Funeral Homes: A End and a Beginning

All About Ashes: What To Expect After A Cremation

When a loved one is cremated, the ashes will be presented to you afterward. Just what happens next is entirely at your discretion. However, it can be helpful to know what to expect — both in terms of the nature of the ashes you will receive, as well as the best urn to hold them. 

Cremated Remains

After cremation, only remnants of the skeleton remain. These remnants are then broken down to form the ashes that will be given to you. The ashes are sometimes referred to as cremains, which is a portmanteau word (from a combination of cremated and remains). 

Temporary Storage Measure

As a temporary storage measure, the ashes are typically sealed inside a plastic bag and placed inside a box. If you have already purchased an urn for the ashes, the crematorium will place the ashes inside the urn for you. However, some families may opt to delay choosing an urn until after the cremation, as the ultimate fate of the ashes has not yet been decided. There's also the possibility that some urns will not be sufficient.

The Amount of Ashes

The average volume of cremated ashes is approximately 200 cubic inches. Should your loved one's cremation result in a larger volume of ashes (such as if they were particularly tall), then this might exceed the capacity of a standard urn. In this case, the crematorium would fill the provided urn, and any leftover remains would be sealed in a bag and placed inside a box. This is another reason why some families may delay choosing an urn until after the cremation.

Choosing an Urn

As mentioned, not knowing what you'll do with the ashes can also create some uncertainty about which type of urn you will need. For instance, if you plan to keep the ashes, then you will need a strong, ornamental urn of a suitable size. If the ashes are to be scattered, you might ask for them to be placed inside a special scattering tube, designed specifically for this purpose. Alternatively, should the ashes need to be transported elsewhere in the country (or internationally), then the ashes should be provided in a lightweight, yet durable plastic transport urn

To bury the ashes, you will either need a biodegradable urn or to purchase a small concrete burial vault to keep the urn intact after burial.

No immediate plans need to be made for a loved one's cremated ashes, and choosing an urn can be delayed until you know what you wish to do with the ashes. To learn more, contact a cremation service.