When a family loses a loved one, they need to make decisions that they may not be prepared for or expecting. Selecting the right cremation urn as a final resting place for their loved one’s ashes can seem overwhelming and many can find it challenging figuring out where to start. Below is an informative guide with helpful insights related to choosing the right sized urn for your loved one. We also highlight what you can expect from the funeral home or cremation provider when you receive your loved one’s ashes.
A cremation urn is a receptacle or vessel that is designed to contain the cremated remains of a person or pet. Cremation urns are made from a variety of different materials including metal, marble, bamboo, wood, ceramic, paper, and pulp fiber. Cremation urns also come in a number of different sizes ranging from small keepsakes that hold a tiny portion of a persons ashes to companion urns that hold more than one set of ashes.
Cremation urns are typically filled from either the top or the bottom. Depending on the type of urn, the top can have a lid that lifts up (or unscrews) and the ashes are placed inside. Alternatively, there could be a plate on the bottom of the cremation urn that is fixed in place +with a screw that helps seal the urn.
Many cremation urns give you the ability to have them customized with your loved one’s name, date of birth and passing, and a saying or even an image engraved on a plate attached to the urn, or on the urn itself.
How Do I Choose the Right Size Urn?
Below is an informative step-by-step guide to help you select the right size cremation urn for the ashes of their loved one.
How Much Did the Person Weigh?
The weight of the loved one who passed is a good starting point to determine the size of the urn you will need. There are differences in the bone vs. tissue per person, among many other factors, however, their weight can serve as a pretty good indicator of the size cremation urn that you’ll need.
In general, one pound of body weight is equal to one cubic inch of ashes. So a 200 pound person would equate to approximately 200 cubic inches of ashes. Standard volumes of cremation urns include the following:
- Individual urns will hold approximately 180 to 220 cubic inches of ashes
- Companion urns are designed for including more two or more sets of cremated ashes and are typically large enough for 350 to 550 cubic inches of ashes.
- Keepsake urns are smaller urns that usually fit anywhere from 1 to 50 cubic inches of ashes
Keep in mind that every urn can vary significantly in the amount of ashes it can hold. However, the information above gives a good general guide related to the category of urn where you can start your selection process from.
Are you going to be splitting the ashes among family and/or friends?
If you will be splitting a loved one’s ashes with siblings, children, parents, or friends, this is going to lessen the volume and size you need for the cremation urn. Many families choose to divide ashes 2, 3 or even 4 ways – in that case you need to make sure each cremation urn is large enough to hold the amount of ashes you will receive. Keep in mind that if you each get a full size individual urn, it will still work fine and there will simply be some extra space in the urn.
Will you be adding ashes to the urn in the future?
Certain families choose to purchase a companion urn in advance to include the cremated ashes of other family members when they eventually pass. This is common when a family loses a child and is becoming a preference of people who lose a spouse.
In addition, some families choose to also include mementos, pictures, a wedding ring, watch, or other items in the urn along with the ashes. In this case, a larger urn may also be needed.
Will you be displaying the cremation urn?
If you will be displaying the urn in the home or other special place, deciding on where this will be displayed may influence the type of urn you purchase. Some families may choose to have the cremation urn on display in a gathering area, like the family room, or on a shelf in the kitchen. Others may opt for a more private display, such as in the bedroom or home office. This location may impact the size of urn you choose and the materials the urn is made out of.
Some urns available on the market today are highly decorative and create a beautiful and warm addition to a home’s décor (and many wouldn’t even guess that it’s an urn but more of a work of art). There are other cremation urns that capture the personality of a loved one with customized engravings or a ceramic urn with flowers to honor the loved one who loved to spend time in the garden. For people interested in displaying the urn in their bedroom or a having a more private display, there are many options including beautiful wood urns or other personalized urns. Bamboo urns, such as Eco Home, provides an elegant, eco-friendly and comforting way to have a nice reminder of a loved one in the bedroom or formal living room.
What is your budget for the urn and memorial?
Determining your budget for the urn will be an important factor in narrowing down which one will be suitable for your loved one. Cremation urns range in price from $49 to upwards of $3,000. Such a wide range of prices is based on many factors, including the urn size, material, accents, and if any personalization is included.
