A columbarium niche is a final resting place for ashes after cremation. Niches are above ground and are most often built into a wall. The wall is made up of individual compartments that hold an urn containing the ashes of one individual. Columbarium niches are available at many cemeteries and some churches. The niches or compartments may be glass-enclosed, allowing the urn or container to be seen. An alternative design uses sealed stone cubicles very similar to a mausoleum. Sometimes the wall contains open niches. The columbarium wall may be contained in a building or may be free-standing outdoors.
The size of the Niche is usually a standard 9x9x9. This means the choice of urn is limited to something that will fit in the niche. Depending on the design of the columbarium, the choice of urn may be further restricted. There are some columbarium that are stunningly beautiful with glass niches backlit to enhance the display of ceramic urns.
Although cremated remains, or ashes, may be scattered in a location that was special to the deceased, there are laws. Each state regulates where ashes may be scattered. Sometimes scattering is not practical. Often scattering does not satisfy the need of family members to have a fixed location where they can go to remember. A columbarium niche provides a permanent resting place for cremated remains. The cost varies with location but generally speaking it is less than that of burial.
The choice to be cremated does not in any way dictate the type of funeral service that may be held. A full funeral service including visitation with the body present can be held prior to the body being cremated. The service may be faith based or a celebration of life or it may include both. The choice to cremate does require that an individual seriously consider the needs of their family when choosing among the many options regarding a final resting place for the cremated remains.