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The Importance of Urns in Modern Life

The Importance of Urns in Modern Life

The urn is traditionally a funerary object, typically made from clay or metal, which can hold the cremated ashes or other remains of a deceased person. Urns may also have a decorative function for instance in the case of a meaningful display at the funeral.

The History of Urns and How They've Changed the Face of Burial Practices

In ancient times, urns were typically made from ceramic, stone, or metal. They were designed to maintain the symbolism of a person's life. For example, a person who was an artist would get an urn that looked like a paintbrush. The first cremation took place in 1876 and the first crematorium opened in 1878. In 1915, the first modern crematorium opened where people could have "a service with dignity and reverence."

How to Choose the Perfect Urn for Yourself or a Loved One

Choosing the right urn is a personal process. It can be challenging, but also rewarding when you find the perfect urn for your loved one. It’s important to take time to think about what matters most to you and what would make a meaningful memorial for your loved one.

Reasons Why it's Important to Make Arrangements Ahead of Time for Your Funeral/ Cremation Services

Life is unpredictable and difficult to plan for which is why it's important to make arrangements ahead of time for your funeral or cremation services.

It can be difficult when we are grieving for a loved one and at the same time trying to consider what the best service for them would be. It can be hard to know what exactly you want in a service as there are so many options that seem equally valid. But the decision needs to be made because if you don't, it will cause more stress on your loved ones when they need all the help they can get. Planning ahead of time also allows you to think about what kind of service you want without being pressured by how much money you have or how long it takes to plan something.

What is an urn and why is it important?

The Oxford Dictionary defines an urn as “a tall decorated container, especially one used for holding the ashes of a dead person”. 

Note: It does not define urn material, urn size or any other detail that the urn must entail and this is reflected in the wide variety of funerary urns that are available today. 

The urn has been used for centuries, throughout different cultures. The earliest known urns are from Jiahu, China and date back to 7,000 BC. They were also used in the Bronze Age, Ancient Geek and ancient Rome, where Romans placed the urns in a niche inside a columbarium. 

Traditional Japanese burial ceremonies involve cremation and use of an urn to hold the deceased’s ashes and bones, ensuring the bones are placed in the urn from the feet to the head. Sometimes the remains are split between urns, some to a grave or temple and some at home.  

In Hinduism, cremation is used to separate the body and soul. The cremation process is believed to force the soul out of the body, by destroying the body.  In India the ashes are scattered into the Ganges wherever possible. 

The Place of Urns in Modern Life

Why are urns popular in modern life?

Graphical illustration in pie chart of cremation rates in The United States 2020 - 56.1% (Source:CANA)

In the past the majority of Americans were still buried in a casket, but this changed in 2015 with more people choosing cremation than burial and with cremation rates for 2020 reaching 56.1% (Source: CANA).  This can in part be attributed to cremation is considered less taboo by religions than in eras past, including the Vatican issuing guidelines allowing Catholics to be cremated. Cremation can also be less costly than buying a plot and people are no longer staying in the same geographic location for life.

Funerary urns come in all forms, from small keepsake matching sets for easy division among relatives to large sculptures.

What should be done with an urn after cremated ashes are scattered?

If someone chooses to scatter their loved ones ashes they may be left wondering, what should they do with the urn?

Some people choose to keep the urn in their home as a memorial/tribute. If this is your decision, you can place it on a bookshelf or mantelpiece and decorate it with flowers or other objects that have special meaning to you. This is a great way to remember those who have passed on before us is by keeping their memories alive through these small tokens.

Some biodegradable urns can be used for disbursing ashes at sea. The cremation ashes can be placed into the ocean whilst still inside the urn and you can watch it float away where it will naturally break down, returning to nature. 

However, there are some people who believe that this object has been tainted after it was used for its intended purpose - a vessel for the cremated - and want nothing more to do with it. For these people, they dispose of the urn and sometimes ceramic/pottery urns may be smashed and its parts dispersed in place of the ashes.

white cremation urn for ashes displayed on table top with flowers and photo frame in background


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