If you're searching on the internet for an urn, chances are that you will see products with all sorts of descriptions that will make you wonder if you're searching for the right thing. Terms like:
Urns for ashes
The simple answer is that all of these terms are describing the same sort of product: a container, whether it is a box or vase, whether it is made from wood, ceramic clay, bronze, porcelain, stone, marble, etc., intended to hold the cremated remains (the official term is "cremains") of a deceased individual.
In other words, all those terms mean "urn".
At Urns Northwest, we use many of these terms to describe our urns not to confuse, but to help you find what you're looking for. If you search for "funeral urns", we'll try to use that phrase in our description of our "cremation urns" to let you know that you're on the right track, even though we use a different name to describe the urns. If you search for an "urn box", we want you to know that the "funeral urn" you're looking at is the same thing.
If you have any questions about the details of our urns, please don't hesitate to contact us, and we'll do our best to answer your questions via phone or email and help you find what you're looking for.
When a loved one dies, you suddenly find yourself making all sorts of difficult decisions about things you've never given a thought to - cremation or burial? Bury the urn or display it at home? If you bury, do you need an urn vault? What is an urn vault? Is it the same as a mausoleum niche?
All these endless options, new terms, and sales pitches can be very confusing, so we've put together what we hope will be a helpful glossary of cremation terms. The list below is slightly expanded from the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau's Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases, which can be found here.
Casket/Coffin - A box or chest for burying human remains.
Cemetery Property - A grave, crypt, or niche.
Cemetery Services - Opening and closing graves, crypts, or niches; setting grave liners and vaults; setting markers; and long-term maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities.
Columbarium - A structure with niches (small spaces) for placement of cremated remains in urns or other approved containers. It may be outdoors or part of a mausoleum.
Cremains - The resulting bone fragments - 'cremated remains' - resulting from the cremation process.
Cremation - Exposing human remains and the container holding them to extreme heat and flame and processing the resulting bone fragments to a uniform size and consistency.
Crypt - A space in a mausoleum or other building to hold cremated or whole human remains.
Disposition - The placement of cremated or whole human remains in their final resting place. A Permit for Disposition must be filed with the local registrar before disposition can take place.
Endowment Care Fund - Money collected from cemetery property purchasers and placed in trust for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. The State monitors the fund and establishes the minimum amount that must be collected. However, the cemetery is permitted to collect more than the minimum to build the fund. Only the interest earned by such funds may be used for the care, maintenance, and embellishment of the cemetery.
Entombment - Burial in a mausoleum.
Funeral Ceremony - A service commemorating the deceased with the body present.
Funeral Services - Services provided by a funeral director and staff, which may include consulting with the family on funeral planning; transportation, shelter, refrigeration, and embalming of remains; preparing and filing notices; obtaining authorizations and permits; and coordinating with the cemetery, crematory, or other third parties.
Funeral Society - See Memorial Society, below.
Grave - A space in the ground in a cemetery for the burial of human remains.
Grave Liner or Outer Container - A concrete cover that fits over a casket in a grave. Some liners cover tops and sides of the casket. Other liners (vaults, see below) completely enclose the casket. Grave liners minimize ground settling on the cemetery grounds.
Graveside Service - A service to commemorate the deceased held at the cemetery prior to burial.
Interment - Burial in the ground, inurnment, or entombment.
Inurnment - The placing of cremated remains in an urn.
Mausoleum - A building in which human remains are buried (entombed).
Memorial Service - A ceremony commemorating the deceased without the body present.
Memorial Society - A consumer organization that provides information about funerals and disposition but is not part of the State-regulated funeral industry. May also be called a funeral consumer alliance.
Niche - A space in a columbarium, mausoleum, or niche wall to hold an urn.
Urn - A container to hold cremated human remains. It can be placed in a columbarium or mausoleum, or it can be buried in the ground.
Urn Vault - A grave liner that completely encloses an urn.
Vault - A grave liner that completely encloses a casket.
Water Disposition - The scattering of cremated human remains into the sea. A Permit for Disposition must be filed with the local registrar before disposition can take place.
Cremation Urn Types and Varieties
Adult Urn - A container which holds the cremated remains of one adult, typically sized at the industry standard of 200 cubic inches or larger. Also known as a standard sized urn.
Child Urn - A container which holds the cremated remains of a child or infant. Usually synonymous with infant urn. Sizes vary, but are normally smaller than 100 cubic inches.
Companion Urn - A container which holds the cremated remains of two adults, typically sized at the industry standard of 400 cubic inches or larger.
Infant Urn - A container which holds the cremated remains of an infant. Often synonymous with child urn. Sizes vary, but are normally smaller than 100 cubic inches.
Keepsake Urn - A container meant to hold a small amount of cremains, ranging from as little as 1 cubic inch on up. Keepsake urns are used in a variety of ways: as a way to divide the remains among family members; as a keepsake memorial for when the ashes are scattered, buried, or deposited in a niche; to keep at one's bedside when the standard-sized urn is kept on the fireplace mantle.
Pet Urn - A container which holds the cremated remains of an animal. Sizes vary depending on the animal for which the urn is intended.
Scattering Urn - A container that is either biodegradable for water disposition or with an easy-opening top or bottom for casting the remains out into nature.
Standard Urn - An adult urn (see above).
Temporary Urn - The container which holds the cremated remains when returned to the relatives of deceased by the crematorium. Usually a cheap but sturdy plastic or cardboard material, the cremains are held in a durable plastic bag within the temporary urn until buried or transferred to a permanent urn. At Urns Northwest, we carry a variety of wood urns that will hold many common temporary urns, and we would be happy to customize an urn to fit the temporary urn, should you so desire.