For families who don’t have a large budget, a simple individual wood or bamboo urn can be a great and also dignified option. Priced from $49 to $150, these urns have several different customization options and make for an affordable tribute to a loved one without sacrificing quality or beauty. Another option is a Living Urn which can be purchased from $129 to $159 and allows you to grow a tree memorial from a biodegradable urn holding your loved one’s ashes.
For families who aren’t as concerned about pricing, an option that’s growing in popularity is the Plant Urn, which is made from recycled hardwoods and gives you the ability to plant a small plant or succulent on top. This unique decorative urn ranges in price from $295 to $595, depending on the size chosen.
Taking into consideration the points above can help you select the correct size urn for a loved one and one that is suitable for you and your family.
How Are the Ashes Delivered from the Funeral Home?
After a cremation is performed, most sets of ashes are placed in a plastic bag and either given to the family in a temporary urn made from plastic or metal or an urn the family chose from the funeral home. Alternatively, it is becoming more common where a family will purchase an urn online or elsewhere and provide to the funeral director to fill.
If the ashes are returned in a temporary urn or container, you can easily transfer the ashes to a more permanent urn or other memorial of choice at a later date. Many times you can simply take the top of the bag and place it in the urn as you gently tip the bag over and pour the ashes from the bag into the permanent urn. Alternatively, with some urns you can simply keep the ashes in the bag and place it inside the compartment in the urn.
Choosing the Correct Size Urn – Frequently Asked Questions
Choosing a cremation urn is not something families do too often and you most likely have some questions. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive about choosing the correct size urn.
My loved one weighed about 185 pounds and the cremation urn we’re interested in fits up to 180 cubic inches. What should I do?
When the weight of a loved one is slightly more than the estimated volume of the cremation urn, you have a few options. You can purchase the urn that holds less than the ashes you have and then choose a keepsake urn, cremation pendant or small scattering urn for the remaining ashes. This allows you to still order the urn you’re interested in and also do something special with the remaining ashes. Alternatively, you can find out if the urn you’re interested in is available in a larger size.
I want to an urn to hold the ashes of my spouse (or other person) as well as my own. How can I choose an urn that does this?
With the increase in the number of people choosing to be cremated, many are making the decision to have their ashes combined with a loved one’s ashes in a cremation urn. Companion urns are designed for this purpose and commonly hold 300 to 550 cubic inches of ashes. Alternatively, you can choose to combine the ashes together then separate them into multiple urns honoring you both with the same memorials.
I have anxiety about placing my loved one’s ashes in the urn – who can help me with this?
Most funeral directors or cremation service providers will help you place the ashes of your loved one in an urn at no charge. If you choose to place the ashes in the urn yourself, follow the instructions provided with the urn or contact the supplier of the urn directly to learn more.
Do I have to purchase a cremation urn from the funeral home?
No, you are not required to purchase the cremation urn from the funeral home. Funeral homes typically have a wide selection of cremation urns to choose from, however, you are not obligated to buy one from them. If you choose to buy an urn elsewhere and do it before the ashes are returned back to you, you can typically provide it to the funeral director and he or she will give the ashes back to you in your urn. If you do not buy an urn from the funeral home or provide them with an urn, the ashes will typically be returned to you in a temporary plastic or metal container. With this, you can transfer the ashes to another urn at a future date.
There are so many cremation urn options and it seems overwhelming – what should I do?
We understand reviewing cremation urn options at a funeral home or online can seem overwhelming. If you want help narrowing down the options, you can give our Denver-based customer service team a call at (800) 495-7022, ext. 0 – we’re here to help!
My loved one was buried, however, I still want an to include some meaningful personal things in an urn - is that okay?
Definitely! A cremation urn can not only be used to hold the ashes of a loved one, it can also serve as a personal visual reminder of that person. Letters, photographs, a wedding ring, and other personal mementos are commonly included inside cremation urns.
We are interested in purchasing multiple urns or an urn with a cremation pendants. Is there a discount available?
Many people request multiple urns or keepsakes for their loved one. Because of the popularity of doing this, we offer a discount when multiple urns or keepsakes are purchased – please use discount code FAMILYPROGRAM at checkout for 10% off your order.
My beloved dog recently passed away and weighed 80 lbs. Do I have to use a pet urn or can I pick something else?
