It can be incredibly difficult to decide what to do with a loved one’s remains, especially if they were your child. You want to make the best choice for their resting place. While you may have heard about cremation a thousand times, you may now know exactly what it is or how it works. To help you make this tough decision during your time of grief, we’ll help you understand a little more about the process before you choose what to do with your baby’s ashes.
While you may have read or heard lots of stories about the history of cremation, one thing is for sure: this practice started over two millennia ago. Yet somehow, it always comes to us as a mystery. After all, we never really get to see what goes on after the body enters the chamber. But understanding cremation more can help relax your imagination and feel more comfortable with the idea.
Nowadays, crematories make use of industrial furnaces called retorts, which are chambers specifically designed for the process. The whole routine takes around two to three hours, but before that, the crematory will first ensure that the body has been properly identified and authorised for cremation and that it is placed in an appropriate container, such as a casket or rigid cardboard. They will also see to it that the deceased is treated with the utmost care and respect and that the operator is safe.
After the cremation, the remains will be pulverised, thus turning them into ashes, and placed in a container known as an urn. In most cases, the family of the departed will be permitted to view the cremation, but space is usually limited and the family may have to work with the facility on how many people may be allowed.
Cremated remains are referred to as “ashes,” but they are technically particles of the body mixed with equally fragmented remnants of the container and other byproducts of the combustion. When a baby is cremated, it produces about 88 cubic inches of ashes, depending on their size as well as the specific technique used by the crematory.
Cremation vs. Burial
Cremation and in-ground burial both act on the body but in unique ways. Cremation is essentially the application of heat, while a burial affects the body through decomposition.
You may have to consider a few things when deciding between the two, such as cost, family and religious traditions, and other factors that may be unique to you. After all, there’s no one else who can make the best decision for your sweet little one but you.
There are many reasons why cremation is highly favoured by families who’ve lost their angels. First, it gives them more options for managing their grief. As opposed to burial, cremation lets them keep their beloved close by in an urn, memorial jewellery, or in place that’s meaningful to them.
Another reason is cost-effectiveness. Compared to a traditional burial, cremation does not require cemetery fees, headstone charges, a casket and gravesite, and so on. Of course, there’s the obvious benefit of environmental friendliness.
There’s no need to purchase a plot of land because, unlike a burial, and the precious baby’s cremains will be portable. If the family ever decides to move, they will never have to leave a part of them behind.
What to Do With Your Baby’s Ashes
If you just lost your little bundle of joy and are thinking of cremation, there are plenty of choices to consider, giving you more control with your healing and moving on.
One common option is to interr your baby’s ashes in a permanent location, like a cemetery, a columbarium, or private land. If you’re religious, this should be a good way to continue the tradition of giving human ashes a safe and permanent place to rest.
Direct cremation for an infant allows you to plan your memorial service or celebration of life with your dear one’s ashes. You can design the ceremony any which way you prefer and anytime and anywhere instead of in the crematorium.
Scattering of Ashes
By far the most popular option yet in the UK is to scatter cremains, usually somewhere important to the departed or their family. While this sounds simple, it requires quite a bit of planning too. For example, you probably won’t want to do it in a busy area, and you may want this time to be very solemn. You might choose a quiet place where there’s only you, people close to you, and your baby’s ashes.
The good news is there are professional services that can do the planning for you. One important reason to hire them is the fact that they’re knowledgeable and experienced about clear-cut laws and guidelines that must be followed.
For example, in the UK, you may not scatter ashes on land if you don’t have the landowner’s permission or are violating particular environmental policies that apply. So who decides where or how you may scatter your beloved’s cremains? In the UK, this job is generally reserved for the funeral director or the signatory in the cremation application form. Generally, there are a few places in the UK where you can lay your baby to rest.
The Family’s Gravesite
This is probably the most obvious place where your baby’s cremains can be scattered without posing any issues if you own exclusive burial rights to it. Otherwise, you may need to renew a lapsed contract or ask the new owner for consent.
Body of Water
Scattering your loved one’s ashes in the water won’t need a license or permission from anybody. However, you need to follow some very strict guidelines of the Environmental Agency, such as making sure everything scattered with the ashes is biodegradable, and that you are at least one kilometre upstream of water collection sites.
You must also be far enough from beaches and other places where people swim, and make sure to scatter the cremains on a temperate day, holding the urn not too far from the water so the ashes don’t get blown into your faces.
