People often choose cremation because of how flexible this option can be – but this flexibility can leave grieving family members wondering what to do with the ashes and urn after saying those final goodbyes. Answering this question, independently or as a family, will require considerable thought and introspection.
Some families choose to scatter the ashes, others keep the urn in a family columbarium, some divide the ashes so that each family member can retain a portion… the options are limitless. We’ll cover five of the most common types of memorials below. We’ll explain later how you can combine two or more options to create a meaningful memorial that suits the needs of the family and honors the memory of the departed.
1. Shadowbox Memorial
A shadowbox memorial is perfect for a small, personal memorial with or without a portion of the ashes. This one is straightforward – include the photos you treasure most along with possessions that bring back memories, like the war medals that starred in so many childhood stories or the antique hairbrush that your loved one used to put your hair in braids as a young one.
2. Keepsake Memorials
Keepsake memorials are ideal for situations when the ashes are to be spread but one or more members of the family want to retain a portion of the ashes as an heirloom. This may be a tiny sealed locket or something as precious as ashes fused into a synthetic gemstone. Keepsake memorials don’t have to contain ashes by necessity, and many memorial companies are happy to inscribe a short a message instead.
3. Sharing Urns
Sharing urns, and sometimes called keepsake urns, will give you the ability to distribute the ashes to the members of a very large family. This is the ideal way to give each branch of the family the freedom to create their own memorials or even scatter the ashes if they want to. These small cremation urns for ashesare just as elegant as the full-sized versions.
4. Memorial Garden
Planting or dedicating a memorial garden is a great way to create a welcoming home for the scattering of ashes, or to create a meeting ground for the family or individuals to contemplate the memory of the loved one. Birdhouses and wildflowers will bring thriving life to the garden, and a ceremonial tree planting is a common way to mark the spot.
5. Formal Memorial
The formal memorial is very straightforward – this would a traditional burial in a cemetery or columbarium. You can use either a permanent or a biodegradable urn for this purpose. This is ideal for a one-time farewell but makes a good meeting spot for memorial gatherings. Decorating the memorial is a great way to get everybody involved and to provide a sense of closure.
You can combine any of these options to suit the needs of your family and your sense of duty. A keepsake urn can fit into a shadowbox, you can fill the shadowbox with notes from the family at the formal funeral, you can scatter the ashes at the memorial garden but save some in a locket, whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.
We hope this guide will help you find a memorial solution that honors the memory of the loved one or loved ones you have lost. Memories last forever, and the right memorial will be unforgettable.