With the cremation rate in the UK steadily rising to well over 75%, there is an increased need for personalized memorials. Fortunately, ideas on what to do with ashes have also been on the rise to meet demand.
If you feel confused about what to do with the ashes, the following is a curated list of 19 things to do with the cremated remains of a loved one.
Keeping Ashes in an Urn
The most basic option is to preserve the cremation remains in an urn. If keeping the cremains at home, it is recommended that you find a room where mutual memories were made. This might impact your choice of the urn as you wouldn’t want the urn to appear out of place.
The material used should fit with the room’s decor. Considering that many urn materials are fragile, you would do well to find a location with low traffic to avoid an accidental drop. Creating a memorial space is a great way to remember one who is dearly beloved.
The memorial space could have pictures, accomplishments, or any other keepsakes that detail the life of the deceased. Ash caskets and urns can be made from a wide range of materials.
What to put them in
There are lots of options for urn designs and materials. Ashes can be kept in naturally made urns such as wood, marble, stone, or intricately designed metal urns.
Urns Made from Natural material
Whether polished or hand-carved, wood urns present a warm look and finish. Built from hardwood like maple or teak, these caskets can be built into customized shapes and decorations. The beautiful natural looking urns commonly use sliding bar catches or brass locks to keep the ash secure.
Marble provides a premium looking urn that, similar to wood, can be formed into unique designs. As with other natural materials, no two marble urns are identical – each has a different grain. Additionally, colouring may appear different if cut from different blocks.
Suitable for indoor or outdoor urns, stone urns have been in use for as long as civilization itself has existed. These handcrafted or lathe cut pieces can be decorated to suit the individual’s personality, and engraved. Stone presents us with the durability of marble and the versatility of wood and can be perfectly integrated with other materials.
Made by highly skilled artisans, metal urns are more popular and traditional around the world. They are regularly made from moulded brass or silver and engraved with decorations. Outdoor urns can also be sculptured from stainless steel. Moreover, they have an oxide coating to enable them to withstand the elements.
For most traditional uses, the above-listed urns should suffice. However, there are many other creative designs and materials that fully match an individual’s character and taste. Some unique designs have included cold cast resin motorcycle urn and a handcrafted toolbox urn.
Bury the Cremation Ash
Keeping ashes is not for everyone. Some for religious purposes are not allowed to have their ashes kept at home or scattered near the home – as is the rule set out by the Vatican. If planning to bury the ash, it is recommended that you choose an environmentally safe urn. These include urns made from wood, hand-woven willow, stone, corn starch, wool or other natural materials.
Some biodegradable urns are made from materials that even allow family members to write farewell messages on the urn itself before being interred.
There are numerous ways one can be buried at sea. Biodegradable urns are available and are designed to keep afloat for a period before slowly descending, providing the family enough time for their goodbyes. These urns are commonly made out of soluble salt, paper, plant extracts and sand.
Also growing in popularity is to give the departed family member a scattering ceremony on the water. The farewell ceremony can be conducted either at sea or on a lake when waves are calm.
Though the term could be interchanged to columbarium niche, ash vault or others, this is a commercially available space that offers safe storage of the cremation urn. Sacred Stone provides such niches. The Good Funeral award-winning facility differentiates its niches to other memorial gardens by having the Sacred Stone niche carved out by hand.
Though some commercial niches are large enough to be used by more than a single generation, most are categorized as a family niche that allows a family of five members to share a niche.
Burials do not need to be in an exotic location. Ashes can be interred in traditional burial sites such as in the small graves found in almost every cemetery or parish yard. Some will also opt to bury the ashes in their private gardens. If however, you intend to sell the estate in the future, keep in mind that you may not be able to visit the site after its sale.
Cremation ashes can be buried directly into the ground. Nonetheless, it is more common to have them interred in an urn, as is the practice in burial plots. Less common though is to have the ashes placed in a coffin for a traditional burial. Still, this is a viable way to bury a loved one.
