I’m Daniel Szczesniak, owner and operator of (and author for) US Urns Online. I’ve been writing about the funeral industry for over a decade.

This website started as the customer resource website of Urns Northwest, the web’s premier cremation urn store since 2000. We launched as an informational blog in 2009 and have expanded to include thousands of resources.

Our highest priority is always providing the best information, the best service, and the best products in your time of grief.

Our Story

The story of US Urns Online is the simple tale of a small, family-run cremation urn company learning and growing to be the best in the industry.

In 2009, Shawn Oliveria, president and founder of Urns Northwest, launched USUrnsOnline.com with three articles: One describing how Urns Northwest started, another describing the advantages of USA-made cremation urns, and a third detailing how to open an urn.

Soon after, in 2010, Shawn hired me, Daniel Szczesniak, to manage the retail websites and handle customer service for the cremation urn company.

Prior to that job, I had never dealt with funerals, cremation, or even death in any meaningful way.

Like many of our readers, I had never even contemplated the many choices for funerals and final disposition.

I barely knew what cremation was, yet I was picking up the phone and facing questions from our cremation urn customers like:

I had to learn these things, and learn fast. So I spent all my free time (when the phone wasn’t ringing, which was often!) researching the answers to these questions.

I’ve always loved to read, so I read. I read everything on the shelf at the local library about funerals (393 on the Dewey Decimal System was my best friend for a season) and ordered the books that they didn’t have. Then I moved on to dying and grief (155.937) and Christian grief (248.866).

In those days, I wasn’t familiar with the internet either. After all, the smartphone was only a few years old and was only just beginning to have widespread use. So I learned how to research things online, going directly to funeral home websites for information and often calling and speaking with funeral directors.

I would regularly speak with funeral directors on sales calls in my customer service role, and almost always found some interesting new tidbit of information that I’d file away.

I was also speaking daily with dozens of people who were shopping for an urn. Usually this was just after a close family member had died, so I quickly learned that everyone grieves in their own way.

Every day was interesting. I’d pick up the phone and one person would be making lighthearted, mildly morbid jokes while the next caller would break down and I’d be searching for the right words to comfort them.

At the same time, I was adding new products to our online store. I would work directly with manufacturers, artists, glassblowers, woodworkers, and more to best understand the unique aspects of their cremation urns.

This provided me with much insight into how urns are made and used. I was often answering the same questions by phone and email, so I wrote a guide, which turned into 8 Things You Need to Know About Cremation Urns.

Combined with speaking directly with customers by phone and email every single day (often, customers who had experienced great help or great difficulty at the funeral home), I was able to glean enough information to write an article on 10 Things the (Shady) Funeral Home Won’t Tell You.

I had written a few other articles on US Urns Online to help generate interest in our products, including posts about interesting (aka weird) things to do with ashes and what to wear at a funeral.

After a few years, we noticed that this informational website was getting quite a few hits. So I began putting even more of what I was learning into article format.

I had developed expertise in:

As time went on, I continued to research and write, and this site grew from the original three articles into the internet’s most trusted source for independent funeral information with over 400 published resources, guides, and articles.

In 2018, I took over ownership of the website and brought in additional authors, editors, and contributors. I am proud to say that US Urns Online is the finest resource on the web for funeral information.

Our Team

Articles are written by cremation urn experts, funeral directors, eulogy writers, and others with personal experience of loss.

Daniel Szczesniak. Author, editorial oversight. With 10+ years of experience at Urns Northwest working directly with grieving families, funeral homes, funeral directors, and manufacturers of cremation urns, Daniel has an intimate understanding of the funeral industry. As an avid reader, Daniel has read widely on funerals, grief, theology, and history. He is a certified biblical counselor with ACBC and is currently pursuing a masters degree in Biblical Studies.

Karen Roldan. Author, funeral director. A graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, Illinois, with an Associate of Science Degree, Karen has been certified as a funeral director in multiple states and currently serves as the supervisor of the Direct Cremation division of Cremation Services of PA, Inc.

Aubrey Bauer. Author, professional eulogy writer. Aubrey is a graduate of Dallas Institute of Funeral Service, where she studied funeral directing, embalming and restorative art, counseling, grief psychology, composition, and public speaking as it relates to funeral service. She holds certifications in cremation arrangement (ICCFA), as well as burial at sea (NEBAS), and am a trained and certified birth and bereavement doula (SBD). Aubrey launched her professional eulogy writing service in 2019, Eulogies by Aubrey, which employs her full-time as a much-in-demand eulogy author.

Melyssa Williams. Author. The author of four novels and a collection of short stories, Melyssa is an accomplished professional writer. She has written for several magazines and online publications including Mary Jane’s Farm, Home Educating Family, Crosswalk, All Gifts Considered, Shepherd, and Well Planned Gal. Melyssa is known for being able to write creatively and sensitively about even the most traumatic and serious topics with her trademark humor and wit. You can learn more about her (and read more of her work) on her blog, MelyssaWilliams.com.

Editorial Policy

Our content is created by humans, for humans. Each article is carefully reviewed for accuracy, content, tone, and quality prior to publication.

Here is our writing process:

  1. For each article, our editorial team researches and organizes the most helpful points around which to build the content.
  2. We then turn it over to one of our professional writers, who personally researches and writes each piece.
  3. When writing is complete, the editorial team reviews for accuracy, relevance, and helpfulness.
  4. Once the article is formatted and published, we regularly return to it to review and update as needed.

About Urns Northwest

Urns Northwest began in 2000 when the company’s founder, Shawn Oliveria, created a website to sell the new urn products developed by his father’s woodworking company.

With a focus on people-first customer service, Urns Northwest has always stood apart from the competition by answering phone calls, emails, and chat messages with a personal touch. Urns Northwest offers their own line of cremation urns and personalized memorial gifts, and provides a platform for many USA-based artisans to sell their memorial urns to the public.