Cremation services are becoming an increasingly popular end of life choice. In fact, more than one million Americans choose to be cremated instead of buried each year, approximately 42 percent of all people who die annually. Although a direct cremation makes planning a funeral much less expensive and involved, family and friends still have to decide what to do with the cremated remains.
Many family members and friends choose to scatter the ashes in a place that was a favorite of the deceased, such as the ocean, a garden or a favorite park. Others choose to use a portion of the remains to make a lasting piece of cremation jewelry. Still others have the remains buried in a cemetery plot or placed in a family crypt. Another, lesser known option is to have the remains placed in a columbarium.
What is a columbarium?
A columbarium is a grid-like structure that contains multiple vaults designed to house cremated remains. A columbarium may be located within a building or outside as a freestanding structure. Some columbaria are located within churches or on church grounds; others are located in buildings constructed especially to house a columbarium. Many cemeteries and crematoria include columbaria.
Benefits to using a columbarium
There are many advantages to choosing a columbarium other other final options. Just a few of these include:
1. A columbarium is less expensive than many other options. A vault in a columbarium is generally much less expensive than a cemetery plot, since it takes up much less real estate than the typical grave site.
2. A columbarium can be easily visited by friends and family. When you have your relative's remains in your home or have them made into a piece of cremation jewelry, it's difficult for other family members or friends to pay their respects to the deceased. Most columbaria are open to the public.
3. A columbarium can often accommodate multiple remains. Many vaults in a columbarium are large enough to accommodate the remains of more than one person, usually two or three. That means a husband and wife can be interred in the same vault, making this an even more affordable after-life choice.
While choosing a columbarium as a final resting place isn't the right choice for everyone, these vaults are generally less expensive than traditional cemetery plots, are kinder to the environment since they use less land and can be easily visited by all of your family and friends.