Funeral Planning Complete Guide 2023: Everything You Need To Consider

Dealing with families face to face on a daily basis, it’s easy to say that funeral planning is not easy.

It’s an emotional topic that most of us try to avoid and there’s tough decisions to make.

But I can assure you, it’s better to plan ahead than leave things to the last minute.

Whatever your situation, this funeral planning guide is going to help you decide on everything important.

I’ll go through the planning process from start to finish, and give you my honest advice for every possible decision.

What To Do When Someone Dies

Check off the items on this list before you do anything else.

  • Contact friends and family

  • Organize transportation of the body

  • Notify the deceased person’s employer

  • Figure out what funds are available to pay for the funeral

  • Delete any online accounts

For additional steps, check out this  planning checklist

Funeral Checklist

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about planning a funeral, this helpful funeral checklist is a good place to start.

It outlines everything that needs to be done, including choosing a funeral home, deciding on the right casket or cremation container, and purchasing a grave marker.

Funeral Costs

As you embark on the daunting task of planning a funeral, it’s important to have a clear picture of funeral costs.

This will help you figure out how you’re going to pay for the funeral.

You can count on the following costs for most funerals. We have broken them down for you in two different ways.

Breakdown of Average Costs

The average cost of a funeral is between $7000 and $12,000.

This wide range of prices is influenced by the region where you live and by the services and products that you choose.

Traditional burial combined with a funeral service usually costs about $15,000. If you choose an informal memorial service instead, it will run you around $10,000.

Cremation with a traditional funeral service typically costs between $10,000 and $12,000. With a memorial service, this will cost between $8000 and $10,000. And direct cremation (with no service at all) typically costs about $2000.

Breakdown of Expenses

You may be wondering why funerals are so expensive?

The large expense of a funeral or memorial service is broken down into smaller expenses that really add up.

Professional service fee

This is a non-declinable fee charged by most funeral homes for using their services.

The fee covers basic services like securing copies of the death certificate, getting necessary permits, and housing the remains.

The typical cost of this fee ranges between $2000 and $2500.

The casket

Caskets come in a wide variety of materials and a wide variety or prices.

Exercise caution when purchasing a casket from the funeral home. They tend to push the pricier selections by listing them prominently.

The average cost of a casket is $2300.


Embalming usually costs between $500 and $700. Depending on how long the body needs to be stored before cremation or burial, embalming may not be necessary. Refrigeration can be a cost-effective alternative.

You also might opt out of embalming if you’re not planning a visitation/viewing.

Service facility hire

Generally, you can expect to pay about $500 for the cost of using the funeral home facility and staff for a funeral service.

An additional $425 can be added if you are planning a viewing.

Cremation Costs

By choosing cremation over burial, you have already significantly reduced your costs.

Ultimately, this will depend on where you live and what kinds of services you choose.

The most expensive cities

Expect your cremation costs to be substantial if you live in any of these expensive cities.

In Indianapolis, PA you can expect to pay between $900 and $6100 and even more if you live in Dallas, TX, Houston, TX or Washington D.C.

The most expensive city in the U.S. for cremation is New York City, with average costs between $550 and $10,200.

Direct cremation

If you’re on a tight budget, direct cremation (or low-cost cremation, as it’s sometimes called) is the most economical option.

This is a simple cremation with no funeral or memorial service.

It eliminates many major funeral costs, especially those associated with burial and/or embalming.

Burial Costs

Burial brings with it many additional costs. For one thing, simply purchasing a plot at the cemetery will cost you between $1000 and $4000.

Additionally, there is the cost of the burial vault ($1395) and the headstone (around $1500).

These are in addition to any costs incurred by the funeral or memorial service.

Tips To Have An Affordable Funeral

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of these costs, don’t worry.

There are some clever workarounds that can help you pay less for a funeral.

Here are a few of them.

Shop Around

The funeral home is required to give you a price list for all their services. Rather than blindly accept their prices, take this opportunity to shop around for better prices elsewhere.

This allows you to meet the staff at other funeral homes and find out if they might be a good fit.

Avoid Upsells

Be aware of mark-ups that the funeral home places on many of their goods and services.

Make sure you do some research about the average price on things like caskets and urns and create a budget before meeting with funeral home staff.

This way, you can make educated choices instead of being swayed by emotion.

Choose Direct Cremation Over Burial

This is by far the most affordable option for disposing of remains.

