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Cremation Options: Boxes, Urns, Jewelry and More

Updated on September 7, 2014
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We don’t like to talk about it but have you thought about what will happen to your body when you die? Cremation has become a popular choice for many for purely economical reasons. But then what? Let’s talk about the many options cremation has to offer.

There are three things that every human on earth is guaranteed to experience. They are:

  • Being born
  • reathing
  • Dieing

We don’t mind talking about the first two but no one wants to talk about death. Oddly, death is the one (out of the three) that we have a little control over. We may not have control over how or when we die always but we do have control over what happens to our body afterwards. Most of us will be buried in the ground with a stone marking our time here on earth. Some will opt for a place in an above ground mausoleum. Today, increasing numbers are choosing cremation as a more economical option. Do you know what will happen to your ashes? Have you thought about it?

Personal Choice

Cremation has become a lucrative business and entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly creative with personalized options for containing or preserving the ashes produced by cremation. Throughout time, cremation remains were placed in a traditional urn. The urn would take its place on the mantel of a loved one of the deceased. Today, that tradition has changed. Not everyone has a mantel and, it’s not always easy to decide which family member will become the keeper of the urn. Today, we have many options that will meet the needs of every one involved. .

As we look at all the many options available after cremation, keep in mind that you are reading this so you’re still here. This is your chance to decide, to take control, of your final resting place. You can decide whether you want to be:

  • scattered to the wind
  • sprinkled in the ocean
  • stuck in a box
  • displayed in an expensive piece of marble
  • hung around your ex-husband’s (or wife’s) neck

You can even become a clock, sundial, wind chime or yes, a tree. It’s up to you. The possibilities are endless.

By Chad.eversole (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Chad.eversole (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Caskets

If you’re not concerned about money and have some to throw away, you can be cremated and still be buried in a casket. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but hey, to each his own. Spend it while you’ve got or to keep someone else from spending it for you. Funeral homes are dieing (no pun intended) to get your money so choose a nice one. Caskets come in every price range from a cardboard casket or pine box to an elaborately decorated solid bronze one. Pick your price range. A pine box will cost you a few hundred dollars but a solid bronze one could cost you $10,000. If money is really tight or you’re concerned about appearances, some funeral homes will rent you a casket for a reduced cost.

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Boxes

If you prefer a more traditional container, a cremation box should suffice. A wooden cremation box might be made of oak, cherry, mahogany, pine, or even bamboo. You might even choose a box made of mixed woods. Some are very decorative and some are plain. Today, boxes come in every shape and size. There are marble boxes, brass boxes, bio-degradable boxes, and for the frugal, cardboard boxes. If you’re one of the lucky ones who have celebrated decades in a loving relationship, there are also companion boxes that enable you to share your final resting place with your life-partner.

A box can be personalized to serve dual purposes. There are jewelry boxes, keepsake boxes, and even boxes with a chess board on the top. Who wouldn’t want a chess board of inlaid marble resting over their ashes?

A box can be adorned with a brass commerative plaque, a recessed clock, your photo, or even the symbol of whatever branch of the military you were affiliated with. If you’re willing to dream it, and can afford it, it can be a part of your final resting place. A box is viable alternative to a casket for most folks. The cost of a box will run you between $150-$1500

By danielgreef/Dan [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By danielgreef/Dan [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Urns

An urn is defined as “A large or decorative vase, especially one with an ornamental foot or pedestal” by Dictionary.com. Urns, like boxes, come in a wide array of shapes and can be made of wood, porcelain, marble, metal, or bio-degradable materials. Urns come in many sizes, shapes, and colors.

An urn can be chosen to compliment the décor in your home or you can select one that just appeals to your personal style. Many are so ornate that no one will know what's inside unless you want them to. Urns look lovely sitting on a table, a mantel, or even a bookshelf. .


Urns are available to meet every budget. You can keep it simple and spend less than $100 or shoot the moon and spend thousands. It's up to you.

Keepsake Jewelry

Pendants, lapel pins, rings, or earrings can all can keep your remains close to your loved one’s heart. Your cremated remains can even be turned into a beautiful stone that can be mounted in a ring, earrings, or a pendant. You choose the color and shape of the stone and the mounting too. Haven’t you dreamed of being a shiny diamond hanging around your daughter’s lovely neck or a ruby ring worn on your son’s hand? It’s possible. You can be whatever you want to be and the costs will vary. .

Trees

Yes, you read it right. I said "trees". I’ve saved the best for last. Did you know you can be repurposed and become a tree after you die? It’s true and, you get to pick the kind of tree you will become. Your ashes will be converted to a bio-degradable container that holds the sapling tree. Your loved ones can plant you and celebrate your life for years to come as your sapling grows into a mature part of nature.

Cremation as an alternative to burial

As an amateur genealogist, I have relied on grave markers for much of my research. I have surveyed cemeteries, collecting the names and dates on each and every stone. For years I cringed when I heard so many of my friends and family choosing cremation over burial. I thought of the loss of those grave markers as a resource for others who are documenting their family histories. Where would they turn to find the data I have been blessed to find lying quietly in some rural family cemetery?

While thinking about it, I suddenly realized that there are always alternatives. If you can rent a casket, you can also put a marker in a cemetery without putting a body beneath it. Public records are also becoming more readily available through the internet and coming soon to DMV offices across America is the availability of marriage and death certificates. Yes, we are living in a changing world and for everything we lose; it is just as likely that we are gaining new tools and options. We can resist the change or embrace it.


