Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category


Recognizing Grief and Helping Others Cope

February 7, 2011

Coping with the death of a loved one is a difficult and turmultuous time for anyone. Those affected are oftentimes overhelmed with the responsibility of not only making all of the arrangements for the funeral, but also administering the final affairs of the deceased that were heretofore left unattended or unresolved. Oftentimes, managing this process is performed in tandem while dealing with the added stress of financial worries that accompany the loss of their loved one. During this time those left to mourn the passing of a loved one can be so consumed by the required logistics and managment of affairs that the full impact of their loss may not be realized until well after the funeral is over. They are left to reflect on their loved one’s passing while being immersed in loneliness that inevitably accompanies the loss of a companion. It is during this time that friends and family must be vigilant in recognizing the outward signs of grief the survivor may be experiencing and stand poised ready to intervene with their support if required.

Grief can manifest itself in a number of ways and signs can generally be categorized into three basic groups: physical symptoms, emotional implications, and social indicators. Below are just a few of the more common ways grief may demonstrate itself through each of these three categories.

Physically, someone who is grief stricken may find themselves experiencing headaches, weakness, fatigue, as well as aches and pains. Someone experiencing grief may also experience difficulty sleeping or even a loss of appetite. Concerned friends or family members should pay close attention to such complaints and be alert to changes in the disposition of a despondent loved one.

Emotional manifestations of grief in a surviving family member can include sadness, excessive worry, periods of profound frustration, and even anger. Survivors may even experience guilt; being overcome with a feeling of responsibility for not having done enough and unable to see the good they have done. Such is typically the case in situations of suicide or death brought forth by disease or violence.

The social aspects of grief are oftentimes the most apparent for close friends and family members who may not necessarily be privvy to the physical or emotional signs that follow grief in an individual. Many times someone who is experiencing profound grief will feel detached from others, even close friends and family. Detachment will often lead to one isolating him or herself from social contact.

There are practical, proactive steps you can take to help your friend or family member work through their grief. These small gestures can go a long way toward relieving some of their worries and anguish. In addition, each is a good excuse to give them the companionship they may otherwise be lacking during this difficult time; companionship they may not seek out or wish to burden another to provide. The mere fact that you’re taking your time to be with them and help them through some otherwise mundane tasks will provide them with the security of knowing that they are not alone. Here are just a few examples of things you can do to help through it:

  • Assist the bereaved in making arrangements for the funeral
  • Do some of their grocery shopping for them
  • Take them to lunch or dinner to give them some time outside the confines of their home
  • Perform some of their housekeeping tasks, such as vacuuming or laundry
  • Play the chaffeur and drive them where they need to go
  • Accompany them to religious services
  • Help them manage their bills
  • Make or drop off dinner for them
  • Take them out to go shopping or to see a movie together

When helping someone work through their grieving process, it’s important to keep in mind that they will not totally overcome the emotional injury that they have endured. That said, however, your love, care, and support will certainly help them through the most difficult times and prevent them from falling into physical and emotional isolation. Providing companionship also gives you the opportunity to assess how they are coping without browbeating them with questions regarding how they are holding up or appearing overbearing. Coping with the death of a loved one is a transitional period for the bereaved and everything you can do to help them through that painful process will go a long way toward making a difficult journey a little more bearable.


Choosing the Right Cremation Urn

December 28, 2010

Choosing the Right UrnWhen selecting a cremation urn for yourself or a loved one, there is no shortage of styles, sizes, and types to choose from. From final disposition to aesthetics to matters as mundane as size, there are a number of factors that one must consider when selecting just the right cremation urn for you or your loved one.

Size – The size requirement of your selected cremation urn is probably one of the most crucial, yet least understood variable in selecting an urn. Many people have no idea what size urn they truly need. The calculation, however, is pretty straightforward. To make sure you have an urn large enough to accommodate your or your loved ones’ ashes, use the following formula: one cubic inch for every pound you or your loved one weighed in life. For instance, if your loved one weighed 185 lbs in life, the proper urn should have an internal capacity of at least 185 cubic inches.