Afterwards, you keep the ashes, which you may choose to scatter, bury or keep with you on display in a nice urn.

To maximize your savings, avoid any trendy upsells and just keep it simple.

Buy a Casket Online

You will find a much better variety of caskets online (and with a better variety of prices) than you ever will at the funeral home.

You can find the best price on a simple casket or a more ornate one. You can even purchase a kit to build one yourself.

Another saver: choose to rent a casket instead of buying one if you’re planning a cremation.

Have the Service At Home

Home burial is an increasingly popular trend.

Besides making the service more intimate and personal, it’s also a huge moneysaver, allowing you to completely eliminate any costs associated with the funeral home.

You might look into hiring a “death coach” or a “death midwife” to assist you through this process.

Paying For a Funeral

Now you know how much a funeral actually costs. But you still don’t know how you’re going to pay for it.

There are a number of options for funding a funeral. Here are just a few.

Bank Account

A bank account can be set up ahead of time for the purpose of paying funeral costs.

This gives you some control over your money, shielding it from funeral homes who are not obligated to use the money in exactly the way you want.

There are different types of bank accounts that you can use for this.

Savings account

You and your loved one can share a joint bank account, making funds immediately available to you after his/her death.

All you have to do is remember to make deposits in it from time to time to ensure that there will be enough.

Payable on death account

Your bank can help you set up a “Payable On Death” account, which becomes available to your beneficiary at the time of death.

The beneficiary could be a loved one. In some cases, you might choose the funeral home as the beneficiary.

Funeral Plans

A pre-paid funeral plan can be a great solution to the problem of funding a funeral.

However, these are not right for everyone. It depends on your circumstance.

How it works

When you make a funeral plan, you arrange and pay for all services ahead of time, freeing your family of this painful responsibility at a sad time.

Benefits and disadvantages

There are many awesome perks to creating a funeral plan. They give you control over every detail of your funeral service, right down to the songs that are sung.

It can also greatly ease your family’s grief, as they have the huge burden of funeral planning taken off their plates.

The downsides

However, there are some disadvantages, too. Funeral plans don’t give you much protection against the predatory practices of some funeral homes. They also tie up your assets so you can’t use them in an emergency.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is a financial strategy that allows you to plan for the future of your loved ones you pass.

It’s helpful not just for funeral expenses, but to replace lost income or provide an inheritance.

For all these reasons, life insurance can provide security and comfort to your loved ones who are left behind.

Benefits of life insurance

There are many perks to choosing life insurance as a way to fund funeral costs. Here are a few of them.

Cover funeral expenses

Life insurance can pay for funeral and cremation costs. It can also be used towards medical bills and other unpaid obligations.

Pay off existing debts

If you left behind any obligations, such as college tuition or a mortgage, life insurance can be used to help with these. It can also be used for credit card debt or a car loan.

Make sure dependents are protected

By naming a chosen beneficiary to your life insurance plan, you can ensure that they receive a death benefit as an inheritance.

Tax incentives

Some of your life insurance can be used to offset the cost of an estate tax which your beneficiaries might have to pay if they receive an inheritance. Speak with your insurance agent or financial planner to really understand how these taxes might affect your loved ones.

Burial Insurance

Burial Insurance is a form of whole-life insurance which pays out to your family members after your death.

It’s much easier to purchase than life insurance because it usually doesn’t require you to answer any questions about your health.

Premiums remain locked in, and the insurance won’t expire as you age (unlike other kinds of life insurance).

If you’re interested, here’s some of the best whole insurance policies.

Cremation Insurance

Like burial insurance, cremation insurance pays out as a whole term life insurance policy at the time of your death.

You don’t have to take a medical exam but are guaranteed acceptance even if you are in poor health.

Despite its name, cremation insurance can be used for other things besides cremation. There are no restrictions on how the money can be used.

Final Expense Insurance

Final expense insurance is a permanent life insurance policy with a cash value that remains the same throughout your lifetime.

It’s easy to get and usually more affordable than traditional life insurance.

However, the average coverage is typically between $25,000-$30,000 which is less than other kinds of life insurance.

Term Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance is the most popular form of life insurance on the market.

It’s very affordable and remains valid for a number of years.

If you die before the term is up, your family is entitled to a full tax-free lump sum payment.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole Life Insurance lasts for your entire lifetime. It does not expire at the end of a fixed period, as with term life insurance.

