When you’ve lost a loved one, you can remember them in many different ways. If you chose cremation, there are a wide range of personal, memorable, unique, formal, and creative things to do with the cremation ashes. We’re going to explore some of these ideas together to help you decide what works best for you.
1. Choose a classic funeral urn or a modern urn for ashes
An ashes urn is a receptacle for keeping the cremated remains of a person who has passed away. They can be permanent containers for cremated ashes if, for example, you want to keep the urn with your loved one’s remains in your family home, a columbarium, or crypt.
It might surprise you to learn that there is more than one type of urn. Not only do they come in different sizes, but they also come in different styles. There are also several other receptacles or containers you could use to keep the loved one’s ashes.
- Standard urn: The size of this type of urn should be large enough to hold the ashes of an adult. You can have it made from materials such as wood, metal, glass, or marble. You can also personalise the urn with an engraved plate or easel. Adding decorative accents is optional
- Companion cremation urns: These are available in an assortment of materials and are designed to hold the ashes of two individuals. You can also personalise them or have decorative accents added. You can use them for the ashes of your parents, grandparents, a spouse and sibling or child, even a pet and their owner
- Keepsake urn: This type of urn is smaller and designed to hold a portion of a person’s ashes. They are ideal for families looking to share the ashes of their loved one
- Jewellery urn: If you want to carry a piece of your loved one with you wherever you go, a jewellery urn is the answer. This type of urn is small enough to hang from a necklace or bracelet
- Biodegradable urn: If you’d prefer something more natural, biodegradable urns for ashes are a good option. They are eco-friendly, elegant, and a fitting way to memorise a loved one who cared about the environment
2. Interment of cremated ashes
Interment is a term used when you keep the ashes of a loved one in a permanent place following a cremation. Your loved ones' ashes are delivered to you, and you can place them in a burial plot, an urn garden, a niche in a columbarium, or special burial vault, or on private land.
- Interring cremated ashes in a cemetery: This is the most common place for people to bury their loved one’s ashes. You can add a memorial, but it’s best to speak to the cemetery administration to find out what type of memorial they will allow. It’s possible to bury the remains of several people in the same plot.
- Urn garden: Cemeteries and other memorial locations often have a specific area for containing ashes. They can be either below or above ground.
- Interring in a landscape: You can choose to inter ashes in a fountain, beneath a rock, a bench, or any other fitting place in the garden.
- Interring ashes on private property: This is an option if you want a personal burial and be able to keep the ashes close-by on your private property. You are not required to hire a funeral director, but you can still have a ceremony. As a lasting tribute, you can choose a suitable marker or some other type of monument by the gravesite.
Interment of ashes is a good option for those with religious beliefs, families who already have members buried at a specific location, direct cremations, or those that want permanence and a sense of tradition that a cemetery or graveyard can provide.
You can include images of the interment in a Pure Memories memorial page.
3. Scatter the ashes
In the UK, there are no prohibitive laws relating to the scattering of ashes. Restrictions arise more from the morals of releasing them in a particular place. You are perfectly within your rights to scatter your loved one’s ashes over land or water, as long as you have the permission of the landowner. Depending on the location, you may have to speak to different people, for example, the local church, council, or private owner.
Return the ashes back to Mother Nature
Some conservation organisations advise not to scatter ashes on mountain peaks or similar beauty spots as they can have a negative impact on fragile plant life. Choosing to scatter ashes in a nature area, however, is a popular thing to do.
There are lots of secluded areas that are easy to find. You can consider a hilltop, coastal path, or wooded area. Trees or milestones can be used as a memorial, should you wish to mark the anniversary of a loved one’s death or simply pop by to say “hello”. If you choose a spot on private land, don’t forget to ask permission from the landowner.
Scattering over water
Scattering your loved one’s ashes at sea can be a very fitting send-off if they loved spending time at the beach or they were a boating enthusiast. Most beaches and coastlines are accessible, and you do not require a license. You will, however, need to comply with guidelines set by the Environmental Agency. It’s also important that any tributes scattered with the ashes are biodegradable.
Rivers and lakes are also popular places for scattering ashes. You don’t need a license or permission, but you should check the water is not near an extraction point. Also, avoid casting plastic material into the river.
Things to consider before scattering the ashes
- Take your time when deciding on a location. Don’t feel pressured into making a hasty decision when thinking about ashes
- Find a balance between family opposing views. Family members may have different views on what to do with the ashes. If you can’t agree, there’s always the option of scattering or keeping the ashes at various locations
- Think about future access. If you want future generations to be able to visit the location, choose it wisely
- Respect the last wish of the deceased, unless it’s either impossible or prohibited. In this case, consider scattering a token amount of ashes according to their wishes and scatter the rest somewhere more appropriate
- Make your own keepsake. There are many ways you can have the ashes made into a keepsake
4. Turn cremation ashes into jewellery
If you like the thought of keeping your loved one close to you, there are companies such as Together Always that can turn your loved one’s ashes into jewellery. It’s a very loving tribute to the person you lost and a chance to honour them by crafting jewellery to hold ashes or something made from their cremated remains. Have the ashes made into jewellery such as beads and pendants, or have the remains made into a stone that you can wear as earrings, a ring, necklace, or bracelet.
5. Have a cremation portrait ordered
For an enduring tribute to your loved one, why not have an artist mix the ashes with paint to create a portrait. When you look at the portrait, you’ll know that part of them are in the artwork.
