What is a Columbarium? Placement for Cremains

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National Free Planning Kit

December 13, 2016

Cremation is a common choice for those making end-of-life decisions. The choice of cremation, though, leads to another choice: what will be done with the cremated remains?

We’ve discussed other options for cremains, but today, let’s take a look at the option of a columbarium. As cremation increases in popularity, columbaria are becoming an increasingly common resting place for the cremains of loved ones. In this article, we’ll take a look at what columbaria are, what is needed for internment in a columbarium, and the benefits of being interned in a columbarium.

So, what is a columbarium?

The term columbarium actually originates from public structures in ancient Rome, which were created with compartmentalized roof structures in order to house birds.

Today, technically, a modern columbarium is any building that houses cremated remains. Many of today’s columbaria echo the compartmentalized design of those early buildings, with walls of compartments, called “niches”, that hold individual urns.

What is needed for internment in a columbarium?

Perhaps the most obvious item needed for internment in a columbarium is an urn.

Urns are decorative personal containers purposed for storing the cremated remains of loved ones. Often, they’re personalized to honor the legacy of the individual. Internment in a columbarium involves the placement of an urn into a niche – a second obvious component of the procedure.

Niches, as discussed, are the compartments within the columbarium. While most niches are designed to store individual urns, some columbaria also offer options for group internment, in which multiple urns are housed in a niche.

When selecting a niche in a columbarium, individuals will want to consider the level of the niche. Many families prefer for the niche to be at eye level, so that it will be easy to view as loved ones come to visit.

A memorial plaque is often the final element needed for interment in a columbarium. Many columbaria pace these on the exterior of the niche. Columbarium plaques function similarly to burial markers – they identify the name, dates of life, and personal information of the loved one whose remains are interned within.

What are the benefits of internment in a columbarium?

Internment in a columbarium has several notable benefits. Individuals who choose this option for the placement of cremains typically value the sense of elegance that columbaria convey. Additionally, choosing to be interned in a structure, as opposed to choosing to have cremains be scattered, allows for loved ones to have a dedicated place to visit. Having this place can be comforting to family and loved ones as they reflect on the life of the person who has passed.

Finally, being interned means that, no matter the season or weather, loved ones will be able to visit the site in comfort.

Making the Right Decision For You

We hope that this article has been helpful in informing your knowledge of columbaria as an option for placing cremains.

As you consider end-of-life options for yourself or a loved one, take the time to gather all of the information you’ll need to make the best decision. Are you unsure whether cremation, traditional burial, or another option is best for you? Get our free pre-planning kit to learn how pre-planning your burial can help to give you peace of mind.