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How to Bury Cremains: A Look at the Options and Considerations that Come with Burial after Cremation

The word “cremation” usually conjures up an image of a decorative urn sitting atop a mantelpiece in someone’s living room. According to Lucy Berry, however, cremation actually opens up a number of options for honoring a deceased loved one. From diamonds to rockets, dozens of kinds of memorials can be made from cremains.

One of the more popular things to do with cremains is to bury them. Families may choose cremation before burial because it is cheaper, because it honors the wishes of the deceased loved one, because cremains take up less space than a coffin, because it is environmentally friendly or for a host of other reasons.

Burying cremains requires the family to first select an urn in which to place the cremains of their loved one, in preparation for burial.

Sally Rummel, features writer for the Tri-County Times in Fenton, Linden and Holly, Michigan writes that regardless of why one decides to bury cremains, the first step is to select an urn. Urns are small, often beautifully decorated containers designed specifically to hold the ashes of the deceased. They come in a wide range of materials, colors, decorations, sizes and shapes.

Typically, the crematorium will release the ashes in a simple plastic or cardboard box. Some families choose to bury their loved one in this box. A more elaborate and even biodegradable urn may be purchased as well, if this is the family’s wish.

While burying cremains can be as simple as placing the urn in a burial plot, cremation gives families a number of options for interring their loved ones.

While burial of a body is usually limited to placement of the coffin in a grave site, laws governing urns and their contents are not quite as restrictive. Following is a look at the four main places cremains can be buried.

  • Burial Plot

One can choose to place cremains in a traditional burial plot, either by purchasing a new gravesite or by using one that is occupied by a previously deceased family member (such as a spouse, parent or child of the deceased). In the latter case, the urn is typically placed at the head or foot of the grave site.

Because urns take up less space than coffins, cemeteries often allow for the burial of multiple urns in a single plot, though families should check with the cemetery.  An increasing trend is for people to bury cremated remains on sites that are far more natural than traditional cemeteries, also known as Woodland sites.

  • Columbarium

A columbarium is a small building designed to hold urns. It consists of a number (dozens or hundreds) of urn niches. Families may purchase a niche and inter their loved one’s remains there. A plaque is often placed in front of the niche afterward to memorialize the deceased. Columbariums are available at larger cemeteries or at churches (to preserve the remains of deceased parishioners). According to Douglas J. Davies in his article titled ‘Cremation’, placement in a columbarium was one of the earliest methods of interring cremains, whilst other ways of dealing with the ashes have developed more recently.

  • Private Property

Another option for burying cremains is to inter them on private property. Some people choose to bury the urn in their yard. Others choose to bury the cremains in a place that was significant for their loved one (such as a honeymoon spot).

The laws governing the burial of cremains on private property vary from area to area. Therefore, anyone considering this option needs to check with the governing authorities before pursuing this option.

  • Urn Garden

An urn garden is an area of the cemetery dedicated to the interment of cremains. These gardens can be as simple as a grassy area, and as elaborate as a space where the urns become part of the rocks and benches in the space. @anaisnin, an author whose book is focusing on 19th century Romanticism, even found a flower garden urn in Italy that provided a beautiful place for flowers while safely preserving the cremains of the loved one.

Burying cremains does not preclude using them to create other kinds of memorials to remember the deceased.

Handling the cremains of a loved one is a very personal matter. Everybody will deal with the cremains, and with the memory of their loved one, differently. The choices are as varied as the preferences of the people who remain after their loved one has passed.

As a result, it is important to know that burying cremains does not preclude taking some of the ashes and using them to create a memorial to the deceased loved one. For example, Heart In Diamond offers families a way to turn some of their loved one’s cremains into a beautiful diamond that can then be worn in any type of jewelry.

Memorials such as cremation diamonds only use a portion of the deceased’s cremains. You can, therefore, create a tangible reminder of your loved one in a memorial diamond from Heart In Diamond, while also burying their cremains in a manner that honors the place they held in your life.

What to do with cremains



Our consultants understand the emotional weight of making this important decision. To guide you through the process and help you create your never ending bond, please talk to us.
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