What Do You Do With the Urn After You Scatter the Ashes?

Question: What do you do with the urn after you spread or scatter the ashes?

Answer: You can toss, bury, burn, donate, upcycle, or reuse it. The value you place on the urn will often determine what you do with it after the ashes are scattered.

Read on for more information.

Sometimes, Cremation Urns Get Empty

For scattering, most families simply go with the simple cardboard or plastic container provided by the funeral home. It's simple, affordable, and relatively fuss-free.

You can also pick out a decorative scattering urn designed to make scattering the ashes as simple and easy as possible.

Most of those scattering urns are biodegradable so you would leave it in the ocean, bury it nearby, or simply toss it when done.

However, sometimes the remains are in a cremation urn for years before the family scatters the ashes.

Often this is due to the difficulty of arranging the right time and place for everyone to gather for a scattering ceremony. Other times a husband and wife will want their remains scattered at the same time, and one precedes the other in death by many years.

In these cases, the family will often get a nice, good quality cremation urn to hold the ashes until the proper time. This is an urn that isn't meant to biodegrade, and it's not a simple plastic box that your conscience will permit you to simply toss out.

In that case, what do you do with the nice, expensive urn after scattering?

What To Do With a Used Cremation Urn

There are several ways to use an old or empty cremation urn.

1. Reuse

First, you can reuse the urn.

Yes, it might sound weird, but it’s something you can do. No sense buying an urn multiple times when it’s only used for a year every decade or so!

The urn can become a family heirloom, to be used throughout the generations. Some people might find that bizarre, others might think it is a wonderful idea.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle, right?

2. Give/Donate

Second, you can give away the urn.

Ask a local funeral home or church if they could use it for a family in financial need.

List the urn for free on Craigslist or another local online marketplace. Someone will appreciate a free urn!

Be sure and explain that it is used, and exactly how so. For instance, if it held the remains in a plastic bag the entire time, others might want to use it.

But if you put the ashes directly into the urn so that the remains came in contact with it... that's a different story. Some people might be comfortable with that while others won’t be.

Just be honest and up front.

3. Use for Keepsakes

Third, you can keep the urn as a keepsake box.

Fill the urn with letters, keepsakes, photos, jewelry, and other special momentos.

Your children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren may someday appreciate going through all these artifacts!

4. Repurpose/Upcycle

Fourth, you can repurpose the urn in other ways.

If it’s a top-opening or vase-shaped urn, use it to hold flowers (fresh, dried, or fake).

For stone urns, put it in the garden as a memorial stone or monument. Gardeners also might be able to find a use for the urn as a gardening pot.

If you have a quirky sense of humor, use it to hold loose change or even as a candy jar.

Urns can also be used to hold seashells, rocks, and other small collectibles.

5. Toss

Finally, you can dispose of the urn.

Bury it, burn it, break it down, or toss it into the bin.

If you need to find a way to get rid of the urn, and none of the previous options feel right, you probably are trying to think of ways to get rid of it.

Maybe you don’t feel right simply tossing it into the garbage (that somehow feels disrespectful, doesn’t it?). If so, consider burying it or holding a little burning ceremony.

Or respectfully wrap the urn in a cloth, place it into a plastic bag and tape it up, and ceremoniously place it into the trash receptacle.

If the urn is something you truly don’t need or want, don’t feel obligated to keep it. You can toss it. The important thing is to treasure the memories and the love you shared.

Ready to Find the Perfect Urn?

If you already have the urn, well, you're done! We hope this article answered your question about what to do with a used cremation urn.

But if you've been researching in advance, it's probably time now to find the right urn for your loved one's ashes.

At Urns Northwest, we have a broad selection of beautiful memorial urns. Start shopping all urns here, or, if you're looking for an urn specifically designed for scattering, check out our collection of scattering urns.

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us.