Function/Purpose – There are several functions or purposes for which a cremation urn can serve, such as occupying a permanent place in your home, burial, or internment in a niche. The intended final disposition is a factor for selecting an urn that must be considered prior to selecting a cremation urn. There are various urn styles and types, each of which serves to address the intended purpose.

Style or Type – The number of available urn styles is constantly expanding. Manufacturers and distributors are introducing new styles all the time. As a simple reference, however, here is a short list from which to consider:

  • Cube or cubic urns are just as their name implies. They are fashioned into cubes or other rectilinear volumes typically from some type of metal. Though some are produced from molds, most are fabricated usually by hand. With a more modern, understated appearance, they are quickly gaining favor with the public at large. Because of their shape, they lend themselves to having special appliqués or medallions attached, as well as to being engraved for that personal touch.
  • Vase urns are one of the most familiar type of urn. Though technically not truly a vase as it is fully enclosed, it does retain the general shape of a vase.
  • Cloisonne urns essentially are metal vases and are decorated with vitreous enamel, which is permanently fired into place within a framework of fine metal cloisonne wire that is formed into an intricate design on the urn. The finished designs are oftentimes quite elaborate with a handcrafted appeal.
  • Green or earth-friendly urns are quickly gaining in popularity. With our culture becoming more focused on preserving the environment, green products have been popping up for nearly every facet of our lives. Such is the case with cremation urns, as well. Recently, there has been an influx of biodegradable urns, which allow the family to have a memorial for their loved one with an attractive urn. Once buried, these urns typically will break down in days or even hours without causing harm to the environment.
  • Keepsake Urns are very small urns, which are used to allow multiple family members to retain a portion of a loved one’s ashes. They provide an excellent solution for remembrance shared amongst a group of family members. These urns are oftentimes available in styles and finishes that match the larger, primary urn.

Quality – When it comes to cremation urns, the levels of quality vary tremendously. Materials used in their development, manufacturing methods employed, and finishing processes all have a profound effect on the overall quality of the urn. Depending on the type of urn being manufactured, some are molded in a foundry while others are fabricated by hand. Each manufacturing method has its own challenges; challenges which can vary the quality of the finished product. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to be vigilant with respect to the quality of the urn they select.

Availability – When considering a cremation urn, you must also take into account the urn’s availability and how quickly you can attain it. This is especially important in situations where there is a planned memorial service in the near future. Depending on stock levels, customization such as engraving, and shipping options, some vendors may not be able to comply with your needs. These are questions that you should ask your supplier prior to making your purchase.

These are just a few of the factors that someone considering the purchase of a cremation urn must take into account. Of course, there will always be other considerations, such as price, but these will provide you with a good start when juggling the many options available to you.


Shop Smart for Funeral Products

June 3, 2010

When confronted with the unexpected death of a loved one – even if you are unprepared or funeral arrangements were not handled on a pre-need basis – you should be careful not to fall victim to the escalated prices that many are faced with when decisions must be made immediately. Even during difficult emotional times, keep in mind that you always have the option – or obligation, rather – to protect your finances and your family by shopping smart.

Many feel the pressure to provide the best for their departed loved one, whether it be when selecting a cremation urn, a casket, or otherwise. Unfortunately, however, many people interpret the best to mean the most expensive, especially when seated across from a funeral professional who knows he or she has a captive audience and one which is averse to comparative shopping during a difficult time in their life. It’s natural to feel awkward about discussing or negotiating price, as though it is bad form to concern yourself with such considerations at such a solemn time. Just as in life your loved one wouldn’t want to overpay for a car, a home, or any other item, it is no different when arranging for his or her funeral. On the contrary, spending wisely is even more critical at the time of their death, as they no doubt would have wanted to keep expenses to a minimum.