The balance of your whole life insurance will accrue value over time. You can even use it while you’re still alive.

Funeral Loans

If you’re really stuck funding a funeral without any money, funeral loans are definitely a viable solution.

Provided you qualify, they are an easy and quick way to secure funding.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

How it works

You can take out a loan to pay for a funeral just as you would when paying for a car or a home.

As with any personal loans, you are responsible for repayment. The lender works with you to establish repayment terms.


The biggest advantage of a funeral loan is that it’s quick. Typically, you can access the needed funds within 1-2 days of applying.

Also, repayment terms are flexible, based on your individual financial situation.

And unlike other kinds of loans, there is no collateral. It is solely based on your ability to pay.


One big caveat regarding funeral loans: the interest may be very high.

That’s because there is no collateral, so often lenders need to charge high interest in order to get a good return on their investment.

This is especially true if your credit is less-than-pristine; if you are more of a risk, that will mean paying more interest.

Funeral Assistance

In some situations, you may find yourself facing the need to pay for a funeral without any money at all.

No doubt about it: this is a difficult situation to be in, for many reasons.

However, there are some types of funeral assistance available in these situations.


A number of charities and non-profits have been formed for the express purpose of helping those in need to pay for funerals.

Some that are worth checking out:

  • Funeral Consumers’ Alliance provides counselling on how to plan a funeral affordably.

  • Final Farewell provides financial assistance and advice to bereaved parents.

  • Children’s Burial Assistance donates caskets and burial plots to the parents of deceased children.

  • Your local church can often help minimize costs by planning funeral services for members.

Government assistance

Depending on where you live, there may be assistance at the state or local level for funerals.

Some states, like Maine, provide General Assistance for cremation or burial. In other states, you may have to meet certain income guidelines.

FEMA also provides some funeral assistance to victims of national disasters, like floods or hurricanes. Whether your loved one was a direct or indirect victim of the disaster, FEMA can help by covering the cost of a casket or urn as well as essential mortuary services.

Social Security

Social Security Administration provides some assistance when you face the death of a loved one.

Direct family members may be entitled to a $225 lump sum payment when their loved one dies.

Additionally, some family members may be eligible for monthly survivors’ benefits.

Spouses are eligible based on the number of years that they were married. And children can claim survivors’ benefits until they are 18 years of age or finish high school.

However, these benefits only apply if the deceased person accrued Social Security benefits during their life.


This is a government-sponsored program which provides insurance to those who can’t afford it and, in some cases, helps cover funeral expenses.

The amount of assistance you can access depends, in large part, on where you live.

Each state has its own rules, and these rules frequently change with changing leadership.

Veteran Benefits

If your loved one was a military veteran, he or she is entitled to certain benefits.

For one thing, you get Military Funeral Honors (having Taps played and a folded flag given to your next-of-kin) at no extra charge.

For a service-related death, you can access funeral assistance of up to $2000.

For non-service-related deaths, you can get up to $780 coverage of funeral costs.

Cremation Planning

There are many reasons you might choose cremation over traditional burial.

Certainly affordability is one of them. You also might like the idea of having your loved one’s remains close to you, instead of having to visit a cemetery.

The Cremation Process

Before deciding on cremation, you may be curious as to know what exactly happens to your loved one’s body during the cremation process.

Here is a breakdown of all the steps.

Transportation to crematorium

Your loved one’s body will be taken to a funeral home or crematorium.

There is lots of paperwork to do before cremation can begin. Additionally, steps must be taken to ensure the identity of the deceased person.

As soon as all of this is complete, the body is prepared for cremation.

Preparation of the body

All jewelry must be removed from the body before cremation, as well as anything else that cannot be cremated.

Pacemakers must be removed because they can explode when subjected to high heat.

Radioactive therapeutic implants also have to be removed due to environmental concerns.

The body is then placed in an alternative casket or wrapped in a shroud.

The cremation

Next the cremation chamber must be heated to a temperature of 2000℉.

Once it reaches this temperature, the body is moved into the chamber, either automatically or manually.

It takes about two hours in this chamber to reduce the body to bones and ashes.

The ashes are then cooled for about 30 minutes.

Collecting the ashes

The ashes will then be carefully examined for any type of metal, such as screws or pins from surgical procedures.

