Columbaria & Cremation Niches

When you choose cremation, you might be surprised to discover how many burial and memorial options there are. Although you have the option to keep an urn at home (or in multiple homes), we’ve discovered that many families want a permanent place to go remember their loved ones. A permanent memorial can be a touchstone to all who follow.

Cremation burial options range from in-ground burials in a family plot or small plots in a cremation garden to aboveground options like columbarium niches.

Find the right final resting place

Explore your many options with The Buyer's Guide to Cemetery Property.

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a room or building designed as a final resting place to house cremated remains. Columbaria are permanent structures with banks of cremation niches (similar to cubbyholes, but with secure fronts) that hold cremation urns. A columbarium can be large or small, private or public. Some columbaria have glass-front niches, which allow you to see the cremation urns and any personal artifacts placed with them. Other columbaria have granite-front or bronze-front niches that can be engraved or memorialized with a plaque.

A columbarium can be an indoor, climate-controlled environment or an outdoor garden environment. Columbaria can be part of a cemetery or a stately standalone structure. The buildings range from very simple to quite ornate, like our renowned San Francisco Columbarium.

Not all of these options are available everywhere, so it’s important to talk with a Dignity Memorial® professional about what you would like for your or your loved one's final resting place and what is available to you. We can walk you through each step of planning a funeral or burial.


Outdoor companion cremation columbaria monuments with yellow flowers at Pacific View Memorial Park.

Personalizing a cremation niche in a columbarium

There are 3 kinds of cremation niches: bronze front, granite front and glass front. All 3 options can be customized as a celebration of life, but only a glass-front niche allows for the display of personal treasures.


Granite-front cremation niche with bronze plaque and vase.

Bronze-front niches are sealed with a bronze front that can be engraved with details about a person, similar to a headstone. In addition to names and dates, consider a personal motto, a scripture or even song lyrics that fit your loved one’s personality and reflect the life he or she lived.


Flowers in a vase on a niche in a Mausoleum at Palm in Las Vegas.

Granite-front niches are sealed with granite. Fronts can be laser-etched with personal details or can have a bronze plaque with an inscription.


Glass-front niche containing an urn, peals and photograph at Ocean View Funeral Home and Burial Park.

Glass-front niches act as shadow boxes, allowing the contents of the niches to be seen. In addition to the cremation urn, families often display photos, jewellery, dried flowers, stuffed toys, notes and small trinkets that are reminders of their loved ones. Because glass doesn’t stand up to the elements as well as granite or bronze, glass-front niches are always inside a columbarium or mausoleum.

Other options for cremation memorials

A niche within a columbarium is just one option for memorializing a loved one who has chosen cremation. Whether you choose an aboveground or below-ground burial, a custom memorial is a lasting tribute to your loved one.

Cremation memorials include statuary, monuments, benches and more, and they are typically laser-etched with names, dates, verses, phrases or illustrations. A custom memorial can be placed near the site where someone is buried and is a permanent place for future generations to visit and remember a loved one.

Create a lasting legacy

Your life is one of a kind. Shouldn’t your final resting place reflect your special story? Choosing cemetery property is an important step in creating a family legacy, establishing a place of remembrance for future generations and paying tribute to a special life. The Buyer’s Guide to Cemetery Property answers all of your questions about this important decision, even if you choose cremation.


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