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The Urn, Reimagined As A Dildo Full Of Your Dead Spouse’s Ashes

This Dutch-designed cremation urn wants widows to recognize the role of masturbation in the grieving process.

Cremation urns usually only hold the ashes of a spouse. With his new work 21 Grams, Dutch designer Mark Sturkenboom reimagines the urn as an interactive memory box for widows. It doesn’t just hold the ashes of a departed spouse, but his scent, the moment he proposed, and even his favorite music. Oh, and not to bury the lede, it also contains a big glass dildo full of your spouse’s ashes.

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The 21 Grams memory box is made from hand-sanded wood, painted a pale gray and then locked with a brass key that a widow wears around her neck. When the lock is turned, the box unfolds to reveal a blown-glass dildo full of cremated ash, which can be used to revisit intimate memories of a deceased loved one. The box also contains a small ring holder for a widow’s wedding ring, which can be popped open to relive the moment of proposal, as well as a built-in perfume diffuser, which a widow is meant to fill with her spouse’s scent. A small drawer in the box can be used to hold keepsakes, while a built-in amplifier allows you to use the memory box as an iPhone dock.

The 21 Grams memory box gets its name from the widely discredited “research” of early 20th century physician Dr. Duncan MacDougall, who argued that the human body lost around 21 grams of weight (representing the soul) after a person died. In Sturkenboom’s project, 21 grams is the amount of ashes interred inside the glass dildo.


As a husband myself who dreads the idea of outliving his wife but also doesn’t want to leave her alone in life, I find myself strangely torn about 21 Grams. It seems almost like a tasteless joke at first blush, but according to the Utrecht-based designer, the inspiration for project is deeply rooted in respect for the grieving process, as well as the role of sex and masturbation within it. Sturkenboom says he was inspired to design his memory box after noticing the disconnect between the devoted, loving way an elderly widow of his acquaintance spoke about her dead husband, and the hideous monstrosity in which she stored his ashes.

“In that same period I read an article about widows, taboos, and sex and intimacy,” Sturkenboom told Dezeen. “Then I thought to myself: ‘Can I combine these themes and make an object that is about love and missing and intimacy?'”

You can find more information about the project here.

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