Can Cremated Remains Be Divided Between Family Members?

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Alecia Milano
Posted by Alecia Milano on February 7, 2023

A common question we hear when families are purchasing a cremation urn is, “Can we split the cremated remains among multiple people?” And the answer is yes.

While there is no law that forbids the dividing of cremated remains, some families worry it may be going against their religion. Others may not realize the wide range of options they have when it comes to cremation memorialization.

Continue reading to learn more about dividing cremated remains and the unique cremation memorialization options available when dividing cremated remains among family.

What Does Dividing Cremated Remains Mean?

Historically, families would have to choose which surviving loved one would keep their lost loved one’s remains. Today, dividing cremated remains is common across many cultures. 

When cremated remains are divided, they're separated into several keepsakes that can be shared between family members. Following these steps will make for a seamless experience:

  1. Determine how many family members want cremated remains.
  2. Select your cremation memorials.
  3. Divide the cremated remains.

Top Concerns Families Have With Dividing Cremated Remains

Depending on your country of origin or religion, dividing cremated remains may not be acceptable. 

In most countries, there are no laws that prohibit the practice of dividing cremated remains. The government normally only gets involved when there is a dispute in the family regarding what will be done with the remains. If you’re unsure of the regulations your country might have on dividing cremated remains, we encourage you to consult with your local authorities.

5 Cremation Memorial Options For Divided Cremated Remains

1. Traditional Cremation Urns

A traditional cremation urn is what most families think of when they hear the word “urn.” It’s a tall, cylinder-shaped vase with a lid. When considering an urn, look for a provider with a large selection of decorated urns in a variety of sizes and styles.

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Traditional cremation urns can be placed in your home, recessed into other memorials, or buried at the cemetery. For families interested in separating their loved ones' cremated remains, different urn designs can be selected for each family member.

2. Benches with Recessed Urns

If your family wants some or all of their loved one’s cremated remains to be placed at their preferred cemetery, a bench memorial with recessed urn is a great option.


Bench memorials are made of granite, with or without a seatback, and come in a variety of colors, sizes and finishes. At Milano Monuments, our expert craftspeople make a hole in the bench, place the urn inside and seal everything back together. Benches with recessed urns can be personalized with an engraved name, quote, dates and other unique artwork.

3. Natural Granite Rocks and Boulders with Recessed Urns

Natural granite rocks and boulders have been formed by nature over thousands of years. To place an urn inside a granite rock or boulder, your memorial provider will cut a core hole in the stone, place the urn inside and then seal the hole. 


A flat surface can also be cut on the rock or boulder to engrave lettering or artwork. Alternatively, some families select an engraved plaque to be placed on the boulder. 

4. Cremation Jewelry

To keep a lost loved one close, some family members may choose cremation jewelry. Cremation jewelry not only acts as a reminder of a loved one, but contains a small portion of them in some way.

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A piece may include a small amount of cremated remains, while others add locks of hair, a small bit of paper from a meaningful note or a piece of fabric from a cherished garment. Whether it’s a necklace, bracelet, key chain, earrings or a ring, cremation jewelry is a great option to keep your loved one close to your heart.

5. Unique Cremation Urns

Unlike a traditional cremation urn, unique cremation urns come in a variety of different shapes. For example, you can choose from:

  • Mini cremation urns.

  • Custom boxes with an inscription written on the front.

  • Home decor (e.g. clock, flower vase, statue, floating shelf).

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When separating cremated remains, each family member can choose a keepsake that is special to their relationship with the lost loved one.

>>> Related Resource: 7 Cremation Memorials Explained

How To Divide Cremated Remains Between Family Members

There are three common ways to divide cremated remains between family members: asking your chosen funeral home or cremation memorial provider to separate them, or divide them yourself.

If you ask a provider to handle it, they will either divide them into your chosen keepsakes directly after the cremation takes place, or they will have you make an appointment to bring the cremated remains to the facility to be separated. 

If you prefer to do this yourself, follow these steps to successfully divide the cremated remains:

  1. Find a large, flat area to make the transfer. Use a plastic tablecloth to keep everything clean.
  2. Gather a few sealable bags to use for the separation. Write the names of who will be receiving cremated remains on the bags to ensure no one is forgotten.
  3. Open the temporary urn given by the crematory and take out the bag of cremated remains to be separated into sealable bags.
  4. Weigh each sealable bag to make sure they are appropriately portioned. Some cremation memorials, like cremation jewelry, require a small amount of remains while larger memorials may necessitate more.
  5. Make sure each bag is sealed, then double-bag them. You can place all the bags into a cardboard box to make for easy transportation to family members.

Place cremated remains inside the chosen memorial or keepsake. Keep in mind that some cremation memorials, like a memorial bench, will require an experienced cremation memorial provider. Other keepsakes, like a necklace, can be done personally, or with help from your jewelry or cremation memorial provider.

More Ways to Memorialize a Loved One After Cremation

Many families who choose cremation aren’t aware of the full spectrum of cremation memorialization choices. That’s why we put together our Cremation Memorialization Guide. Click here to download your free copy so you can better understand the extensive options available when it comes to cremation.

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Topics: Memorialization

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