The winter holidays are tough to face when a loved one is no longer around to share in the festivities. Dealing with a cremation urn is often the last thing someone wants to deal with, especially when they're already burdened with grief, funeral arrangements, expectations from family and friends, finances, and now the holiday season.
Since we're in the business of selling cremation urns, we end up talking on the phone or via email with many people in all stages of grief, and have learned a few things along the way. Here are some various thoughts on Cremation Urns and Christmas, for both those who have lost a loved one, and those who want to help.
If you've recently lost a loved one...
1. Take the time to get the right cremation urn
In our experience, you'll be much more satisfied with the right urn than the one you can get in a hurry. If you want something nice for the memorial service, rent an urn from the funeral home.
We understand that you may not want your loved one's remains sitting in a cardboard box, but at the same time if you're experiencing loads of holiday stress, it's ok to take an extra couple days or so to get the right memorial.
2. Take care of yourself
Take a walk; enjoy the outdoors
You've probably had many people say this to you already. " Take care of yourself, dear." People who have been down this road before you will tell you this because it is important. They know how easy it is to neglect caring for yourself, that by doing so you make it harder on yourself to work through your grief, and that ultimately you'll end up worse off because of it.
So take the time and allow yourself the freedom to take care of yourself. Get help working through your emotional response to the death of a loved one with a local grief counselor or support group, or even a close friend or pastor. Spend time with a longtime hobby, or learn a new one. Go jogging. Get outdoors. Go see a movie. Go shopping. Spend an afternoon reading a light novel at a coffee shop.
While it's often a good thing to get out and about, don't overdo it. Don't stress out about Christmas shopping; your loved ones will understand if you get them gift cards instead. Perhaps you find relief in scrapbooking all the memorial service photos and "Special Memory of You" cards, but allow yourself the freedom to save that project for later if it's too much right now.
What does this have to do with cremation urns? Well, if part of taking care of yourself is avoiding the stress of buying an urn, allow yourself the freedom to do it later. On the other hand, maybe you will find relief and joy in finding a beautiful memorial to give your loved one a resting place. If that is the case, take care of yourself by making the process of choosing an urn a priority.
Or perhaps you love getting Christmas gifts for family and friends, but can't afford both the gifts and the urn. The urn can wait - enjoy this season of gift giving. Here are some great Christmas gift ideas for men and for women, and here is our own list of holiday memorial gift ideas, which is useful if you'd like to incorporate a memorial tribute into your holiday giving.
Then again, there is the other hand - maybe it would be best for you to take care of the cremation urn and set your loved one to rest. If doing so means that you can't afford gifts for the rest of the family, remember that it's ok. Your family will understand, and support you in that. You could also consider giving simple DIY gifts, which can be much more affordable. Here is a great list of simple DIY holiday gift ideas.
If you're someone who wants to help...
1. Offer to buy the cremation urn as your gift
Funerals are very expensive; add in the holiday season and the finances for most people will be pretty tight. One simple and meaningful way you can help is by using the Christmas gift-giving season as an excuse to buy the cremation urn for the family. Find out what type of memorial they would prefer, ask them about personalization (how they’d like an inscription to read), and tell them you’d like to order it for them or pay for it as a Christmas gift.
Unless you know with complete certainty that the family wants a specific urn but can’t afford it (or are waiting until “after the holidays” to order), it’s probably not a good idea to get them an urn as a surprise gift. Dealing with urns and money can be a volitile combination of two emotional topics, so it’s best to approach this idea openly and with the family’s best interests in mind - even if that means changing up your own plans. We advise that you offer to buy the urn as your gift, rather than attempting a surprise.
2. Give a gift card
An easy way to help with the purchase of the urn is by getting a pre-paid credit card as a gift. This way they can choose to spend the funds as they see fit, whether it's ordering the urn, getting gifts, or simply paying bills.
3. Give keepsakes
Some families and individuals will want to pay for the urn themselves as a matter of showing their own love for the departed loved one. If you're still looking for a way to contribute to the memorial, consider getting matching keepsake urns or a memorial tribute gift for family members.
Final tips for everyone
- Keep up traditions. Traditions play an important role in everyone's lives, especially so around the holidays. Keep those traditions going.
- Share stories. Retell your favorite stories involving the departed loved one - Christmas memories, funny mishaps, kind deeds. Sharing stories helps with grief and keeps their memories alive.
- Celebrate what you can. Remember the good; give gifts; receive gifts with gratitude; find solace in faith; celebrate the story of Christmas and the triumph of light over darkness.
- Work through what you can't celebrate. Some memories will be difficult or painful; everyone grieves in their own way; don't be ashamed to seek out a good grief counselor who will help you work through this difficult time of great loss.
- Take care of each other. Love is patient and kind, so be thoughtful about how you express your love for one another in addition to the way you express your love through grief.