Scattering ashes is an ideal way of celebrating an outdoor lover. Although you cannot scatter ashes everywhere in the UK, it is worth noting that laws on ash scattering quite permissive. In the UK cremated ashes can be scattered almost anywhere provided one obtains permission from the landowner. Additionally, you will need to check with the local environmental guidelines.
If a scattering location had not been earlier selected by the deceased, then the next of kin usually decide where to scatter them. Should a dispute by the next of kin arise as to how the cremation ashes should be scattered, they can instead divide up the ashes and have each member choose where best to scatter them.
Here are a few tips for when you’re considering scattering ashes. If you need to travel to a scattering location, avoid checking in the cremation remains while flying. Instead, carry the ash as hand luggage. This will lower the chances of a disruption that may be brought about by baggage loss.
When the time comes to have the ash scattered, do not be in a hurry. Take time to judge the direction of the wind. You must remain upwind as ashes do blow backwards and may end up on the funeral attendees. Also, carry water to the scattering location, especially when done on land. Ash tends to stick to skin and water will allow ensuring that you scatter all the ash at the site.
It is best to choose locations that would offer comfort to you and assist you in reflecting on the deceased. Some popular ash scattering farewells are described below.
Using a drone, a set of ashes can be scattered in a sky burial with the entire send-off filmed for post burial viewing. This option provides a lot of flexibility. The remote-controlled drone release even allows for the release of remains, mixed with wildflower seeds. Popular release sites have included hillsides, woodland areas and moorland. You also have the option of having the remains flown over sites that are relevant to the deceased and the event filmed as part of the memorial ceremony.
Another alternative to drones is scattering from a plane. This form of aerial scattering has a wider geographical spread over the chosen area. Subject to CAA regulations and permissions, Fly a Spitfire can disperse ashes from a spitfire while flying over a funeral for an unforgettable ceremony.
Giant helium-filled balloons offer a slow, graceful rise into the heavens for cremation ashes. Eternal Ascent places cremated ash into a biodegradable balloon once they process the remains. The five-foot balloon is then inflated on the chosen scattering site before being released.
The balloon then lifts to about 30,000 feet before scattering the cremated remains. These are carried by the winds into the atmosphere. The company thankfully prepares a Photificate, which is a photo collage and a brief history of the deceased.
Rivers, lakes and oceans have been used for funeral ceremonies for ages. However, unlike a water body burial, one need not obtain prior licenses or permissions for the event.
The Environmental Agency has nonetheless come up with several guidelines for such an event such as only using biodegradable wreaths and urns, keeping a minimum of one kilometre upstream from swimming areas, marinas, or water collection stations, and holding the urn as close to the water as possible on a clam day. Bring with you flowers to scatter alongside ash.
Probably the least complex way for a family or funeral director is to scatter ash in a churchyard, cemetery or other selected burial sites. Most of these areas have memorial gardens where such an event can be held. Just be sure to get permission from the cemetery manager. In areas designated as family gravesites, you can scatter ashes as long as you have exclusive burial rights on the property.
With the popularity of cremation increasing, many sporting venues are opening their doors to ashes being scattered on their grounds. These have included golf courses, football stadiums, racing courses among others.
You can request your funeral director to get in touch with the deceased favourite team to see if they allow scattering of ash on their grounds and to get permission. Some, such as the Queens Park Rangers, hold ceremonies in remembrance of their fans that have died. It is at this time that they allow cremation ashes to be scattered on the ground.
It is important to note that a visitor may not be allowed to visit the site again in future.
A fitting farewell for an adventurous spirit, a member of the family can carry the cremated ash and witness them being released into the wind miles above the ground. Skydiving companies that offer the service can have the ashes released over specified landmarks and have the event filmed.