There are a number of pet urns available on our website and other websites that you can choose from. However, if none of these are a fit and you’re finding it to be a challenge finding the right one for you, you can also choose a smaller human urn. Or, if you like a human urn that is larger, no problem, it’s okay to have some extra room in the urn along with the ashes. Feel free to include some mementos of your dog along with the ashes.
Can I fly with my loved one’s ashes?
Yes, you can definitely fly with your loved one’s ashes and it is actually quite common. Be sure to have the ashes in a biodegradable urn (such as one made from bamboo, paper, or other biodegradable materials) so it’s TSA compliant and can be scanned by the x-ray equipment. It’s also recommended to bring a death certificate and certificate of cremation with you to the airport to present if asked. When going through security let the TSA agent know you have cremated remains (or ashes) with you and they will help accommodate. Also, as rules and regulations can change it’s always a good idea to check with your airline and airport before traveling. If you plan on traveling outside of the U.S. with the ashes, be sure to check with the destination country (and any countries you may pass through in transit) to make sure there are no additional regulations or restrictions.
What are the best urns for scattering ashes?
Scattering urns provide a safe, easy, and convenient way to spread a loved one’s ashes. The Eco Scattering Urn is one of the most popular scattering urns available today and is offered online and by thousands of funeral homes nationwide. It is made from bamboo, a sustainable resource, and comes standard in a cotton bag as well as a locking top that allows you to secure the ashes in the urn during transport and makes it easy to scatter at multiple locations.
I want an urn that I can bury - will any urn work?
There are multiple options if you’re interested in burying your loved one’s ashes. You can choose an urn that is placed in a permanent vault, or choose a biodegradable burial urn to bury your loved one’s ashes. The biodegradable urn will break down over time in the soil and is a more natural way to memorialize a loved one.
I would like a small display urn for the family room – what do you recommend?
A small display urn is a great way to memorialize a loved one in a special place in the home. These typically hold a small portion of the ashes and are sometimes referred to as keepsake urns. There are many options available that can be found with a quick online search. One of the more popular ones is a small Plant Urn that is made from recycled hardwoods and comes with a vase on top where you can plant a succulent or small plant.
Other Ways to Memorialize a Loved One with Their Ashes
There are many other personal and unique ways families can memorialize their loved one in addition to choosing the right cremation urn. These can be uplifting and beautiful ways a family and friends can remember a loved one.
Ashes into a Tree
A memorial option that’s growing in popularity is to use a Living Urn to grow a tree from the special BioUrn® holding a loved one’s ashes. You can choose from a list of over 50 trees (narrowed down by zip code to what grows best in your area), involve family and friends in the planting, and watch as the tree grows.
This "living memorial" can serve as a beautiful living memorial that can be enjoyed by all who knew your loved one for many years to come.
Scatter the Ashes
Scattering memorials are also a popular option. Many people choose to scatter their loved one’s ashes in one or more places that had special meaning to the person who passed. This can include a birthplace, favorite vacation destination, a special hiking trail, or in the yard at home, among virtually endless options. You can use a scattering urn designed to scatter ashes of a loved one (and that also helps with securely transporting the ashes). In addition, many people choose to have family and friends participate in the scattering and make it into a memorial event or celebration of life.
In addition, to ash scatterings on land, many families are also choosing to scatter their loved one's ashes in water. This is sometimes referred to as a water burial or scattering at sea. The are multiple cremation urns available designed for this purpose and the most popular one offered by funeral homes is the Eco Water Urn. This unique biodegradable water urn floats upright on the water, similar to a buoy, and gracefully releases the ashes into the water within a few minutes time.
Ashes into Jewelry
Another option is to order personalized jewelry and place the ashes inside. This can include a cremation pendant, that can be worn as a necklace, bracelet, placed on a keyring, or placed in a special place in the house. Most cremation jewelry has the option of being engraved with your loved one’s name, dates of birth and passing, an image, and a sentiment of choice.
Ashes in Keepsakes
Keepsake urns are great for families to divide up the ashes where each family member (or friend) receives a portion. These are designed to hold a small amount of cremated remains and many of the larger urns available now come in smaller “keepsake” versions.
When you’re looking for a cremation urn for a loved one, give it some thought before purchasing and consider the helpful tips outlined above. If you need further assistance, please reach out to our Denver-based customer service team at (800) 495-7022, ext. 0 – we’re here to help!