After that, they are placed in a special kind of grinder called a cremulator which pulverizes the remains until they are the consistency of sand.

Finally, the ashes are placed in a temporary container and given to the family.


If you know you’re choosing cremation ahead of time, pre-planning can make everything much easier on those who are left behind.

Here are all the things that you’ll want to consider.

Choosing a Type of Service

It’s important to understand ahead of time what you want for a service.

Do you want a traditional funeral with a viewing in a funeral home or place of worship?

You can still hold an event like this before cremation takes place. Or you might want a memorial service…or even no service at all.

Deciding On a Viewing Or Not

A viewing can help your loved ones say goodbye and find a sense of closure.

It can also entail a lot of extra expense: renting a facility, buying or renting a casket and possibly embalming.

Decision whether to embalm

Embalming is expensive and not always necessary.

If you are planning a memorial service or a direct cremation, you can forgo embalming.

However, it may be necessary if burial or cremation is not immediate.

Refrigeration can be an affordable alternative to embalming.

Memorial Service After Cremation

This type of memorial service allows you to skip out on many of the costs of a traditional funeral.

With no remains present, the focus is on remembering the loved one through shared memories, songs and readings.

Cremation Providers

The next step in planning your cremation ceremony is choosing the right cremation provider.

This task can feel overwhelming. However, we have put together handy guidebooks and reviews of cremation providers for individual states. Feel free to check these out to assist you in your search.


California has one of the highest rates of cremation in the country.

The good news: this means more variety in terms of cremation providers.

There is also a great variety of creative things to do with your loved one’s ashes, including a burial at sea or a scattering from the air.

In this Cremation California Guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about funeral planning in California.

New York

Due to the high cost of living (and by extension- the high cost of dying), cremation is becoming increasingly popular in New York.

That means plenty of choices when it comes to finding a cremation provider.

We have published a useful guide about cremation providers in New York. It covers the bustling boroughs of the city as well as the far-flung reaches of places like Albany and Buffalo.


Texas is the second most populous state in the U.S., with many cremation providers spread out over a large geographical area.

With this guide to cremation providers in Texas, you can locate quality services convenient to where you live.


With a vast array of cremation providers and many complicated laws, Florida can be a confusing place to plan a cremation.

We have published a cremation planning Florida guide to simplify this process.

We’ve identified the best cremation providers in the Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami and Orlando areas.

Burial Planning

Like cremation planning, a pre-paid burial plan relieves your loved ones of the emotional and financial burden of making plans after your passing.

It’s a kind and loving gesture to your family, freeing them to focus on the memories you shared, rather than the overwhelming tasks associated with death.

Choosing a Burial Plan

One of the first decisions to make is what kind of burial you want.

There are several different kinds from which to choose. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your loved ones so that they understand the options and can agree with your choice.

Below ground

This is the most traditional choice in which a casket is buried below ground and marked with a headstone or grave marker.

This type of burial is usually accompanied by a traditional funeral service.

If you prefer a traditional memorial and want to be buried near loved ones in a cemetery, this may be the right choice for you.

Above ground in a mausoleum

A mausoleum is a building above ground designed to hold the remains of multiple people.

It may be that your family already has a private mausoleum. This is a great option because it allows complete privacy and lets you personalize the burial space as you want.

If you don’t have a private family mausoleum, a community mausoleum is another good choice. Though it’s more public, it still offers the advantages of a dry site to visit even in bad weather.

Above ground in a crypt

Like mausoleums, a lawn crypt offers a dry comfortable place for loved ones to visit in any kind of weather. People are able to leave flowers or other mementoes there.

It’s a good choice for two people who want to be memorialized together in the same space.

Scattering gardens

Cremation scattering gardens are designed specifically as beautiful and comforting spaces in which to scatter a loved one’s ashes.

The ashes serve as natural fertilizer for the plants and flowers that grow there.

Seating areas are provided for reflecting on your memories of the deceased person.

Some people prefer this natural setting over the more traditional memorials in a cemetery.

Green burial

Finally, green burials (also known as natural burials) are becoming more popular as an environmentally friendly burial choice.

In this type of burial, there is no casket, embalming fluid or burial vault. Instead, remains are placed directly into the earth to decompose.

Simple and sustainable, this is the ideal choice if you are concerned about the environmental impact of burial. The low cost is also appealing.