For some who find it difficult to witness the event can entrust the ashes with the skydivers to release them in a dignified and respectful way. Once the entire crew is safely on the ground, raw footage of the exercise can be viewed.
Similar to other high atmosphere release ceremonies, these ashes are carried by winds to form part of the atmosphere.
If budget allows, you can take the ashes of a globetrotting individual around the world for one last trip. In every country in your itinerary, be sure to pre-select cities where you will not only visit but also scatter ashes. Also, if the person had a desire to visit a particular country, but never had the opportunity, scattering their ashes in the country would be an excellent way to lay them to rest.
Ashes in space and a few other companies offer a breathtaking, technologically advanced, send off by taking your loved one’s ashes to the edge of space on their Aura flights. From there, the ashes are released into this serene environment and carried off by stratospheric winds.
In a few weeks, they become part of the earth’s atmosphere and fall back to earth in the form of raindrops or snow. The entire journey is captured on film from multiple angles.
In reality, you can find even more regions that fit yours and your loved one’s wishes almost anywhere. Woodlands and mountain tops nearby would be great locations to hold an ash scattering service.
Moving farther still, Celestis Memorial Spaceflights turn space travel into a reality for loved ones. Their service allows cremated remains to be launched as far as the lunar surface as part of a ride-along during other space missions. As such, flights may be limited. The next flight is scheduled for 2022.
No matter how you decide to scatter the ashes, do not scatter them without obtaining prior permission. In 2016, the New York Lincoln Center had to cancel a performance when an unidentified individual scattered remains right onto the orchestra pit.
Loved ones can have a unique send off by incorporating cremation remains in fireworks for scattering. We offer that service and can arrange to have technicians present as part of a spectacular firework tribute. Alternatively, they also provide self-fired fireworks when holding the event at a different location in private.
Ashes to Memorial Diamonds
Though not the most budget-friendly thing to do with ashes, making cremation diamonds has become a popular way of keeping loved ones close. Companies such as Algordanza, Lonite, and others use about 200g of cremation ashes to extract enough carbon that can be crystallized to create diamonds in about six to nine months.
Different combinations and hair allow customization of the diamond’s size and colour. Excluding some of the diamond formation elements allows one to choose the exact colour they would like. Size range for these diamonds lies between 0.25 to 2.00 carat. Size, in turn, will affect the cost and how long it will take to make the memorial diamond.
Popular shapes or cuts include emerald, Asscher, radiant, princess, heart and brilliant-cut for brilliance. By altering the two elements, baron and nitrogen contained in ash, colours range from blue (more baron) to amber (more nitrogen). A colourless diamond is formed by removing the two elements. These can then be set into your favourite jewellery at a later date.
Other Custom Memorial Jewellery
Other than diamonds, keepsakes can also be made of other forms of jewellery. This can also be used to set your diamond in. There are craftsmen all around the UK that handcraft cremation jewellery. Each piece is personal to the jewellery wearer, ushering in a modern method of keepsakes. Bracelets, pendants, rings, necklaces and earrings will all require only a small amount of ash in their making.
There are two ways of doing this. First, you can mix the ash into the keepsake materials physically or store small amounts in locket like jewellery.
Whether made of rhinestone, glass or other elements, a silver framing is used to hold them in place. This ensures that it is as durable and remains in the family for as long as possible.
Cremation remains can also be encapsulated in beautifully patterned glass paperweights. Coming in varied shapes, colours and sizes, these paperweights are much easier to keep close to you, even in your workspace.
The partially lead crystal memorial glass only needs a teaspoon of the ashes to make. The rest is returned. The result is a glass weight that sparkles beyond the regular glass. To give it a personal touch, consider engraving a dedication, prayer, dates, or your personalized message. Favoured shapes have included round, heart and bullet.
Another amazing thing that cremation ash can do is make about 240 pencils. The manufacturer could even engrave the deceased person’s name or dates and have the pencils packaged in an attractive box.
