Thursday, July 19, 2007

Do you need an Urn?

The simple answer to this is sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes temporarily.

OK - I'll start with the Yes - You've just had someone you love cremated and you've decided that you want to keep the cremains. When I use the word "Urn" I don't necessarily mean one that you've purchased from a funeral director or online. An urn can be any container you wish it to be as long as it can contain all of the cremains without the possibility of spillage. I have seen people use Soup Tureens, Ginger Jars, Jewelry cases, Large Beer Steins as well as once an empty champagne bottle filled with cremains, re corked, and placed in an ice bucket with those plastic ice cubes surrounding it; I thought the last one was pretty neat myself. Use your imagination but of course if you want something more traditional you can purchase an urn made specifically to hold cremains.

Next is No - You've decided that you are going to scatter the persons cremated remains somewhere which could be the ocean, the mountains, a favorite fishing locale, a golf course or as one trucker requested of his wife, you can scatter the cremains up and down the road. Now I know that different municipalities have different views on where cremains can be scattered so you'll probably want to heed those rules. However if anyone is concerned, before a family receives cremains they have attained a temperature of anywhere between 1500 and 2000 degrees Fahrenheit so the worry about germs is completely unfounded. Every crematory returns cremains to families in some sort of temporary container if no urn is supplied and once the cremains are scattered I don't really see a need to have an empty urn around unless that is of course what you wish.

Thirdly - Sometimes - Or for lack of a better phrase, "for a while". I would say the majority of cremations culminate with some type of memorial service no matter what you intend to do with the cremains. Sometimes the cremains are present at the service and sometimes they're not. When they are present, most people want some type of container to house the cremains at least until the end of the service. I guess it could be likened to getting dressed up for a special occasion and then kicking off the same clothes the minute you walk in your door. Some funeral homes have special urns which they use for this purpose alone, I guess you could call them rentals. There's nothing wrong with this as long as the fact that the urn has been used before is disclosed. This is a very good time to use something from your home that may have been dear to the deceased.

When I make arrangements with a family who has chosen cremation I try to determine what their final intentions are and guide them accordingly using the "yes, no, sometimes" approach when the topic of an urn comes to the table. Surprisingly enough, many people believe that a cremation automatically entails the purchase of an urn and are often very pleased when they hear what I have to say. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am not a salesman, I merely provide the options and allow my families to select what they wish.


MedStudentWife said...

Why did you use the word "cremains" versus "remains"

Euphemism at work again to try to take the sting out of talking about death ? Trade talk ?

I'm just stirring the pot a bit :0

DeathSweep said...

Cremains are cremated remains - the typical or public reference is "ashes" when in fact cremains are very far from ashes. Although they are the result of incineration, the majority of cremains are "processed" or pulverized bone fragments, therefore the distinction, cremains.


Anonymous said...

I heard somewhere that you can have a diamond made from carbon of a loved one's ashes (I think they refined the process so now they can even use hair f a living person).

I think the idea is as endearing as it is humorous. To think even if Uncle Ted was a complete screw up in life, in death he might finally have some real value... /end sarcasm.

For some reason this post made me think about it.

Have you heard of that process and do you think it would be something you would suggest or do you think it's just tacky? Color me curious.

deathsweep said...

Hey curious - the diamond is made fron a piece of carbon taken from the body, while still a body - usually a piece of brain matter - seriously. Tacky? I don't think so but awfully expensive I know that - but hey, my dead brains worth it!


deathsweep said...
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