Skip to content
How to Choose a Cremation Urn

How to Choose a Cremation Urn

When a loved one passes, selecting the best way to memorialize can be difficult and emotional. There are many ways to honor the individual and help yourself and your family keep their memory alive. You can take the time to find special cremation urns that fit into your family traditions and beliefs or start a new tradition.

Here are some thoughts to consider if you do not know where to start when searching for the right urn. Try discussing these options with your family to see if you can find a way to celebrate your loved one's life with your family and friends.

Why Choose Cremation? | What Do You Do With Ashes? | Choosing a Cremation Urn | Keeping Cremation Urns | Separating Cremation Ashes | Which Urn is Right for Your Loved One?

Why Do People Choose Cremation?

why cremation

People choose cremation for different reasons. The practice is becoming more common in the United States because of many reasons, including a lower cost of cremation (vs. burial), families are less traditional than in the past, and cremation is considered more eco-friendly than taking up land in a burial plot.

Cremation can also be simpler for families to arrange. Many people who plan ahead and state their preferences for afterlife options feel better about giving their family steps to take that will not be financially burdensome or require their loved ones to put together complex arrangements at a time when they are grieving.

Most major religions also accept cremation as an acceptable practice, adding to the increasing number of individuals selecting this form of disposition. After the cremation, the family will need to decide what to do with the remains.

What Do You Do with Cremation Ashes?

cremation urn

Where to put cremation ashes will depend, in part, on your intended use. There are various ways to memorialize your loved one, and the urn you choose will depend on your family's plans.


Some families choose to bury the ashes and will have to ensure that the urn they select meets the cemetery requirements or requirements in their local area. There will often be size limits and restrictions on the type of material that the urn can be made of.

Materials that cemeteries frequently suggest include:

  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Ceramic

A cemetery may need to protect the ground from collapsing when urns break down, which is why some often require a vault to be placed around the urn.

A burial of the ashes can also include placing them in a biodegradable tree urn, such as The Living Urn, and grow a tree memorial. This is becoming more and more popular as many people opt for this unique ‘living memorial’ option. Many families will do this in their yard or on their land, in a nearby park (with permission), or other special place.

In Your Home

Sometimes families choose to keep an urn in their home to continue to feel close to their loved ones. If your family intends to keep the urn in your home, you will be able to select any style that meets your preferences.  There are many urns for the home made of out wood, bamboo, metal, or ceramic. In addition, you can also grow a plant or bonsai tree from The Living Urn Indoors – making for a beautiful ‘living memorial’ that can be kept inside.

Columbarium Niche

If you intend to enter the ashes in a columbarium niche, you will be placing the urn in a wall section or niche at a cemetery. The spaces for each niche are small, so you will need to ensure that you select an urn that will fit. This option will involve a smaller memorial that the family can visit.


Families often decide to scatter their loved one's ashes at one or more locations that meant something to the person. If you wish to scatter the ashes, you may select an environmentally friendly urn such as the Eco Scattering Urn, or a less decorative urn unless you plan to keep them on display for some period before scattering them.  In addition, if you prefer to hire a service to help you scatter a loved one at a special place (and handle all permitting, transportation, etc.), consider Ecorial Ash Scattering Services.

Memory Forests and Urns

A Memory Forest provides a different burial option for families. You can purchase The Living Urn and plant a tree out of your loved one's ashes. The tree will then grow to provide an uplifting reminder of the person who you lost. Visiting your loved one will mean walking through a park and honoring that person with a tree.

Families can arrange for special services at the Memory Forest, including a tree-planting ceremony. This option can be an appealing alternative for families who want to find a tranquil final resting place that is pleasant to visit as a family.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Cremation Urn

good cremation urn

Choosing a cremation urn can seem overwhelming, but there are several ways to narrow down your choices.

What Makes a Good Urn?

A suitable urn will be one that you feel best suits your plans for remembering your loved one. The style will be a crucial element of your decision if you plan to look at the urn every day. In those cases, you will want to carefully consider the aesthetics and how the urn will fit into your home and décor.

If you decide on a tree memorial or other burial, then the aesthetics of the urn will be less important as it will be part of the memorial and out of sight.

If you plan to inter the ashes in a columbarium niche, the size may be the most crucial factor because you will not have much flexibility in the plot's size, as they are often predetermined based on the number of units on the wall.