As long as you have the landowner’s consent, there’s no reason not to go ahead and scatter your baby’s ashes on private land. Just remember that if and when the owner decides to sell the property or rent it out, you may have problems getting access.
National Trust Land, Natural Parks, and Public Land
You won’t usually have a problem scattering your loved one’s cremains in a natural trust land or natural park in the UK, provided you seek permission from the site manager, don’t leave any markers or tributes on the scattering site, and leave the area exactly as it was when you came.
Also, while public land (for example, the village greens) is no one’s property, you still need to ask for permission before scattering ashes there.
Scattering your beloved’s ashes on a mountaintop sounds attractive. Although, conservation-wise, it wouldn’t be such a great idea. Human ashes have minerals in them that can disrupt the natural plant ecosystem in mountaintops, but according to experts, it’s fine to do that in a good spot on the way up. You and your baby would even have more privacy.
Sports Grounds and Stadiums
You can no longer scatter ashes in most sports grounds and stadiums these days, but in some of them, you can do it in specifically designated memorial grounds within the perimeter. In most cases, the more popular the site is, the less likely you’ll be allowed to scatter ashes.
Creative Options for Scattering Ashes
Families nowadays like to be creative and adventurous with their departed’s ashes, and again, it’s probably part of diffusing their sorrow and helping themselves cope. If you belong to this group, here are some options you can look into:
If you are passionate about the sea, you can immortalise your baby by making them a part of it as coral. There are companies that convert human ashes into concrete reefs to serve as a habitat for ocean creatures.
You might want to put your little one’s cremation ashes into one of her favourite teddy bears or any cuddly toy that you can keep close to you, knowing she’s right there inside and very close to your heart as always.
Tree or Plant
Nature lover? Why not get an urn that you can mix with other soil nutrients to grow a tree? One day, when the tree is tall, you can sit under your baby’s shade. Or you could improvise by planting something in a pot so you can take her with you anywhere.
Besides placing your baby’s ashes inside a cuddly toy, you can also make it into sculpting material and have her image honoured through a cute sculpture. Certainly one of the best ways to keep your angel very close and cherished for life.
Another great idea is to put your baby’s ashes in a large, helium-powered balloon, which, upon reaching about five miles high, will explode and offer the cremains to the wind. If you use a special, high-altitude balloon, your dear one can reach up to the edge of space!
Also popular is wearing cremains as jewellery by keeping them in a locket and hanging them around your neck. You can even make your own sparkling diamond using her ashes. It’s a more expensive option, the results would be beautiful.
What better way to keep your baby’s memory alive than with a sweet sound you can hear often. You can have their ashes made into bright and vibrant glass wind chimes that can be hung in your garden or window. Every time the wind blows, you’ll feel them with you.
One of the more unique ways of creating a special memorial for your child is by putting her ashes in the base of a birdbath for your garden. Even if you’re not a birds fanatic, it’s a heartwarming way to celebrate your dear one’s life, and you can even help out the wildlife around you.
Very popular today is creating art using the ashes of a beloved. You can have your baby’s images painted on canvas using her cremains mixed into art materials like beeswax. Hang the painting out there for everyone to remember her by each day.
This will let you wear your heart on your sleeve, literally. There are tattoo artists who specialise in using custom ink that contains ashes, so this is just another perfectly special way of keeping your darling inside you.
Now if you want something extraordinary, you can include your baby’s ashes into a playable vinyl record of the family’s favourite songs. You can play it all you want, filling your home with music and memories.
Making a Decision
No matter what you decide to do with your angel’s ashes, don’t rush. But remember that this is a decision that’s okay to make even when you’re grieving. This may even be the best time to make your decision because you’ll be so in tune with your heart, and you can make a decision that reflects how you really feel. Your little one may be physically gone, but they can live on symbolically in whatever way you want.
However, don’t feel pressured into doing something that you’re not interested in. Sometimes, well-meaning friends and relatives make suggestions that aren’t in sync with what you want, even if you’re still not sure what that is. For example, if your faith keeps you from the more unconventional options, like the scattering of ashes, then so be it. Keep your baby’s ashes at home with you in an urn or a crematorium, if that’s what will give you peace and strength as you grieve.
Once you do come up with a plan, don’t hesitate to bring in a pro if you need one. Many people do when the pain of the loss is so overwhelming that they can’t plan the cremation themselves.
Of course, not all crematories and crematory services are created the same. Take your time finding the right one, which means you’ll probably want to do a bit of research. This is a very delicate time in your life and you want it to go as smoothly as possible for your family and to honour the life of your beloved baby.