When a loved one is cremated, many opt for an urn to place their ashes in. But what’s the right thing to do with the urn? Does it need a permanent home? And what can you do to provide it with that home?
Do you need a permanent place for a loved one’s urn?
When you have a loved one’s urn, you may wonder what you can do with it to honor the person you loved and lost properly. But ultimately, the choice is up to you. Some people like the urn to be in their sights, a reminder of their loved one. They may have a special shelf where it sits surrounded by other mementos of their beloved friend or family member. And while that shelf mostly remains where it was originally placed, they may decide that their small memorial belongs in a different part of the house. So, while not exactly a permanent place, it’s still a place where they can honor their loved one’s memory.
But others would prefer if their loved one’s urn were put in a more permanent location, which is understandable as well. Just like how a friend or family member might find comfort in frequenting a gravesite if their loved one were buried, placing an urn in a spot where it won’t be moved means giving people a chance to come and pay their respects to someone they deeply miss. Knowing that your loved one is forever in the same spot, and perhaps in an area that you associate with them or where they’re surrounded by others you’ve loved, can give you and others who miss them some solace.
What are your options for a permanent place for an urn?
One way to create a permanent place for your loved one’s urn is by giving it an urn burial. Some cemeteries have special sections of their grounds where urns can be buried. Just like if your loved one were buried instead of cremated, they could be placed alongside family members in a burial plot.
Another option for a permanent place for an urn is a columbarium. A columbarium is similar to a mausoleum, except they’re made for cremated remains. In this above-ground structure, there are many niches, or wall spaces, where urns can be stored. Like mausoleums, columbariums can be either public or private. You can purchase a private columbarium for your family, but you also have the option of getting a family-sized niche in a public one as well. Each niche includes a memorial plaque, which may contain an epitaph if you so choose.
If your loved one loved nature and the beauty of the natural world, you might consider an option for a permanent place where they can be at one with the world. Through the use of a special biodegradable urn, you can grow a memorial tree in their honor. The urn contains seeds and soil, as well as your loved one’s cremated remains. Once the seeds grow in the soil, the roots will extend into the ashes, where everything mixes together as the tree develops. Just like with an urn burial or a columbarium, you’ll have a place to visit your loved one, but in this case, the tree will mark where their ashes are.
If your loved one enjoyed being at sea, you have a few choices that can honor what made them so happy throughout their life. Off Florida’s coast exists the first underwater mausoleum, where urns can be placed in a permanent location under the sea at Neptune Memorial Reef. Although only one of these forms of mausoleums exists currently, you can also opt for another undersea memorial by using a reef ball burial. You’ll be giving your loved one a permanent place in the ocean, where they’ll be providing a home to creatures displaced by disappearing reefs. Your loved one’s cremated remains will be used to make a structure that mimics a reef, which will become colonized by marine life as time goes on.
You can also choose to scatter your loved one’s ashes, but that doesn’t provide a permanent place for their remains. Although you won’t be able to revisit them, you will still always know that they are simply one with the pieces of the world that they loved in life. Some boating companies will take you out to sea to the distance where it’s legal to scatter ashes. There are even companies that will help you scatter ashes in the air while you’re skydiving. As spreading ashes is a very personal experience, there are many different ways and places you can choose to scatter them.
Whatever method you choose, whether it be scattering a loved one’s ashes or using a burial option, always become familiar with your federal, state, and local laws and regulations first. Although there are some laws that apply to the entire country, your state or county may have more specific restrictions that govern your area. Ask your funeral director for assistance if you’re unsure about how to follow certain regulations.
Whether you choose a more permanent spot or opt to scatter your loved one’s ashes, what matters is how it provides comfort to you when you’re missing them. For some people, that means having a place, like a columbarium, to go when you want to be with your loved one. For others, there’s a comfort in feeling like your loved one is in the water with you every time you feel the ocean wave. Just like any part of funeral planning, the right choice is what feels right for you and the ones you love.