Everyone who’s lost a pet has had to make a decision about what to do with the body and/or cremains. One home-based business owner decided to provide affordably priced unique, artful urns for both people and pets.—Sid

Funeral urn sales fill a need

Home-based business offers wide selection of vessels at good prices

By Darron Kloster, Times Colonist October 16, 2010
Teresa  Westhead displays a selection of cremation urns she is selling as  part of a new home-based business.

Teresa Westhead displays a selection of cremation urns she is selling as part of a new home-based business.

Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist, Times Colonist

A Saanich woman’s frustrating search for suitable funeral urns for the remains of her mother-in-law and family pet took her to the other side of the world and head-first into an unusual home-based business.

Teresa Westhead started importing decorative urns from Indonesia and Vietnam earlier this year to give people an alternative to what she calls the often bland and higher-priced urns provided by funeral homes and the containers used by animal hospitals.

Eternal Vessel offers hand-made marble, ceramic and bamboo-lacquer designs that are affordable and blend in with home decor, said Westhead. She carries more than 25 styles of cremation urns — almost all of them selling for $99 or less — about a third of the cost of funeral home urns, said Westhead.

She is currently marketing her products on the web at http://www.EternalVessel.com

“Our father had difficulty finding an urn that was not hundreds of dollars and something that would reflect our mother’s taste and style,” said Westhead, a former paralegal. “After sharing our story with many people, we discovered there was an ongoing theme of frustration in locating a suitable urn or vessel for people’s loved one’s remains.

“Our vessels hide their true nature and allow you to keep your loved one close without the nature of the vessel being obvious to others.”

British Columbia leads all Canadian provinces in cremations at 78 per cent of all deaths, according to the Memorial Society of B.C. The national average is 56 per cent.

People are also increasingly providing funeral services for their pets, or at least having their remains cremated and stored in urns. A new pet funeral parlour is opening next month in Victoria providing various services, including cremations.

The death of Westhead’s dog, Bitta, a rescued giant schnauzer who died at age 12, helped to spur her quest. When the family pet’s ashes were returned in an animal hospital urn, “we were disappointed, to say the least,” said Westhead. “The urn that was provided was not something we would place in our home. She sat hidden in our basement for several years.”

Westhead said buying a funeral urn online can be helpful to families coming from different parts of the province, country or world. “They can all have a say in what’s chosen before the funeral,” she said.

Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/life/Funeral+sales+fill+need/3681231/story.html#ixzz12Y4vtDBR