Is it Difficult to Choose an Urn?

Choosing an urn can be a challenge for a grieving family. You want to ensure that you make a choice that honors the person who you lost. If you are having trouble selecting an urn, you should consider how an urn can reflect your loved one's unique personality.

Themed urns may include nature, angels, books, dragons, golf, or butterflies, to name just a few. If you can find something that makes you think of your loved one and remember their personality, then that urn might be the best choice.  Also, trees are believed to have certain personalities – so if you’re interested in The Living Urn, you can first do an internet search to find what tree matched your loved one the best!

What Size Cremation Urn Do I Need?

There are different urn sizes; however, the average adult will require an urn of about 200 cubic inches.

Should your family member plan to be cremated and share an urn with their companion, then there are larger urns available to accommodate two adults. These are "companion urns" and will be much larger than other styles. 

Also, many families choose to divide ashes of a loved one into multiple urns. This can be because they prefer multiple memorials, to scatter at different locations, or have family spread out in different places and each family member wants some of the ashes to memorialize their loved one in their own special way.

What You Need to Know About Keeping Cremation Urns

keeping a cremation urn

If you plan to keep the ashes in your home, you may have a few questions. Here are some things to think about if you are considering this option.

How Long Can You Keep Ashes in an Urn?

Cremation ashes will last for generations and have no expiration - you don’t have to worry about how long you keep them in an urn.

How do I Seal Cremation Ashes?

You can touch human ashes without harming them, so do not worry about filling the urn yourself. The cremation process leaves behind tri-calcium phosphate, which is what makes up our bones. Other minerals may also be in the ashes, but all of them will be ones that naturally occur in our environment and are completely safe.

If you're worried about storing the ashes in your home because of possible health risks, you can put those concerns to rest. Storing ashes in your home is no threat to your physical well-being.

Filling the urn with ashes is simple. How you seal the urn will vary depending on the style. If the urn is ceramic, you can place the ashes inside and then place the lid on top. If you want to seal the urn permanently, you can use silicone epoxy. This epoxy can also be used to seal metal, wood, and stone urns.

Some urns fasten with screws that hold the lid in place. You will not need any glue to keep these adequately sealed.

Is It Bad Luck to Keep Ashes at Home?

Different cultures have different feelings about the appropriate way to handle urns. Feng Shui thinking on ashes in the home is acceptable, but that the placement matters. The urn should be in a location with plenty of space. The living family members and the deceased person will need space for the urn's intense energy and emotions. Recommended places for urns in this tradition will include dens, living rooms, indoor conservatories, and a room with an alter space.

Don't be afraid to dress up the location with a ceremonial cloth, and make sure to keep the urn eye level. You could also place a photograph of the person looking happy and healthy to remember them at their best.

Deciding to keep the ashes in your home is a personal decision that will depend on your family's beliefs and culture.

Risks of Keeping the Ashes at Home

If you do plan to keep the ashes of your loved one at home, you should remember that you do not want to risk the urn breaking. A glass or ceramic urn might fall and shatter, which could be an emotional and heartbreaking experience – so be sure those are kept in a safe place. There are other options for beautiful cremation urns that are sturdier and less likely to shatter if dropped.

Is it Okay to Separate Cremation Ashes?

separating ashes

Modern families often choose to divide the ashes of their loved ones. There are many reasons to do so, and there is nothing wrong with taking this path if it is what makes your family comfortable.

If you choose to plant a tree with the ashes, you can divide the ashes into multiple urns that the family members can plant near their homes or other memorable locations.

Another reason to divide ashes is to fashion keepsakes or jewelry from them. Necklaces, rings, and other cremation jewelry can be a beautiful and meaningful way to save some of the ashes and to wear them as a reminder of the person.

Other families will divide the ashes into tiny urns so that all members will take some to their home in a decorative container. You can even use the ashes to blend into the glass and create unique works of art, known as cremation glass.

Below are a few of the more common keepsake urns.

Choosing the Right Urn to Memorialize Your Loved One

choosing the right urn

Selecting an urn for the ashes of a loved one is a highly personal decision. Only you and your family can find the best way to remember the person and honor their life. As long as the memorial provides you with a beautiful way to grieve and remember the person, your decision is the right one.

Previous article Biodegradable Urns - 2024 Comprehensive Guide