Though we’ve only just started hearing about it, green burial has been around since the 19th century, holding particular appeal for people of the Jewish or Muslim faiths.

Throughout the U.S., there are a total of about sixty green cemeteries in existence.

Some of these comprise a specially designated section of a traditional cemetery.

Others are large sections of land that form part of parks or conservation areas.

If there’s no green burial cemetery near you, don’t worry. You can still have a green burial by skipping embalming and using a biodegradable casket.

It’s also worth looking into whether burial on private land is allowed in your state.

Finding a Cemetery

The choice of a cemetery may be the most important one in this process. Your family will be visiting it for years to come, so you want a space where they can feel comfort and peace.

When it comes to choosing a cemetery, it’s essential to ask the right questions.

Find out whether loved ones will have to walk a long way to get to your plot and if the grounds are well cared for.

Here are a few other considerations you should keep in mind.


Ideally, the cemetery should be located where it’s easy and convenient for family members to visit.

A long drive can be a deterrent to people wanting to visit or decorate the grave site.


Cemeteries typically charge fees for opening and closing the grave as well as perpetual upkeep.

These costs will vary depending on what part of the country you live in.

It’s important to research these costs in order to make a realistic budget for burial.

Cemetery options

If you want to be buried in a public mausoleum, you will need to find a cemetery that has one available.

Also if you’re planning a green burial, it’s important to ensure that the cemetery allows that.


Each cemetery has its own set of rules regarding things like the placement of flowers or decorations, appropriate behaviors when visiting, and the number of people that can be interred in one grave site.

There may also be restrictions on the kind of casket, urn or vault that you can use.

Familiarize yourself with the rules ahead of time so that you can make an informed choice about the cemetery that meets your needs best.

Choosing a Grave Marker

A grave marker is traditionally placed at the head of a grave to identify the person buried there.

These are usually engraved with the person’s name and his/her dates of birth and death.

Sometimes they may include personal information or a memorial quote (called an “epitaph”).

Here is everything you need to know to choose the right kind of grave marker for you or your loved one.

Types of headstones

When it comes to grave markers, there are many styles from which to choose.

Here are a few of the most popular.

Full monuments

These are the traditional headstones that most of us think of when picturing a grave marker.

They have an upright tablet shape, and stick straight up out of the ground.

Flat markers

These flat stones are placed at the head of the grave, flush with the grass.

Bevel markers

These also mark the head of the grave. Like flat markers, they also lie flat on the ground.

However, they are raised above the grass slightly.

Slant markers

These are flat on the ground, but the front slants slightly back to form a wedge shape.

They are also known as pillow stones.


These markers are flat on the ground, but raised slightly above it. They cover the entire grave.

Planning A Memorial Service

Once you’ve figured out the details of your cremation or burial plan, the next step is planning the funeral or memorial service.

First of all, you’ll need to figure out what kind of service you want.

Traditional Service

A full-service funeral is the type most heavily marketed by funeral homes.

There are many components to a traditional full-service funeral. Here are some features you might choose to have.

Funeral viewing

Also known as a visitation or a wake, the viewing is a time when the deceased person’s remains are displayed in a casket.

Visitors can come spend time with the body and with the grieving family.

Funeral service

The service may take place in a funeral home, a place of worship or at the graveside. A typical funeral service includes prayers, eulogies, music, sacred readings and hymns.

Graveside service

This is sometimes known as a committal service. A procession accompanies the remains to the burial site, where an officiant leads a formal service, similar in format to a traditional funeral service.

Finally the casket is placed in the ground or (alternatively) in the crypt or mausoleum.

Funeral wake

This is similar to a viewing or visitation; however, it can take place after the funeral service rather than before.

It may also be called a funeral reception.

Popular locations for a funeral wake/reception are restaurants, pubs, hotels, community centers, clubhouses or even quiet spaces in the outdoors.

Celebration of Life

Perhaps you want to completely deviate from the sad and somber mood of a traditional funeral and do something entirely different.

Maybe you want to be remembered with laughter and smiles, instead of with tears.

If so, you might consider planning a celebration of life.

What it is

This is a type of memorial service in which the focus is on positive memories rather than grief.

Where funerals tend to be formal and melancholy, a celebration of life is more casual and upbeat.

Almost anything goes at a celebration of life. Laughter and jokes are completely appropriate, even desirable.

The venue is often in a private home or maybe at an outdoor location, such as a beach or a park.