My Choice

I’ve always known that I didn’t want to be buried under a mound of dirt. I had planned to be cremated and had asked my family to scatter my ashes in my favorite place in the mountains here in Central Virginia. But now, with all the new options available to me, I have changed my mind. I don’t want to be in a box or an urn. I don’t want to hang around someone’s neck as a shiny stone. No, I have decided to be a tree; a weeping willow tree. And I hope that the day will come when someone will take solace in lying underneath my long flowing branches while dreaming dreams that seem impossible. I hope they will hear me whisper – “nothing is impossible”. I am the proof. I am a tree.

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  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

    When my time comes, I prefer cremation. This process is just easier on my kids all the way around. My son is marvelous with wood and will hand make my urn out of redwood. (I love trees.)

    Thanks for this information. Voted up, interesting and sharing.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi vocalcoach. Thanks for the visit and votes too. You have made it even more personal with your son being able to make your Redwood box. I love that. I see you are in California and the Redwood is a perfect choice for a California girl. Happy to share this moment with another lover of trees!

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Well done. I am so body donated my urn my just as well be a thimble;-)

    I will have to ask my wife and children about it tomorrow on Father's day. Thanks for bringing it to the front of my mind.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eric, a thimble? lol I'm an organ donor too so hopefully someone living will get most of me. Otherwise, I really don't care. I just really like the idea of becoming a tree.

    It's a conversation that is not easy for some and yet it is a very important one. I'm not sure I would do it on Father's Day though. That is a day to celebrate your life. Don't rob your wife and children of that chance to tell you how special you are. :-)

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I have to run this morning, Kindred, so no time for a long comment. I'll just say I've been there, done that, and your information, although not enjoyable, is important for all to consider.

    Have a wonderful weekend dear friend.

    bill

  • DrMark1961 profile image

    Dr Mark 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

    A friend of mine told me she would take my dogs and parrot, let my Tegus free and take my geese and other birds out to live on a farm. But my body? I couldn't care less. A pauper´s grave and a pine box sound fine.

    Interesting hub. Thanks.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

    I, too want to be cremated and like the tree idea. Until I heard of it, I wanted my ashes put in my back yard so I can fertilize the soil and grow something live. Being a tree fits right in with that mindset.

    I love that you want to become a weeping willow. They're graceful and dance at the slightest hint of a breeze. Nice choice, Linda!

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Being part of a tree sounds wonderful and I was thinking as you said weeping willow that you can break branches or pieces off them and poke them in the ground to grow so wouldn't it be wonderful to become a part of many trees? I may put in for a willow too. Thanks!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, no need for lengthy comments. It's enough just to know you're out there. :-)

    Dr Mark, Like you, I made arrangements for my animals long before I thought about myself. For many years I said the same, that I didn't care what happens to my body. Then, I learned that I could be a tree and that suited me just fine. lol

    Shauna, I am not surprised that you like the idea of a tree too. lol What tree would you like to be?

    Jackie - I love that you've already thought of how easy it is to propagate a willow. We could live forever, couldn't we? lol

    Thank you all for visit. You have made me feel quite normal with your comments. lol

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    MizBejabbers 2 years ago

    Linda my sweet friend, you come up with some very interesting subjects. Cremation ashes being made into a diamond or a ruby? I’d heard about wearing the ashes in a piece of jewelry, but not that. I just know that when I go, I don’t want to be worn around somebody’s neck. I’m glad you brought up the subject of leaving behind a record that can be traced. Recently at a DAR meeting we discussed the problems of tracing people who were cremated and had their ashes scattered all to kingdom come. It may not be a big problem now with our record keeping, but it is for us to trace some of our ancestors. And it gives most people a good feeling to go to a cemetery and read the gravestones of their ancestors.

    Our family is part of a community cemetery started before the Civil War. My cousin, who died way too young, chose cremation, and his father dug the hole by himself and buried the ashes in a cardboard box from the cremation company. My poor uncle broke down and cried as he buried his 35-year-old son beside the grave where he and my aunt were to rest. They had planned their funeral ahead of time and a headstone was already in place for them. They then put up a headstone for my cousin beside theirs. Someday the row in front of theirs will contain the body or the ashes of Mr. B. and me. Either way, we will fertilize the daffodils, jonquils and tulips that abound on the graves.

    I agree that if I were to have to live forever, I would want to be a tree, not this old broken body that I occupy now. I could be a home for beautiful little devas. I would like that. Voted up++

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Miz B, our shared interest in genealogy brought us together and here we are again, discussing our ancestry. I really am concerned about the loss of records that could result from increased cremation. I just don't think everyone thinks about that part of it. I love family cemeteries and yet I don't want to be buried. Like you, I know that I don't want to return for another round in a human body so a tree works nicely for me. Somehow I think that whatever you choose will become a home for some real special spirits. As for my interesting subjects, I'm not sure how to take that. lol My thoughts run rampant most of the time and I can tie almost any subject to an emotion. It's a curse sometimes. :-)

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    MizBejabbers 2 years ago

    Take it as a compliment, dear heart. I don't write my hubs on a certain theme either. I find them more interesting when someone delves into different subjects. Right now I'm juggling two subjects on which I plan to make return visits, but that is out of the norm for me.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks!

  • midget38 profile image

    Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

    Thanks for addressing the subject both practically and sensitively! I think I'd like my ashes scattered.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Midget38, it is a sensitive subject but what I like about cremation is how many choices there are. Thank you for reading this one.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

    I wrote a Hub about turning cremains into a tree! I'm all for it. I want to be a tree and grow over my hubby's grave.

    I'd like to link this Hub into mine if that's OK.

    Voted UP and shared.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Mary, feel free to link and if you don't mind, I'll link yours to this one too. Thanks for asking.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

    That would be great! I've already linked.

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