Deciding what you want to be done with your body after death is a very personal choice. Some people prefer the thought of being buried. Others would rather be cremated. Most people will make that decision on their own. But some couples work together to make the same choice as one another. They’ve committed to spending their lives together, and they want to stay together after death, too.
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If a couple chooses to be buried, they often select a joint or side-by-side burial plot. And if they opt for cremation, they might choose to have their ashes held together in a companion urn.
Here, we’ll talk more about what a companion urn is. We’ll also delve more into the different types of companion urns that people can select.
Tip: If you're looking for something very unique (think a game, their motorcycle, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. You submit a design idea or sketch, then the company designs and 3D prints your urn, so you get a 100% unique container.
What Is a Companion Urn?
A companion urn is a vessel that allows the ashes of two people to be stored together. Companion urns frequently contain the ashes of a married couple. Companion urns tend to be on the large side, as they need to be able to hold twice the amount of ashes as a standard urn. Companion urns can also be used to hold the ashes of a large individual.
The size of the companion urn will depend on the size of the people whose ashes it will contain. The general rule of thumb is to add the pre-cremation weights of the two people whose ashes will be interred. For each pound, you need one cubic inch of space. Then add an additional twenty cubic inches, just to be on the safe side. So if one member of a couple weighed 200 pounds and the other weighed 175 pounds, you would need a vessel than has 395 cubic inches of space.
The way you place the ashes into a companion urn is also dependent upon personal preference. Generally speaking, ashes shouldn’t be poured directly into a vessel. They go in a sealable plastic bag. This means that if the urn falls and breaks, ashes won’t be scattered everywhere.
In companion urns, you can put two separate bags of ashes in the appropriate compartment. Or, you can put both sets of ashes in one bag and place that in the companion urn. This act of combining the two sets of ashes is called commingling. If you plan to be interred in a companion urn, be sure to leave instructions with your next of kin on whether or not your ashes should be commingled.
With a companion urn, it’s important to remember that people don’t always die at the same time. If your spouse predeceases you, you might opt to get an urn that’s only large enough for their remains. Your intention might be to get a larger companion urn so your cremains can be added later. If you are waiting though, you should let your next-of-kin know about your intentions.
One last thing to keep in mind is that a companion urn is mostly necessary if both sets of ashes are being stored together. This won’t always be the case, though. If two siblings are planning to commingle the ashes of their parents and separate them, then a companion urn isn’t necessary. Two regular-sized urns should be sufficient.
Popular Types of Companion Urns
A companion urn is a type of urn. But within that type of urn, there are other subsets. Here, we break down some of the kinds of companion urns you can choose for yourself or for loved ones.
1. Traditional urn
When people think about cremation urns, they usually picture a large vessel that resembles a vase. This is a really classic silhouette. It’s also a somewhat inexpensive way to display ashes, as vases like this don’t have to be custom made.
They are fairly easy to find, even in the larger size a companion urn requires. You can personalize them with something like a small plaque. Or you can let them be a subtle part of your home decor. They come in an array of materials, including ceramic, glass, or stoneware. This kind of vessel has a lot of flexibility to it, making it well-suited for the purpose.
2. Stone companion urn
One thing that holds people back from getting cremated is the feeling that it’s a little casual. When someone is buried, they get a headstone that pays tribute to their life. It’s a monument that lasts long after you’re gone. An urn that just looks like a vase doesn’t hold the same kind of gravitas.
However, there are stone companion urns that are built to resemble a grave marker. They are long and rectangular and made out of materials like marble, granite, or onyx. They are usually laser engraved with the names of the people whose ashes are contained inside.
In the case of a married couple, their shared surname might be at the top. Then each side of the container might have a space devoted to each individual. It could feature their name, the dates they were alive, and a memorial quote. Some will even feature a photo or engraving of the deceased together. There are endless ways to customize and personalize this kind of companion urn.
3. Modern metal companion urn
If you have a little more of a modern aesthetic, a metal companion urn can be an excellent choice. They can be really sleek and minimalist. They also come in a variety of materials and finishes. You can select silver, copper, bronze, rose gold, or a number of other looks.
Metal companion urns come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can get something large and sleek and cylindrical so the ashes can be commingled. Or you can get two matching urns so ashes can be independent but still part of a set. One popular design is two glossy metal birds. This is a very fresh and contemporary take on urns for cremains.
4. Wood companion urn
One problem with displaying people’s ashes is that it can feel a little cold. A traditional urn can seem impersonal. Even a personalized stone urn can feel very formal. Many people prefer wood urns because they have a warmth to them. Part of that is because it’s made of a natural material. The wood grain also adds an interesting textural element that makes it feel warmer.
With a wooden companion urn, there’s also plenty of opportunities to personalize it. You can select a type of wood that might hold symbolism or meaning for you. You can pick different finishes or stains for a wooden urn. You can go for a simple design or one with lots of embellishments. You can also have it engraved.
A wooden memorial urn might feature the names of the deceased and the dates they lived. It may feature separate memorial quotes or one that encapsulates their relationship. Some wooden urns come with slots where a photograph of the deceased can be inserted. There are so many ways you can customize a wooden companion urn.
5. Wall plaque companion urn
A wall plaque is a less common type of urn for ashes. Ashes are kept in a three-dimensional box that is often framed. Wall plaque memorials can just be a plain box with a brass plaque affixed to it. Or they can include decorative elements. If the deceased loved art, this can be a great way to honor them.
One fun way to use wall plaques as companion urns is to have a piece of art on the front of each one. The designs should be able to stand alone, but can then create a different image when placed together. It’s a sweet and creative memorial.
6. Biodegradable companion urn
All of the urns we’ve discussed so far are intended so that the ashes of two people can remain together indefinitely. But some people would actually prefer that their ashes be scattered together.
If your spouse dies before you do, you may opt to keep their ashes until you pass away. Then, you may leave instructions that you and your partner’s ashes be scattered together. You could also choose to have both of your ashes placed in a biodegradable urn.
A biodegradable companion urn allows for ashes to be interred on land or placed in the water. The urn breaks down without polluting the environment, and the ashes contained within are returned to the Earth. If you and your spouse loved going to the beach together, a biodegradable companion urn is a great choice. Your loved ones can send your remains out to the sea together.
Companion Urns: Helping People Stay Together After Death
When you fall deeply in love with someone, you often intend to spend the rest of your life with them. A little thing like death can’t keep you apart, either. You and your spouse can be buried together in side-by-side plots. Or you can be cremated and have your ashes held together in a companion urn. These urns for ashes aren’t just for couples, either.
Companion urns can be used to keep a parent and child together. They can even be used to keep people and their beloved pets together. If you were devoted to someone in life, a companion urn can keep you together even after death.
Another beautiful option for keeping a loved one's memory alive is a memorial diamond created from ashes. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.