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Do I Have to Purchase an Urn from a Funeral Home?

Urn Storage in Mausoleum or Columbarium

The answer is a resounding No. You can purchase an urn from anywhere (online, a competing funeral home, a local artist) and bring it to the funeral home or crematorium. Legally, you may purchase a cremation urn anywhere and the funeral home cannot refuse or charge a fee to handle the urn of your choice.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, “the funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket [or urn] you bought elsewhere.” As they explain in the FTC’s Funerals: A Consumer Guide:

Most funeral providers are professionals who strive to serve their clients’ needs and best interests. But some aren’t. They may take advantage of their clients through inflated prices, overcharges, double charges or unnecessary services. Fortunately, there’s a federal law that makes it easier for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements pre-need or at need.


The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if you ask, over the phone. The Rule also requires funeral directors to give you other information about their goods and services. For example, if you ask about funeral arrangements in person, the funeral home must give you a written price list to keep that shows the goods and services the home offers. If you want to buy a casket or outer burial container, the funeral provider must show you descriptions of the available selections and the prices before actually showing you the caskets.


Many funeral providers offer various “packages” of commonly selected goods and services that make up a funeral. But when you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy individual goods and services. That is, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.

Beautiful Wood Companion Urns
One of our most popular designs, many couples purchase the “Together Again” companion urn from us and bring it in to the funeral home.

To summarize, according to the Funeral Rule:

  • You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
  • The funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list.
  • If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
  • A funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.
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Cremation and Funeral Terms

When a loved one dies, you suddenly find yourself making all sorts of difficult decisions about things you’ve never given a second thought – cremation or burial? Bury the urn or display it at home? If you bury, do you need an urn vault? What is an urn vault? Is it the same as a mausoleum niche?  

Here is a helpful glossary of cremation terms slightly expanded from the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau’s Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases:  

Casket/Coffin – A box or chest for burying human remains.

Cemetery Property – A grave, crypt, or niche.

Cemetery Services – Opening and closing graves, crypts, or niches; setting grave liners and vaults; setting markers; and long-term maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities.

Columbarium – A structure with niches (small spaces) for placement of cremated remains in urns or other approved containers. It may be outdoors or part of a mausoleum.

Cremains – The resulting bone fragments – ‘cremated remains’ – resulting from the cremation process.

Cremation – Exposing human remains and the container holding them to extreme heat and flame and processing the resulting bone fragments to a uniform size and consistency.

Crypt – A space in a mausoleum or other building to hold cremated or whole human remains.

Disposition – The placement of cremated or whole human remains in their final resting place. A Permit for Disposition must be filed with the local registrar before disposition can take place.

Endowment Care Fund – Money collected from cemetery property purchasers and placed in trust for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. The State monitors the fund and establishes the minimum amount that must be collected. However, the cemetery is permitted to collect more than the minimum to build the fund. Only the interest earned by such funds may be used for the care, maintenance, and embellishment of the cemetery.

Entombment – Burial in a mausoleum.

Funeral Ceremony – A service commemorating the deceased with the body present.

Funeral Services – Services provided by a funeral director and staff, which may include consulting with the family on funeral planning; transportation, shelter, refrigeration, and embalming of remains; preparing and filing notices; obtaining authorizations and permits; and coordinating with the cemetery, crematory, or other third parties.

Funeral Society – See Memorial Society, below.

Grave – A space in the ground in a cemetery for the burial of human remains.

Grave Liner or Outer Container – A concrete cover that fits over a casket in a grave. Some liners cover tops and sides of the casket. Other liners (vaults, see below) completely enclose the casket. Grave liners minimize ground settling on the cemetery grounds.

Graveside Service – A service to commemorate the deceased held at the cemetery prior to burial.

Interment – Burial in the ground, inurnment, or entombment.

Inurnment – The placing of cremated remains in an urn.

Mausoleum – A building in which human remains are buried (entombed).

Memorial Service – A ceremony commemorating the deceased without the body present.

Memorial Society – A consumer organization that provides information about funerals and disposition but is not part of the State-regulated funeral industry. May also be called a funeral consumer alliance.

Niche – A space in a columbarium, mausoleum, or niche wall to hold an urn.

Urn – A container to hold cremated human remains. It can be placed in a columbarium or mausoleum, or it can be buried in the ground.

Urn Vault – A grave liner that completely encloses an urn.

Vault – A grave liner that completely encloses a casket.

Water Disposition – The scattering of cremated human remains into the sea. A Permit for Disposition must be filed with the local registrar before disposition can take place.

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What to Engrave on an Urn Inscription

Standard Urn Inscrption Format:

In Loving Memory
John Doe
January 1, 1943 – December 31, 1999

Other first lines:

In Memorium

In Remembrance

In Fondest Memory Of

In Treasured Memory Of

In Honored Memory Of

In Cherished Memory Of

Happy Memories Of

Other epitaph date formats:

1/1/43 – 12/31/99

1/1/1943 – 12/31/1999

Jan. 1, 1943 – Dec. 31, 1999

1943 – 1999

Additional Lines:

Often a short epitaph, 2-15 words in length, will be engraved below the dates. See below for list of short epitaphs. The format would then look like this:

In Loving Memory
Jane Doe
January 1, 1943 – December 31, 1999
Faithful Wife, Loving Mother

Engraving a middle name:

John D. Doe

John David Doe

Engraving a nickname:

John “Jack” Doe

Bible Verses for Urn Inscription:

(For more Scripture verses fit for an epitaph, click here.)

