Creating something special to represent your loved ones when you don’t want “an urn.”
This story was written for us by our customer, and we are pleased to share it with you. We hope it helps inspire you on your journey of grief, acceptance, and celebration of the life of your loved ones.
My father was a very logical guy, and he was very straight forward when talking to us about his death. I remember him always saying “Burn me up and spread me around” and “don’t you dare waste money on an expensive funeral for me” in his bigger than life voice and comical attitude. My dad was a great guy! Unfortunately, he suffered from chronic pain for many years. The pain resulted in his inability to be active, which led to an early death. He was just 46 years old when he died of complications from the flu years ago. It was a very hard time for my mom, sister, and myself. While we knew what his wishes were, it was very difficult to handle the arrangements. Thankfully, my husband stepped up and handled it all for us – including honoring my dad’s wishes and “cremating on a budget.” I still laugh every time I think of my dad saying that!
While we didn’t purchase a fancy urn for my dad, we did spread his ashes in the desert where he grew up, and we purchased 3 keepsake pendants – one each for my mom, my sister and me. They were little “mini urns,” containing a small portion of dad, with a chain to wear as a necklace. I wasn’t sure what to do with mine and it ended up staying tucked away in its box for 16 years. Not much of a memorial or remembrance of my dad at all.
A few months ago, my mother became ill and my sister and I began to think about what we would do when her time came. It was a difficult conversation, but I’m glad we did it. I didn’t want another odd bit of jewelry that I would never wear, didn’t want to plan anything while grieving, and all we really knew was that we wanted to spread her ashes with dad.
The location we spread my dad’s ashes has a lot of sentimental value to the entire family. It’s a beautiful spot in Tucson, Arizona, where my mom and dad hiked just below Finger Rock – a landmark that my dad pointed out to us every time we were driving around town. Seeing it always reminds me of the times we sang in the car, joked about whatever was going on, and the trips to see grandparents across town. To me, and my sister, that spot represents our parents, their love for us, and our love for them. That’s what I wanted to have to remember my parents.
How we created a custom memorial
I discussed the idea of creating a mini diorama urn with Melody over at Une Belle Vie. I told her my story, and we worked with her artists to create an absolutely amazing keepsake for my parents. I really thought my request would be over the top impossible. I wanted three identical pieces that fit the following criteria:
- they had to somehow incorporate the pendant
- have a place for some of mom’s cremains
- had to look like the Tucson desert, preferably the location we spread their ashes
- it couldn’t look or feel like an urn
- they had to be small
- incorporate a road runner (my mom’s favorite desert animal)
After talking over some options with Melody, I drew up a sketch and she took it from there. I had no idea how she would fit all of that into something so small, but she did!
The keepsakes (we had three of them made) are absolutely perfect. They aren’t too big, so we can keep them near each day (mine sites on my desk)… I feel like I’m with mom and dad every time I see it!
The artist created a replica of the desert with a place to put our mini keepsake urn pendants, and even included the road runner! Best of all, they thought about how the urn would “live” in a house and put the entire landscape beneath a glass bell jar to keep it from getting dusty and to prevent accidental damage to the pieces. I honestly didn’t expect them to be as amazing as they are.
The urns provided extra comfort for mom.
Of the three keepsakes, one will remain with me, one went to my sister (she keeps hers on the kitchen window sill), and we gave the third to my mom. I was very anxious and worried about giving it to her. I didn’t want to make her relive the grief of losing her husband, but I wanted her to know that no matter what, she would always be with us and when her time comes, she will be with dad again. When I presented the “urn” to her, she wept with joy. She keeps hers in plain sight and cherishes it each and every day. It provides her with comfort, and I hope it helps her embrace the thought of one day leaving us and returning to the desert with my dad. Their spirits will always be with us, and now we have a physical item to cherish and remind us of the times we had together.
Thank you for helping me with this project. We will cherish our keepsake deserts for always, K.C.
If you would like to create a custom memorial for your loved one, reach out to us and we’ll help you start the simple process. We look forward to hearing your stories and learning about the beautiful lives of your loved ones.