6. Set the dust into fireworks
You can use fireworks as part of a memorial celebration. They are a great way to send a loved one off in style. Heavenly Stars is a company that can incorporate the ashes of a loved one into fireworks. Heavens Above Fireworks is another company that offers the same service. Staff can help with arranging all aspects of your special firework tribute.
7. Scatter their ashes at sea or turn them into a coral reef
If your loved one loved spending time at the coast, either on the beach or out on the water, scattering their ashes at sea can be a great send-off. If you are to perform a burial at sea, you’d need a license, but not if you’re scattering ashes. The only stipulation is that you scatter them with biodegradable tributes.
Creating a permanent living legacy under the sea is another option. You can arrange for your loved one’s ashes to be placed in “Solace Stones”. These are then incorporated into an artificial reef.
8. Plant a tree over biodegradable ashes container
Woodland burials and green funerals are increasing in popularity. If you like this idea, you can transform your loved one’s ashes into a tree. You plant the ashes along with a seed inside a biodegradable urn, and the tree grows with the help of the cremated remains. If your loved one was passionate about the environment, what better way to say farewell.
9.Put them into vinyl records
A recent study found that one quarter of young people like the idea of having their ashes compressed into a vinyl record. A company called And Vinyly can do it for you, creating a bespoke vinyl record that you can cherish for many years to come. You can record a personal message, your own soundtrack, your last will and testament, or simply the sound of silence.
10. Remember your loved one forever with a tattoo
People have been using tattoos as a memorial for someone who has passed away for many years, but now it’s possible to take such an idea a little further. There are tattoo studios in the UK who will use body ink that contains some of your loved one’s ashes. The ashes are mixed with ink to create a unique memorial tattoo.
11. Have a memorial cuddly toy made
If you’d like to keep your loved one close to you, you might want to place a small amount of their ashes into a cuddly toy or memorial bear. The ashes are typically concealed inside the toy in a container. This type of memorial is very fitting for families who have lost a child.
12. Pay the last tribute with a spitfire aircraft
Having your loved one’s ashes scattered from a Spitfire is a fitting tribute if they had a passion for planes or flying or were a service veteran or pilot. Fly a Spitfire offers such a service. They have permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to provide ash scattering flights over Kent from the historic Biggin Hill airfield.
13. Send them to the moon
It’s possible to have the remains of your loved one sent up to the moon. Every night afterwards, you'll be able to gaze up and know exactly where they are.
14. Let the ashes reach heaven
Well, maybe not to heaven exactly, but you can arrange for your loved one’s ashes to be scattered in space. The ashes are placed inside a biodegradable urn and then carried into space using a meteorological balloon filled with helium. As soon as the balloon reaches 100,000 feet, it bursts and the ashes are scattered across the Earth.
15. Wave them goodbye on a Viking boat
Many centuries ago, a Viking ship funeral would have been for the greatest Viking warriors. Traditionally, they would bury the ship with the cremated remains of the person inside. A company based in Dorset has brought this idea up to date and makes wicker Viking ships complete with a sail. Place your loved one’s ashes inside and let it sail away. You can then set it aflame for a spectacular Viking-style send-off.
16. Honour their memory with 3D technology
Your choice of ash container is no longer limited to an urn or box. Thanks to 3D technology you can now have a custom urn made in any shape you want. What did they love? Was it a particular celebrity? Did they have a favourite car? You can even have something made that is a likeness of the deceased. Your 3D container can be made from a ceramic or plastic material.
17. Have a cremation sculpture designed
They create a cremation sculpture using a small portion of cremated remains and incorporating them into an original work of art. They make a beautiful memorial that permanently contains a small amount of cremated remains. The most popular sculptures are made by turning ashes to glass.
18. Turn the cremated remains into stones
If you feel uncomfortable about keeping ashes around, you can have them turned into stones. Solidified remains let you feel a meaningful connection with the departed. Once their ashes have been made into stones, you can hold them in your hands and feel their energy.
19. Store the ashes into shotgun shells
Was the deceased an avid hunter? An apt way to remember them would be with a box of ammunition, each containing a portion of their ashes.
20. Get a cremation diamond
Did you know you can create a beautiful diamond from your loved one’s ashes? This is quite an impressive memorial idea. Heart in Diamond is one company that offers to create a dazzling tribute for your loved one. Once they have created the diamond, it can be set in a range of precious metal keepsakes or jewellery.
21. Add as sand in an hourglass
Why not consider a poignant reminder to always live your life to the full and make the most of every moment? Display your loved one’s ashes in an eye-catching hourglass that sits on the mantel.
22. Get more inspiration with other types of cremation art
There are lots more ideas if you’re looking for more inspiration on what to do with cremation ashes:
- Cremation blown glass art
- Cremation lamps
- Gazing balls
- Memorial picture frame
- Stained glass window
- Writing ink
- Specially-filled pencils
23. Special ideas for ashes in the garden
- Carved garden stone
- Flower urn
- Unique garden sculpture
- Sun dial
- Stepping stones
Need more information before you decide what to do with the cremation ashes?
There are so many options available that it can be difficult to decide. Pure Cremation is here to offer help and advice for anyone who has lost someone close. Get in touch and we’ll find the most fitting way for you to remember a loved one.