How to Plan a Cremation Online: Step-by-Step


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Planning a cremation today is easier and faster than ever thanks to crematories providing a simple online process for planning. Though you may need to visit the crematory for some arrangements, you can often plan what type of cremation you want, choose add-on services, and even plan the type of funeral or memorial service you want without leaving your house.

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Planning from the comfort of your computer provides you with greater control over your decisions, more time to complete the planning process, and less pressure or stress. If this sounds appealing, read on for everything you need to know about planning a cremation online.

What Is Online Cremation?

With the restrictions and regulations put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of families and individuals completing funeral planning solely online has increased dramatically. Thankfully, the process isn’t any more difficult or complicated than planning in person. You may even like the nature of online planning better than going to a funeral home or crematory in person.

Online funeral planning and cremation planning occurs when you find your cremation provider, set up your end-of-life wishes, and plan for funeral services solely online. You can accomplish these tasks by filling out web forms, submitting payment information online, and communicating wishes to both the provider and designated family members via email or another form of online communication.

Note: Completing an online cremation or funeral plan is simpler when doing so on a pre-need basis. When planning ahead, you can arrange for your own services or help a family member plan for theirs with plenty of time to change your mind, add details, and finalize arrangements. Because of the nature of at-need services, most crematories and funeral homes will require phone appointments to confirm arrangements.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

Steps for Planning a Cremation Online

Ready to plan for a cremation online? Follow these steps to help you through the process.

Step 1: Learn about cremation

You might know about traditional flame-based cremation, but did you know there’s a new type of cremation called aqua cremation? Learning about the types of cremation is an important step before deciding on the type of cremation you want. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Flame-based cremation: Involves fire to reduce a person’s body down to bones. The bones are then ground into “ash” and returned to the family. Ashes are usually a gray color.

Aqua cremation: Involves water and an alkaline solution to reduce a person’s body down to bones. The bones are then ground into “ash” and returned to the family. Ashes are typically a pure white color.

Step 2: Find a cremation provider

Once you understand how cremation works you’re ready to find cremation companies near you that offer the service you’re looking for. If choosing traditional flame-based cremation, you’ll likely find several options near you. Aqua cremation isn’t available in every state yet, so you might need to look around to find an aqua cremation provider.

When deciding on a cremation provider, it can be helpful to ask questions like:

  • How long has the provider been in business?
  • What type of cremation services do they offer?
  • Do they offer funeral services, memorial services, or celebration of life services?
  • Do they offer viewing cremation services and final goodbye options?
  • Are they CANA and ICCFA affiliated?
  • Do they offer unique add-on services like cremation keepsakes?
  • What do customers say about the provider’s services?
  • Does the provider offer financing options?

As you find the answers to the above questions, check for any red flags. If a crematory doesn’t seem reputable, has poor ratings and reviews, or doesn’t provide the types of services you need, scratch it off of your list and move on. 

Step 3: Choose a service package

Most crematories offer several types of cremation packages including direct cremation, viewing cremation, cremation with a memorial service, and cremation with a funeral service. Some crematories provide wakes or viewings before the cremation, as well.

Not sure which to choose? Here is what each package typically involves.

Direct cremation: The crematory picks up your loved one’s body from the hospital, nursing home, or other location. Cremation is then performed. Your loved one’s ashes are returned to you in a temporary urn.

Viewing cremation: After the crematory picks up your loved one, you arrange a time for the cremation to occur. You and several family members are invited to view your loved one when they are placed in the cremation chamber. You can then stay for as long as you’d like during the cremation process.

Cremation with a memorial service: After the cremation, the crematory provides a room, audio/visual equipment, and other necessary arrangements to help you provide a memorial service for your loved one.

Cremation with a funeral service: After the cremation, the crematory provides a traditional graveside funeral service at the plot where you plan to lay the urn to rest or the niche where the urn will be stored.