Human nature compels us to feel guilty if we don’t do everything we can for a loved one who has passed on. The truth of the matter is that we have, in fact, done everything we could have for them in life. In death, however, what we do truly is for the survivors’ benefit. When purchasing a cremation urn, casket, or funeral services, you should bear in mind that the price you pay is relative to the environment in which you make the purchase. For instance, if you’re at a funeral home making arrangements to transfer your loved one from a hospital or nursing home to the funeral home, to the funeral director it’s almost a foregone conclusion that you will be purchasing the urn or casket from him or her, as well as the memorial service, guest book, director services, flowers etc. As such, it is far more likely that you will be spending well above that which you would have had you shopped for an urn over the web from the comfort and convenience of your own home. In many cases the urn you purchase from the web can be shipped the same or next day with expedited delivery. Moreover, the funeral home is mandated by law (the FTC’s “Funeral Rule”) to use the casket or urn that the survivor chooses, whether or not it’s purchased from the funeral home.

Funeral products, such as cremation urns or caskets, enjoy no more special status than any other product that you may seek to purchase. They are products, plain and simple, and are manufactured or handcrafted much like any other. The products are sold to multiple vendors; vendors who will, in turn, price them according to what their market will bear. So what does this mean for you, the consumer? Coupled with the vast informational resources of the Internet and realizing they are, in fact, still just products arms you with the ability to research, compare, and ultimately obtain the best price you can for your selected cremation urn, casket, or other funeral product without sacrificing quality.


The Consumer’s Rights to Funeral Planning

March 8, 2010

When faced with the death of a loved one, oftentimes people neglect due diligence when it comes to their rights as consumers. Whether they’re consumed with the loss or just overwhelmed by all the decisions and preparations involved in funeral planning, many times researching and working on understanding your rights is lost in the process. But this is not the time to put your rights on the backburner. This is the time when consumers are most vulnerable, and there is no shortage of unsavory individuals who are more than happy to capitalize on one’s weakened state. To fight this, Congress passed The Funeral Rule in 1982–a rule that is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. This rule sets the rights of consumers and establishes the framework by which funeral homes must operate. To date, however, The Funeral Rule does not apply to cemeteries, crematories, and other death-related vendors.

In brief, the Funeral Rule establishes the following rights for consumers:

  • Perhaps most importantly, the consumer has the right to buy goods and services separately.
  • You have the right to choose only the funeral goods and services that you want, with a few exceptions.
  • The funeral provider must provide to the consumer a written itemized price list which conveys their right to choose what they want. They must provide this before the consumer decides on the services that they want.
  • The funeral provider must provide a casket price list before a casket is selected. This applies to outer burial containers , as well.
  • Funeral providers must supply an itemized total for everything selected before the services are rendered.
  • Consumers must not be required to buy anything that’s not required by state law. Any goods or services required by state law must be clearly outlined in the funeral home’s price list. A reference to the specific law must also be demonstrated in writing. Typically, consumers have the right to refuse embalming, but this varies depending upon individual state laws.
  • The funeral provider is obligated to handle a casket or urn that the consumer had purchased from an alternate vendor. They cannot charge a fee for doing so.
  • A funeral provider who offers cremations must make alternative content containers available to the consumer.
  • Only one non-declinable “basic fee” can be charged by the Funeral home “basic fee.”
  • Funeral and cemetery laws must be accurately represented by the funeral home. They cannot lie or misrepresent such. Ask for a copy of the law if you are told something is required by law.

If you are not satisfied with the treatment or service you’ve received by a funeral provider, you are encouraged to contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance. The Funeral Consumers Alliance is a not-for-profit organization that offers advice on how to resolve issues you may experience with a funeral provider. The FTC avails a number of resources to the consumer that both guides them and makes them aware of their rights regarding funerals and funeral planning. For the text of the FTC Funeral Rule, follow this link. The FTC consumer’s guide to funerals can be accessed by following this link. Finally, view the content of the FTC’s “Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods & Services” with this link.

Go to the Urns of America, LLC resource page for links to more information surrounding your rights and benefits that are available to you.