What happens

When it comes to a celebration of life, don’t expect to see the typical conventions of religion and formality that accompany a funeral.

People wear more casual outfits, favoring vibrant colors instead of the traditional black.

Often, the celebration of life consists of sharing food and drink, a few speeches and some kind of group activity.

Expect it to feel more like a party than a funeral.

For more information on how to plan a ceremony like this, check out our celebration of life guide.

Choosing a Casket

There’s a good chance that the casket may be the most expensive piece of funeral merchandise you will purchase.

For that reason, it’s important to shop around and make sure you find one that meets your needs and your budget.

How Much Does a Casket Cost?

There is a considerable range, but most caskets cost around $4000-$6000.

If you’re planning a cremation and will only need the casket for a short time, you might consider renting it to save money.

The cost of renting a casket is typically between $700 and $1000.

Types of Caskets

Caskets can be made of a variety of materials. When choosing what type of casket you want, it’s important to consider your budget and priorities.

Metal caskets

The most popular metals for caskets are copper, bronze or steel.

20-gauge steel is the strongest; you can also find caskets made of 18- or 16-gauge steel.

A pricier but more durable option is stainless steel.

The most expensive metals for caskets are copper and bronze. These have an advantage over steel in that they are more resistant to rust.

Wooden caskets

When it comes to caskets, not all woods are equal.

At one end of the spectrum, you have the expensive luxury woods: cherry, walnut and mahogany.

At the opposite end, you have the budget-friendly choices of poplar, willow and pine.

Oak, birch and maple fall in the middle of that spectrum.

No matter what kind of wood you choose, there are plenty of high-quality caskets available. Even the least expensive are usually finished with a smooth, glossy shine.

Biodegradable caskets

These are the best caskets to choose for a green burial.

They naturally decompose inside the earth, making them the most eco-friendly choice.

They are constructed without chemicals, glue or metal. Many of them are made of bamboo or wood with rope handles.

Catering and Food

Whether it’s simple hors d’oeuvres or a formal sit-down dinner, a shared meal allows friends and family to spend time together, sharing both memories and sympathy in a relaxed setting.

Hiring a catering service to take care of this for you can alleviate some of the stress and burden for you or your loved ones.

The Eulogy

The eulogy is a speech summarizing the life of your loved one. It is a wonderful opportunity to find some closure and help say goodbye.

If you are giving a eulogy, make sure you spend plenty of time preparing and practicing.

This will help ensure that you can speak effectively even if you’re overcome by nerves or emotion.

Funeral Songs

Music is an essential part of most funeral services. Songs often express our feelings better than words can and provide a sense of unity in the strong emotions of loss.

Here are a few popular funeral songs you might consider including.

  • “Tears In Heaven” by Eric Clapton
  • “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk
  • “Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice
  • “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Billie Holiday
  • “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling

Funeral Cards

It is a tradition to distribute small laminated cards with a tribute to the deceased printed on them.

They can be distributed at a funeral, wake, memorial service and/or a celebration of life.

These are sometimes called prayer cards or memorial cards.

They can be a meaningful keepsake for those who attend the service.

What To Do With Ashes

So you planned a cremation. But what next? What to do with the ashes?

It’s traditional to keep a loved one’s ashes on display in a cremation urn.

However, this is not the only option.

You can scatter the ashes in the ocean or in a favorite outdoor spot. You can even use them to create beautiful jewelry.

And if you do decide to use a cremation urn, the variety of these available may surprise you.

Scattering Ashes

The scattering of ashes is a unique way of memorializing a loved one. It brings with it a wonderful sensation of freeing the deceased person to become part of the eternal cycle of nature.

There are many ways that you can make this experience more meaningful: by choosing the right place and planning a ceremony.

Ideas where to scatter

If all this appeals to you, there are a number of different places to choose from based on the personality and wishes of your loved one.

With so many possibilities, it may be overwhelming to choose. Perhaps you can get some ideas from these popular scattering places.

At sea

If you want to scatter ashes at sea, there are a number of ways to accomplish that.

There are boat companies which specialize in scattering at sea.

Or if you have a boat of your own, you can simply take it out on the water and accomplish the scattering yourself.

Aerial scattering

Did your deceased friend or family member love to fly? If so, then an aerial scattering may be perfect.