Cremation with a wake or viewing: Before the cremation, the crematory places the deceased in a temporary casket. They complete body preparation to ensure the deceased is presentable. The crematory then opens up a room for the deceased to be viewed where the family can remain during the wake or viewing time. After the wake, the body will then be cremated.

Step 4: Choose add-ons

Most crematories offer several add-ons for family members to choose from including the purchase of permanent urns and cremation keepsakes. Though some add-ons can be purchased after the fact, keepsakes like fingerprint jewelry need to be chosen before the cremation process. 

When looking through add-ons, it’s a good idea to ask the cremation provider for a list of services that need to be chosen before cremation.

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Step 5: Choose cemetery plot, niche, or urn

If you’re pre-planning for yourself, you may want to choose what happens to your ashes. You can have them buried in a cemetery plot, placed into a columbarium niche, or placed into an urn that a family member will keep. Here are a few things to keep in mind for each option.

Cemetery plot: The advantage to this option is that it gives your entire family a place to visit you. The downside is that the purchase of a plot, headstone, and cemetery services will add to the overall expense.

Columbarium niche: This provides your family with a place to visit you. It’s more affordable than a cemetery plot.

Cremation urn: Placing ashes in an urn gives your family the option to place your remains in a cemetery plot, a niche, or keep them. They also have the option to share cremains or place some of your ashes into cremation jewelry. This is the more affordable option, as well.

Step 6: Finalize plans

Once you’ve outlined all of your wishes, it’s time to finalize plans. This generally means submitting pre-need plans to the crematory or funeral home and providing a copy to a designated family member. 

This is also the step where you can pay for services ahead, pay for them upfront if you’re planning a loved one’s services and have an immediate need, or set up a payment plan.

Popular Places to Buy a Cremation Container or Urn Online

Crematories provide a temporary urn or cremation container when they return your loved one’s cremains. Though you can certainly keep the cremains in a temporary container, you might want to choose a permanent urn if you’re planning to keep them on your mantle or somewhere prominent in your home. Thankfully, you can buy urns online and even have them personalized or customized before they’re shipped to the funeral home or your home.


Amazon offers a wide array of urns for human and pet ashes. You can find traditional and more unique options, in addition to pet urns, and cremation jewelry. Check the product’s rating and read through customer reviews to make sure you purchase a quality product.

Many products can be customized, and you can have your loved one’s name, dates, or a phrase inscribed on the urn.


You might turn to Etsy if you’re looking for a special urn you can’t find anywhere else. Since Etsy features many artisans, you’ll find unique urn options ranging from metal to blown glass and everything in between. Customization is almost always possible. If you have a special request, send a message to the seller and begin a conversation.

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Foreverence specializes in creating 3D model urns based on your drawings, design concepts, and pictures. If you want a one-of-a-kind urn that represents your loved one’s personality or interests, Foreverence is the place to go.

Perfect Memorials

Perfect Memorials offers unique urns so you can choose one based on your loved one’s interests or hobbies. Their urns can be customized with an inscription of your loved one’s name, dates, and special phrases.

Other online storefronts

These online storefronts offer a wide selection of basic urns, cremation jewelry, and other urn offerings.

  • Full-size and keepsake urns, biodegradable urns, pet urns, and cremation jewelry.
  • Stardust Memorials: Full-size and keepsake urns, pet urns, cremation jewelry, and urn vaults for burial.
  • One World Memorial: Full-size urns, pet urns, biodegradable urns, cremation keepsakes, and cremation jewelry.
  • Urns Northwest: Full-size wood and hand-blown glass urns, keepsake urns, biodegradable urns, scattering urns, and pet urns.
  • Full-size and keepsake urns, cremation jewelry, cremation keepsakes, headstones, and grave markers.

Planning an End-of-Life Service Online

Planning an end-of-life service that honors the life and legacy of your loved one is simple thanks to online tools and resources. Whether you’re planning pre-need services for yourself or helping a loved one, as long as you take your time and work through each of the steps listed in this article, you’ll wrap up the planning process in no time.


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