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Posted on May 6, 2022 by jhcadm

How to Choose the Proper Urn or Burial Marker

Deciding on the design and makeup of a loved one’s urn or burial marker can be tough for many families. This is your loved one’s final resting place, and you want to make sure you make a selection that honors their memory. At James H. Cole Home for Funerals, we are highly experienced in assisting families make these difficult but important decisions after someone’s passing, and we wanted to share the knowledge we’ve gained from over 100 years of helping Detroit families heal after loss.

Let’s start with the basics.

What Size Do I Need?

Size is a critical consideration when it comes to selecting either a cremation urn or a burial marker. Prior to any other factors (such as style), size needs to be the very first factor you determine, as this is likely to influence all other decisions in the process.

Sizing for Funeral Urns

The recommended practice for selecting the size of a cremation urn is based on the deceased’s body weight prior to cremation. For every pound of body weight, you’ll need at least one cubic inch of space. If between measurements or if you’re unsure about whether a certain size will be enough, it’s always better to choose a size slightly larger. For example, a 185lb adult will require an urn that’s at least 185 cubic inches in volume. You may choose to opt for an urn that is 190 cubic inches to provide some extra space.

If you’re considering splitting up the ashes among family members, then ideally you will want to have your full-sized urn and any smaller keepsake items already selected by the time the ashes are ready for pick-up. This will allow the crematorium or funeral home to transfer the ashes into all desired pieces. If you are unsure about which urns, keepsakes, or jewelry pieces you would like by the time the cremation has occurred, that is perfectly ok too. Just keep in mind that you may have to re-open the urn or temporary receptacle to transfer the ashes into their desired keepsakes.

Sizing for Burial Markers

Sizing for burial markers, headstones, and footstones is largely dependent on the size of the burial plot you have, cemetery regulations, and your family’s personal preference. The “traditional” size of a simple, flat burial marker is 24 inches by 12 inches. You can opt for a larger marker as space allows. You may also choose a standing gravestone or a companion grave marker, which is a popular option for spouses and long-term partners who have burial plots directly next to one another and who will each have their own space on the grave marker.

What Style Should I Get?

With a few exceptions, style—more than size—is entirely up to the preferences of the deceased’s family (or perhaps the deceased themselves if they left specific instructions for an urn or grave marker prior to their death). Style can include material choices, color, design/pattern, and any customizations or engravings.

Cremation Urn Style Options

Urns come in all shapes and sizes, which means you are very likely to find something that truly reflects your needs. You may want to look for an urn that represents the tastes of the deceased, or you may choose an urn that best matches the style of your home (if you are the one who will be keeping the urn). Whatever the case may be, you are going to want to consider two important factors: budget and material.

Just like with caskets, urns can range in price fairly significantly depending on the materials they are made from and any customizations included. Having a price point in mind can help you determine what options are and are not available to your family.

You’ll also want to keep in mind the climate of where you live when choosing the material of the urn to ensure it won’t become degraded or warped over time. For example, if you live in a particularly humid environment, you may want to avoid wood-based urns. Luckily, you still have numerous options as urns can be made from stone, metal—even glass. Some families choose to have urns created that represent the deceased’s hobbies or interests. Others may opt to get their urn engraved with the likeness of the deceased. It’s entirely up to you.

Burial Marker Style Options

Just as there are different styles of urns to choose from, the same is true for headstones. Some families like to choose a consistent style of marker if they will be located within a shared family plot. This way, it is visibly obvious that all individuals with headstones within this grouping of plots are members of the same family. 

There are a wide variety of shapes, materials, and designs you can choose from. And just like with urns, you’ll want to consider climate when selecting the final material your grave marker is made from. Because grave markers are subject to weather and erosion, you may want to opt for a more durable stone if you experience harsher weather and temperatures.

Markers can come in a wide array of colors, including red, pink, black, gray, and green. The company you purchase the marker from should also provide etching when it’s time to add names and dates to a grave marker. You may also choose to incorporate a more complex, custom design (such as a favorite quote or piece of imagery).

Talk to a Funeral Director

If at any point, you find yourself with questions or you’re not sure how to proceed with selecting an urn or grave marker, speak to a funeral director. They will be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to style, size, and customization, as well as offer additional insights that you may not have considered before. Reach out to our team of dedicated funeral directors to learn more about how James H. Cole Home for Funerals can help you along your journey.

Posted in Funeral Industry, General Topics