Quality Varies in Cremation Urns

December 31, 2009

Savvy consumers strive to find quality products at competitive prices. To achieve this, many will employ the Internet to research products and seek out vendors from both traditional brick-and-mortar outlets and e-commerce alternatives. For cremation urns – as with any product – there are vast differences when it comes to product quality. With the many manufacturers that produce funeral urns being located all over the world, including India, China, and Turkey, the quality spectrum is even greater. Fortunately, individuals considering the purchase of cremation urns have the luxury of time when evaluating the multitude of products available to them.

The wary consumer should exercise care when evaluating products based on their photos when purchasing online. Because of their low resolution, web images can hide flaws. What may be insignificant flaws in finish or manufacture can often be masked by the limited resolution of the photos. Even without intention to be misleading by an online retailer, low resolution product photos still present a challenge to the consumer. To safeguard yourself make certain that the e-commerce vendor from whom you’re considering making a purchase provides the option to view enlarged photos of their products.

Something the online consumer cannot gauge from product photos – no matter how good – is the materials used in their manufacture. This is especially true for the cube-style or “cubic” cremation urns. There are various methods of manufacture, including fabrication (where the units are actually handmade and then finished) and casting. For the fabricated urns, one of the more significant variables is the thickness of the metal used. Urns made from metal that is .030″ thick is common. Urns of this thickness are very light and susceptible to waves formed during welding or brazing of the urn walls. Urns which are polished will exhibit this problem more predominantly than urns which are brushed for final finishing. Thinner walled urns also are vulnerable to dents during shipping. The thickness of fabricated urns are available in heavier gauges, as well, including .100″, which is over three times the thickness of the .030″ units. Since the thickness of the metal used in the urn is not usually provided in the product description, the consumer should look to the product’s weight to compare. As a general rule, the thicker the material, the heavier the unit. The product’s weight is a good indicator of the thickness of the metal used. In general, for equivalently sized urns, the heavier the urn, the thicker the material used during manufacture.

Design specifications and adherence to them during manufacture play a crucial role in a product’s overall quality. Again, this can be difficult to discern from a product photo. Since many fabricated urns (cube style) are handcrafted, adherence to specifications can vary considerably among the various manufacturers. Things to watch out for include the manufacturer’s care in adhering the baseplate mouting brackets. If the brackets are not mounted evenly at the specified points, the baseplate will be uneven and potentially cause the urn to sit lopsided when placed on a flat surface. Other factors of concern include the cut and bonding of the urn sides.

Consumers should pay special attention to the finish of the urn. As stated earlier, low-resolution product photos on the web can mask many of the flaws that can otherwise be readily seen in person. Watch out for poor quality lacquer coatings, which protect the urn from discoloration while providing an attractive finish. The consumer should also be aware that the color of finish of an urn (bronze, brass, stainless steel, etc.) may not be indicative of the material used to create the product. Instead, the urn may simply be plated. Though this is not necessarily an issue of concern, the consumer should still be aware of how the urn is manufactured. When evaluating plated products, pay close attention to the uniformity of the finish. If the plating is inadequate, the density of the finish color will vary. That, however, may not be readily apparent in a product photo.

When choosing the cremation option, the consumer has the added benefit of time. Take advantage of the time availed to you by researching both the vendors and their products prior to making a purchase.


Welcome to the Urns of America Blog

December 7, 2009

Welcome to our blog, an online resource regarding cremation urns, their availability, quality, and helpful information to address your concerns for their application as well as their procurement.

You can visit our website to view our full line of quality cremation urns at We carry a variety of styles and sizes for adults, children, pets, as well as specialized urns for military personnel, firefighters, policemen and women.


All Cremation Urns Now Available Online

December 7, 2009

As of the middle of November our website finally has our entire line of products represented. With over 900 products ranging from urns for adults and children, military urns, and pet urns, we completed this portion of the site development within the projected timeline. Currently, we offer an extensive line of products, including:

We are always seeking out and evaluating new products to complement our current offering of cremation urns. At present, our line of cubic urns includes two sizes and four different colors/finishes. In the future, we will be offering additional finishes, as well as appliques, which will increase our offering exponentially.