A number of pilots now specialize in providing this service. They even have a special apparatus on the plane to keep ashes from blowing back into your face.

National park

Did your loved one have a favorite park or conservation area where they enjoyed hiking or camping?

Consider a favorite fishing spot or the top of a mountain as a scattering spot.

For a sports fan, you can even scatter ashes on a football or baseball field where they enjoyed watching games.

Scattering ceremony

The nice thing about choosing this type of memorial is that you have plenty of time to prepare.

There’s no need to rush. You can take the time to prepare a powerful and moving ceremony.

What to include? Prayers and singing can be wonderful. So can having one of your loved one’s favorite objects present at the ceremony.

Cremation Urns

Gone are the days when displaying an old-fashioned vase-shaped urn on the mantel was the only way to memorialize someone after cremation.

Of course, there are plenty of these traditional urns available. However, there are so many other unique choices.

Burial urns

You may decide to bury your loved one’s ashes underground.

If so, you want an urn sturdy enough to stand up to the earth piled on top of it.

Of course you also want it to reflect your loved one’s personality in some way.

Durable urns for burial come in all shapes and sizes. You can find urns shaped like a teardrop, traditional urns engraved with angel wings…and so much more.

Biodegradable urns

If nature and the environment were important to them, it may be fitting to use a biodegradable urn.

These urns are designed to decompose naturally into the earth.

You can use them for ground burial, sea scattering or to plant a tree that will serve as a living remembrance for years to come.

Companion urns

There are some couples whose love and companionship throughout their lives is memorable enough to be celebrated.

With a companion urn, their ashes can be combined together for eternity, suggesting that their love still endures in the afterlife.

Wooden urns

A wooden box has a natural, traditional look that you may find appealing.

Some of these are simple; others are very elegant and ornate.

Wooden urns can be buried or displayed beautifully in your home.

Cremation Art

If you’re looking for a truly unique way to remember a lost loved one, this may be just what you’re seeking.

Many companies are now producing gorgeous “cremation art,” creating beautiful tributes that last for generations.

What’s cremation art?

An artist mixes a small portion of cremation ash into blown glass, crafting gorgeous shapes and designs.

Swirls of color under smooth glass make these creations a keepsake you’ll cherish forever.

Types of art available

The creativity of these artists knows no bounds. They create many types of cremation art that you may have never even imagined before.

Glass orbs

The smooth circle of a glass orb offers a tangible symbol of timelessness.

No matter where you display it, it will look beautiful.

Orbs come in a stunning variety of colors. They have a unique look that’s sure to catch the eye, but only you will know that your loved one’s ashes are swirled within it.

Cremation urns

These urns take the traditional a step further, making it unique and spectacular.

The traditional urn shape appears in glossy, smooth, swirls of vivid color.

They look gorgeous wherever you place them and will last for generations.


Nestled close to your heart, these look like nothing more than beautiful jewelry. But in reality, your loved one’s remains are close to you wherever you go.

Glass cremation pendants come in a stunning array of different colors, shapes and sizes.


These are both functional and beautiful, allowing you to feel close to your loved one every time you reach over to turn the light on.

Gorgeous mosaic designs give these lamps a luxurious look. Some of them are even reminiscent of Tiffany lamps.


Necklaces, bracelets and rings can all be used to preserve your loved one’s ashes close to you, in a beautiful form.

A number of companies, now exist to meet the needs of this rising trend. If you’re interested, see our reviews on leading companies such as Artful Ashes and Spirit Pieces.

Cremation Diamonds

In another rising trend, we’re starting to see cremation ashes transformed into gorgeous diamonds.

These can be made into pendant necklaces, rings or earrings that become a permanent and beautiful memorial to your loved one.

The process

Transforming cremation ash into diamonds is a long and complex process.

To begin with, the carbon in the ashes must be isolated and purified.

Next, intense heat and pressure is applied by machinery. This process mimics the way diamonds are grown in nature.

Eventually, crystallization takes place and a rough diamond is formed.

Once it has reached the desired size, the diamond is extracted from the cell where it has been growing. It is then cleaned, cut and polished. Color can be added as desired.

Finally the diamond is examined and graded for authenticity by an expert.


The cost of cremation diamonds varies depending on size, color, cut and clarity.

The price can range from around $750 to more than $20k.


  1. Afton Jackson June 10, 2020
  2. Rachel Frampton November 20, 2020

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