When the day of the funeral and the flurry of activity that comes with it has passed, you may be left wondering what happens next – particularly if you’d like to do something memorable with your loved one’s ashes. Or maybe it’s a discussion you’re having now for a later time. As a celebrant for funerals, it’s something I get asked quite a lot so this is my scattering of suggestions.
Personally, I’d like my ashes to go up into the atmosphere because I love travelling and, in this way, I’d get to see the whole world. I had a little of my parents’ ashes made into glass which I had set into a ring. I love it because I feel like they’re always with me.
But these are a few things I know people commonly do with their loved one’s ashes:
● They take the urn with them wherever they go.
● Internment in a graveyard plot, which can be done with or without ceremony led by a minister or celebrant.
● Burial in a private garden.
● Scattering in a beautiful or memorable place (but please make sure you have the permission of the land owner first).
● Most crematoriums have a serene garden of remembrance, where ashes can be either buried or scattered. Like graveyard internment, this gives a formal space for people to come for a quiet moment, whenever they need to.
For the more adventurous, there are other options:
1. At sea
If the water was important to your loved one or holds a special place in your heart, then you might consider scattering their ashes at sea. There are companies that offer ceremonies on the water and although you don’t need a license to scatter ashes in this way, please be mindful of others around you, especially if there’s a breeze.
2. Make them into a reef
I think this is a beautiful idea. Solace Reef will form your loved one’s ashes into a ‘solace stone’ which will be laid to rest on the sea bed. This then becomes part of an artificial reef and the perfect way to create a living memorial for someone who loved life on or in the water.
3. A green and leafy goodbye
It’s in everyone’s interest to consider a green option but particularly if your loved one was passionate about caring for the environment.
Woodland burials and eco-conscious funerals are becoming more and more popular and there are many sites around the country that will allow you to turn ashes into a beautiful tree. The biodegradable urns are designed to melt into nature with little environmental impact and companies like Bios Urn incorporate a seed, so that the ashes nourish the tree, allowing it to flourish into a lasting green legacy.
4. Memories written on the skin
There’s nothing new about having a tattoo in memory of someone you’ve loved so that they are always with you but there are now studios that will take a little of the ashes and mix this with the ink before starting the artwork.
5. An uplifting farewell
Send your loved one on a journey to the edge of space. Ascension Flights use a helium balloon to take a biodegradable urn up into the atmosphere and once at the right height, it bursts, scattering the ashes from the sky.
6. A send-off with a spark
Fireworks have long been used to commemorate important occasions, so if your loved one enjoyed bright lights in the sky, think about letting them go with a bang. There are companies that can incorporate the ashes into fireworks that can become part of a spectacular display of love and remembrance.
7. A work of art
If you’re thinking of having a commemorative portrait painted, it’s possible to mix the ashes in with the paint.
Taking this one step further, German artist Heide Hatry who now lives in New York has become well-known for this kind of memorial art. A lasting and physical reminder of the person who has passed, she carefully layers the ashes into beeswax piece by piece before creating the likeness. Having created one such work of art to help her get over the death of a close friend, she now does commissions, the work often taking several months.
8. Memorial jewellery
Most of us have beloved items of sentimental jewellery that we wear all day every day. A beautiful way to remember a loved one is to use just a little of their ashes in a special keepsake to wear around your neck or wrist, or on your hand.
Whether you’d like a crystal bead, a fillable locket for ashes or a fingerprint memento, there are a number of decorative ways you can keep your loved one with you always – including a crystal heart you can wear on your sleeve. Search specialist jewellers to see what services they offer.
9. Spin them into a vinyl record
Choose the music they loved or put together clips of them talking or laughing and have them recorded onto a disk made of their ashes to keep forever. A Simplicity survey found that one in four young people would like to be memorialised this way.
British company And Vinyly create the perfect lasting legacy for music-lovers who want to keep on singing long after the music has stopped.
10. Cuddle them forever
When you need something to hold, a plush toy or a memorial bear can be comforting. These specially made toys have an opening at the back to allow you to insert a container of your loved one’s ashes, so they can still be close to your heart.
Whatever you choose to do, make it memorable but don’t make it onerous. Whether you’ve had the chance to have this discussion before death or you wait for a while afterwards to make up your mind, do things your own way and in your own time.
I’m a celebrant for weddings and naming ceremonies too. I work with couples, families and friends from all backgrounds, so I’ve plenty of tips to share on how to make your day go smoothly. Please get in touch for a chat.
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