This makes for an ideal and practical keepsake that can be used and shared by all family members for a long time.
3D Print out
In our increasingly digital world, new alternatives for keeping memories of loved ones seem to emerge regularly. It is now possible to have a 100% custom made urn, 3d printed.
These have included likeness busts of the deceased and vases. However, a good majority has opted for printed jewellery that they could wear in remembrance of their loved ones. Jewellery 3D print out memory keepsakes only requires a small amount of ash allowing larger families to choose from a near endless list of creative 3D commemorative pieces.
Memorial Hour Glass
Tying in concepts of life, death and time, we can construct an hourglass from hand-blown glass and beautifully crafted wood.
Now, due to the nature of cremains, the hourglass cannot be accurately timed. Their consistency prevents this. Nonetheless, the keepsake creates a beautiful memorial that can be passed down as an heirloom. The keepsake can be engraved with the deceased details too.
Commemorative Coral Reef
Were they sea-loving, nature enthusiasts? Presently, they can be part of nature by having their ashes turned into beautiful coral reefs.
By filling a reef-looking mould with a mix of cremation ashes and cement, replica reefs can be made. Once sunk, the artificial reef becomes a permanent home to aquatic life as time passes. Solace Reef is probably the best-known location for these living memorials in the UK.
Other versions of the reefs have the entire reef made from cement. The reef then has chamber left to hold an urn with the ashes.
Both methods also allow a plaque to be attached to the reef that can be seen by future divers. This would be a good funeral for one whose life revolved about marine activities.
Cremation Ash Art
Memorial tattoos are quite common. Memorial tattoos with cremation ash ink is a new trend that similarly seems to be catching on. The process entails tattoo grade ink being infused with cremation ashes to create an artistic reminder.
International companies that offer the service allow worldwide delivery so that you can still have your tattoo done by your preferred studio artist. This is probably the most permanent and closest way of keeping your dearly departed near on this list.
In keeping with art, ashes too can be incorporated into most of the major art mediums used in painting. Suitable for any home, these unique works of art may not only be stunning to look at but can also provide you with a visual reminder of a loved one.
They need not be portraits as even abstracts can capture the raw essence of a dearly departed. Most of these paintings are done in high-quality oil paints, though one can request for a different medium from the artist.
Ashes into Stained Glass
Stained glass specialists are now able to fuse cremation remains into coloured glass panels. A popular way of doing this is to have the ashes held in place between two separate glass pieces. These coloured panels are then used to construct a memorial panel.
The memorial panel can be displayed in a free-standing frame, or be functional as a window panel.
Yet another beautiful method of commemorating loved ones is to have their ashes added to a sculpture. We have artists on hand to help you create an indoor or outdoor sculpture made from a mixture of materials and cremation ash.
Other than ornamental pieces, Casting Ashes can use the mix to make more practical items that can be used around the house such as candle holders or lamps.
Growing a tree from ashes offers a way of having a living memorial. In a biodegradable urn, ash can be mixed with compost, and wildflower seeds added. As they germinate and begin to grow, they absorb nutrients from both the ash and compost. In time, the urn made from natural materials breaks down in the soil where the wildflowers are planted.
Alternatively, a memorial tree sapling in soil mixed with some ash may be sought. It may also be ideal to have a memorial marker close to the tree or flower bush. Again, this would be a good way to remember someone who tried to live in an environmentally friendly way.
Memorial Bear & Other Stuffed Toy
Memorial bears and other stuffed toys that available from online stores have a secure Velcro closed-opening at the back. Cuddly and soft, these bears allow access to an internal compartment where small amounts of ashes of a loved one can be kept. To avoid the ash from escaping from within the bear, they should be sealed in a separate plastic bag.
Care should be taken in homes with children as this is not a toy. An additional ribbon is packaged with the bear and whose colour can be selected by the user to suit their preference.
