Saturday, March 15, 2014

What Does a Cremation Urn Have to Do With Life?

What Does a Cremation Urn Have to Do With Life?

It's a curious question.  A funeral urn's purpose is to contain the ashes of a person who has passed through death, right?  And to act as a focus during their funeral service, much like a casket will do at the front of the chapel, when burial is chosen.  So what does an urn have to do with life? 
Art Glass Cremation Urn

Because so many families choose to keep the urn in their home, the selection of the vessel has much to do with the quality of their life as they go forward after losing someone they love. It will continue to act as a focus for their loving memories, and also somewhat as a presence of their loved one's spirit as they progress through grief.  Most families will try to find an urn that reflects their loved one's style and personality, one that lets them assure themselves with the conviction that "She/he would have liked this one".

Keepsake Urn Memorials
A full sized urn may be too imposing for some to live with on a day to day basis. A smaller keepsake urn can also act as an avatar for the deceased. In cases where the family wishes to divide the ashes among family members, a small memorial keepsake can provide this focus. A small urn memorial can enable a tactile way of holding the loved one in your hands at times of deep grief or simply for experiencing loving memories. Often, families will choose to scatter the ashes in a scattering ceremony, which can be a very intimate act that is meaningful because it involves only the immediate family and perhaps the very closest of friends, each of whom might wish to say a few very personal words. When scattering, they may wish to keep just a small portion of the ashes in a keepsake urn memorial, or in a cremation jewelry pendant.  

But more on life. There is an increasing number of people who are pre-planning their own funerals.  We like to make a statement, and recording our final wishes often will include our desire that friends and family celebrate life, rather than mourn death.  Some of us even provide a playlist of the music that has been meaningful to our life. Boomers have always liked a good party, and many are making statements with their final fete - even with a simple request such as holding their life celebration at a location like their ski lodge, golf course, bowling alley, or some in their most sacred place, such as their garden.

Pre-planning can have a wonderful effect on one's life, enhancing mindfulness about how precious every day is, and that our time on earth is limited, each of us with a mystery expiry date. None of us knows how long we'll be here, and appreciating the time we have, in the present moment, is a life-affirming act.  I know one very astute lovely elderly lady who has bought her cremation urn well in advance, so she can enjoy it as a flower vase until it is needed as an urn for her ashes.

I have put a free, printable work-sheet on my web site, called Funeral Planning 101, so that anyone who wants to express their final wishes can easily do so.  Simply print out the work-sheet, fill in the blanks, and put it with your Will or any other documents you may want to provide for easing the burden of your loved ones' decision making at the time of your passing.

As my Grampa often said, "No one gets out alive."  He used to say this with a twinkle in his eye, a scotch in his hand, and a wry smile that bespoke his knowledge of the subject - he was a doctor, and a person who lived a good, long and very full life with a great sense of humor.  And a finely tuned appreciation for life.

Barbara Bergen is a designer who collaborates with top artists to create beautiful cremation urns and keepsakes.  This collection of artworks may be seen in her web store, Cremation Urns by Legacy.