Love is patient, love is kind.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

God is our refuge and our strength.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (ESV)

He gives His beloved sleep.

The Lord bless thee and keep thee;
The Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace.

And so we will be with the Lord forever.

We live by faith, not by sight.

Short Epitaph Poems for Urn Inscription:

You are not forgotten, loved one
Nor will you ever be
As long as life and memory last
We will remember thee

Memory is a lovely lane,
Where hearts are ever true,
A lane I so often travel down,
Because it leads to you.

His charming ways and smiling face,
Are a pleasure to recall,
He had a kindly word for each,
And died beloved by all.

A silent thought, a secret tear,
Keeps his memory ever dear.
Time eases the edge of grief,
Memory turns back every leaf.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Though absent you are very near
Still loved, still missed, and very dear

There is a link death cannot sever,
Love and remembrance last forever

Remembered always with love sincere
Memories keep him ever near

You still live on in the hearts and minds
Of the loving family you left behind

Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee

Short Epitaphs for Urn Inscription:

Loving Father, Husband, Brother, and Friend

Loving Mother, Wife, Sister, and Friend

Faithful and Loving Husband

Faithful and Loving Wife


Sadly Missed, Lovingly Remembered

Forever Remembered, Forever Missed

Safe In the Arms of Jesus

Asleep In Jesus

He, Being Dead, Yet Speaketh (Hebrews 11:4)

Absent From the Body, Present With the Lord

In God’s Care

I Know My Redeemer Lives

We Love You Always

He Loved and Was Loved

In the Cross of Christ I Glory

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Blessed Are the Dead That Die In the Lord

In His Keeping

In God’s Hand

Forever In Our Hearts

At Rest

At Peace

Though Gone From Sight To Memory Dear

Until We Meet Again

Safe At Last the Harbour Past

Forever In Our Thoughts

Rest In Peace

May He Rest In Peace

May She Rest In Peace

Much Loved

Peace At Last

— ~ —

At Urns Northwest, we offer engraving on nearly all of our wood urns. Click here for more information about our urn engraving

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In Loving Memory Bible Verses for Epitaph

Epitaph Bible Verses

Choosing a select few word to represent and memorialize the life of a loved one is a daunting task. When putting an inscription on an urn, or an epitaph on a headstone, the important features to look for in a quote are significance, brevity, and relevance.

If you would like to honor the faith of a loved one by inscribing a Scripture verse on the urn or headstone, the significance of the quotation is already inherent. After all, the Bible is the Word of God, and what could be more significant than the very breath of God?

As for brevity, below we have gathered a selection of brief and fitting Scripture verses for an epitaph. These verses are listed in the English Standard Version of the Bible, with links to the traditional King James Version (KJV, which uses words like “thee” and “thou” and verbs that endeth in “-eth”) as well as the popular and contemporary New Living Translation (NLT). These Bible verses will fit on most cremation urns and memorial headstones in a readable font size. If the verse sounds familiar but not quite the way you remember it, it may be that you have heard the verse before in the King James Version or some other translation.

The last feature that should be considered for a epitaph inscription is relevance to the individual’s life and faith. Only you and those closest to the deceased can determine this, so peruse these Scriptures with an eye toward the verse’s relevance to your loved one.

Epitaph Scriptures are listed below in the order that they appear in the Bible.

Epitaph Bible Verses

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Deuteronomy 6:4

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.
Psalm 40:4

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
– Psalm 46:1

Be still, and know that I am God.
– Psalm 46:10

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
– Psalm 91:1

The Lord is near to all who call on him.
– Psalm 145:18

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end.
Lamentations 3:22

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Matthew 5:8

…the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:22

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Well done, good and faithful servant.
Matthew 25:21

Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your master.
Matthew 25:21

Not my will, but yours, be done
Luke 22:42

Whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
John 3:15

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.
John 5:24

He…has passed from death to life.
John 5:24

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8:32

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
John 11:25

I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
John 14:6

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.
Acts 16:31

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.
Romans 8:28

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Romans 10:13

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
II Corinthians 5:17

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
Galatians 2:20

For by grace you have been saved through faith.
Ephesians 2:8

To live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
I John 4:16

God is love.
I John 4:16

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10

For laser engraving on our wood cremation urns, see here.

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Bible Verses for Memorial Service

Choosing an appropriate Scripture verse for a memorial service is a poignant way to honor the faith of a loved one and provide comfort for those who remain. Here is a selection of Bible verses for funeral services in the English Standard Version (ESV), with links for each verse in the traditional King James Version (KJV) and also the more modernized New Living Translation (NLT).

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
– Psalm 91:1-2

The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
Psalm 145:18-19

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
– Psalm 23

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
– II Corinthians 4:16-18

It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
– Philippians 1:20-23