Planning a funeral is one of those events that everyone will do at least once in their lives, whether it’s pre-planning their own service or taking care of arrangements for a loved one. However, planning a cremation is not something everyone has done before, and it may seem daunting and confusing at first. The following is a quick guide that outlines what you need to do and consider when making arrangements for your loved one.
- Assemble important paperwork: Even before contacting a funeral home for guidance, you need to have all the necessary legal and financial documents including birth and marriage certificates, military records, insurance policies, bank statements, Social Security and veteran’s information, will or trust, Power of Attorney and estate papers.
- Determine your budget: Sit down and figure out how much you have to spend on the cremation from the type of urn or container you want to whether you will have a funeral or memorial service. This part is difficult for some, but it’s important to review all your resources. This will determine the type of service and cremation you have.
- Research costs: While different arrangements will range in price, It’s safe to say that the average funeral cost with a cremation is about $4,000 or more. Overall, cremation costs are less than a traditional funeral and ground burial.
- Speak with a funeral expert: Cremation could be a complex process and it is normal to not know where to start. Talk with a professional about cremation to better understand what your options are and create a personalized plan that fits your budget. Ask about the cost, as well as the time frame.
2. Selecting an Urn or Other Burial Container
One of the most important aspects of planning a cremation is selecting a cremation urn. Picking out the perfect urn for a loved one’s cremated remains can be as difficult as they come in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials, and finding the right one can take a little time.
But you don’t need to rush the selection process. A crematory typically places the cremains in a temporary container until a permanent placement is found. Because choosing a cremation urn is a deeply personal task, it is a decision that should not be made in haste.
Cremation urns can be purchased at many locations depending on your budget and needs. Those in a hurry can buy them directly through a crematory, local casket store, funeral home, or memorial society.
3. Selecting a Size
Just like caskets, one size does not fit all. Most funeral directors typically follow this simple rule: One pound of body weight equals about one cubic inch of urn space. For instance, a 175-pound man would need an urn that is about 175 cubic inches (there many a little extra space in it, but that’s fine too). Four popular sizes of cremation urns are:
- Individual urns: This is the most common urn size that is typically between 200 and 300 cubic inches. The average size of a typical cremains is less than 200 cubic inches.
- Companion: An urn for two people is about 400 to 500 cubic inches. These are the largest urns available and are sometimes purchased for larger-sized individuals. Companion urns come with single or double compartments to either mix two persons’ ashes or keep them separate.
- Infant or youth: These range in size from about 15 to 70 cubic inches.
- Partial or keepsake: These are very small urns that can hold a few teaspoons of ashes up to 100 cubic inches. This is commonly used by families who want to “share” the cremains with several individuals.
Planning out a cremation during a time of loss can be stressful. While you’ll want to be prepared, also remember you have time to figure out the small details such as selecting the best cremation urn. Shift your focus to more timely matters such as understanding the process and having your legalities straightened out first. If need be, have a close friend or family member help you decide what is best.