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Cremation Keepsakes: A perfect way to share ashes

By Jerri Haaven
Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant

The Glenwood Bronze Cremation Keepsake

Keepsakes represent the presence of someone loved who is now absent.

Many first-time parents save a lock of their baby’s hair as a keepsake of the baby’s first year. These keepsakes have often been stored in a baby book or a locket. It is also not unusual for people to place a keepsake somewhere that has significance. These keepsakes come in the form of a cross along a road, or a picture on a desk, or an item such as a balloon that depicts the favorite color of the person, or any other small item that is unique to the individual who passed away. And there’s a good chance that at some point you have driven or walked by a makeshift memorial where items were placed in memory of someone who died.

Keepsakes: sharing the ashes

It shouldn’t be a surprise that for individuals and families who choose cremation, there are many unique keepsakes to consider. A small portion of a loved one’s ashes can be shared and stored in a number of different objects. In fact, the opportunities for discovering a keepsake of this type are limited only by the imagination.

What are keepsake urns?

Keepsake urns are small vessels that can hold a minimal portion of cremated remains as a memorial.  Keepsakes are a wonderful innovation for a cremation memorial as a way to:

  1. keep a token amount of a loved one’s ashes in a beautiful and meaningful vessel
  2. involve friends and families through sharing the ashes for keeping
  3. involve friends in a way to scatter a bit of ash in different parts of the country or the world

Cremation jewelry urns typically hold a “pinch” of ashes. Other cremation keepsake urns can hold a larger portion of ashes.  Keepsake urns are made of many different materials and come in a whole range of styles such as hearts, lamps, mini urns, metal roses, candle holders and other specialty urns.

What do you do with left over cremation ash?

For families who like the more traditional aspect of cremation, a family can choose to have their loved ones cremains placed in an urn for display or burial, or placed in an urn for scattering purposes. However, an option that is becoming more popular is that in addition to a regular size urn, families are choosing to purchase companion urns and keepsake urns too, for the entire family. Keepsake urns, which are approximately 2.5 inches in height, come in as many styles, shapes and colors as the larger more The keepsakes we bought for my fathertraditional urns. Heart shaped urns, patriotic vessels dressed in red, white and blue, and even miniature size urns are great examples of how a family can continue to remember their loved ones for generations.  When my dad passed away, my brothers and I selected a combination of keepsake urns as seen in this photo.

Jewelry Keepsakes

When an urn simply isn’t enough, or when there is a need or desire for a loved one to be kept close at heart, jewelry keepsakes provide endless opportunities to remember someone.

Specialized jewelry pieces made of every known element, such as glass, pewter, silver, gold, platinum and even diamonds are available. The jewelry piece can contain a pinch of ash to carry with you always. For those who enjoy wearing jewelry, what better way to illuminate someone’s life than adorning a memory in the form of a necklace, brooch, bracelet or a ring?

Queen Victoria gave rise to a trend when she went into perpetual mourning at the loss of her beloved King Albert. All of her jewelry was custom designed and made of jet-black stone. The trend became known as “Mourning Jewelry.” Today most jewelry designs depict a more subtle style and are suitable to wear every day.

Unusual Keepsakes 

To capture a person’s unique interests and personality, take a moment to think about what made the person so unique. What was his or her passion? Perhaps it was books? Dancing? Skiing or fishing?  Then take a look around the house and look for something that could be converted into a specialized vessel for the ashes. It could be anything from the ordinary to the outrageous. For example, the parents of a 15-year-old boy who lost his life had a Nokia mobile phone replica made to honor their son. Another family had an old sewing machine converted into a final resting place for the ashes of their loved one who loved to sew.

It begs the question – how would you like to be remembered in the form of a keepsake for your family?


Jerri Haaven is a freelance writer, and a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant. When caring for her dad, who suffered from dementia and COPD, Jerri struggled with the negative side effects of his illness. She developed positive outlets to express herself and recover from her loss. Today as a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant, she uses her skills to help people who are in the midst of their own personal story of grief and loss.