous categories.  If you’re hoping to release the ashes into the ocean or bury them in the yard, a biodegradable box or paper turtle urn might be the ideal choice.  These will degrade into the earth in a harmless manner, releasing the ashes but refraining from damaging anything.  If you want to have a special engraving on the urn, you might choose to go with a metal urn or a stone urn, materials that can have special words or phrases carved into them.  Perhaps you love the durable and traditional yet unique look of a wooden urn.  Some are going to last longer, like the metal, stone, and wood urns, while others are temporary housing places, like paper urns that are easier to sustain damage.



5. Special Remembrances:Select cremation jewelry, keepsakes, or tealights to personalize your memory

As was mentioned with the sizes, there are more than just traditional urns to choose from when it comes to selecting an urn.  Some families choose to get personalized necklaces or pendants, allowing each family member to keep a pinch of ashes inside a small cavity of the jewelry that they can wear around their neck or on their wrist.  These are often a great means of peace and calm during the mourning process. Other families love selecting individual tealights for various members, which can even be purchased to match the primary urn that holds the majority of ashes.  Personal keepsakes allow for various individuals to personalize their memories and experiences with the deceased and make their passing memorable and unique to each.   Many of these can be purchased in conjunction with the primary urn, and simply act to complement the urn itself. 


Whether you’re on your own or you have an entire family to help make decisions with you, it’s no easy process to select an urn.  Follow these steps to help ease at least one of the many burdens your facing, and find peace and confidence in the decisions you make.  We’re ready to support your during this process as well.

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