Vinyl records are a unique way of honouring a beloved member of the family. Andyvinyl allows a small portion of the cremation ash to be sealed in a vinyl record. The bespoke record can have a twelve-minute recording of your dearly beloved or one of their favourite tunes pressed into it.
We often describe those around us as sources of inspiration and as beacons of light. Nurn is a company that was inspired by the abbreviation LIT (Lux In Tenebris). This is Latin for light in the dark. In regards to this, the company has a product that allows you to continue celebrating the life of a loved one with the eternal symbol for life – fire.
LIT is a candle holder that has a bottom screw-locked chamber for holding cremation ashes. With the top preserved for the candle, you can light the candle in remembrance of a loved one.
Butterfly Glass Memorial Keepsake
Our creators are able to make beautiful small elegantly designed cremation remain keepsakes crafted from high-quality materials, the lamp features a stained glass mosaic for the butterfly’s wings and a copper body and base. At its base, the lamp has a storage compartment to hold the ash.
The comforting nightlight is sturdy, but due to its small stature, it only holds about half a teaspoon on ash. The Tiffany glass look softens the light so that the lamp produces a soft illumination. As non-traditional urns, they can suit virtually any living space.
Holy Smoke, An Alabama based business, is now making it possible to celebrate the outdoor individual by tuning cremation remains into live rounds. Once the family decides on a suitable ammunition type, the company then proceeds to take some of the ashes and incorporate them into the ammunition. A pound of ashes is sufficient for up to 250 fully functioning bullets. Though they can be loaded and shot, it might be better to keep these bullets with you for decorative and commemorative purposes.
Décor Casting and Everyday Ceramics
A more discreet way to keeping cremation ashes in your home, as opposed to keeping an urn, is to have the ashes turned into a pebble by one of our artists. Easily blending into your living space as part of minimalist décor, touchstones are a good way of keeping loved ones close without raining a brow. These smooth yet textured pebbles can be a source of comfort when held.
A more portable pebble can also be created. Referred to as a companion pebble, it can snuggly fit into the palm and carried along when needed. To keep them safe, companion pebbles are shipped with a mother bowl where they can be kept when not being carried. The setup forms an appealing décor piece, especially when paired up with a candle.
For the nature enthusiast, casting their cremation ashes into a life-sized cone, complete with pine cone grooves would spark memories of long walks in the park and fresh woodland scents. This large cone fits well in your hand too.
Not all décor pieces need to be handheld. Some would prefer to have a flat tile, which is wall-mountable. It can bear symbolic designs or may be constructed to suit one’s taste. Also popular are the animal designs, where one can choose animals that match a personality type.
Keeping ashes of a loved one close is also made easier by having them incorporated in ceramics for everyday use. A number of artisans have been incorporating cremation remains in the ceramic mix to create one of a kind ceramic pieces. From coffee mugs to plates, there is almost no limit to what can be created from this china clay mix.
The ideas discussed in this article are not a complete list but are meant to inspire even more ideas. We’ve seen ashes kept in a Pringles potato can and pizza box urns. You can allow your memories to inspire you.
To avoid making a difficult period even more difficult, many individuals prefer to have their funeral wishes known well in advance. If any of the 19 things to do with cremation ashes seem like the way to go when the time comes, you can make advance funeral wishes known through a will or document them in front of a witness. Bear in mind if a solicitor is responsible for executing your funeral wishes, some amount of delay can be expected before being contacted.
When possible update these wishes. Also, take into account the brevity of a crematorium service – averagely done in 30 minutes or less. As you pick out music to be played or poems to be recited, leave sufficient time for other family members with a speech or other form of dedication to so during the ceremony.
The loss of a loved one is a painful experience. It can be exceedingly difficult picking out how best to commemorate their lives or respect their funeral wishes. As such, give yourself time to fully formulate a plan. You can additionally consult a funeral director to find out what is possible within your area. When one has been identified, you can then proceed to identify any permits or permissions that are required.