Some people leave instructions or guidance for their friends and family as to how they wish their ashes to be scattered or stored. Though these are not legally binding, most relatives will try to ensure that they are kept.
The most common memorials are quite traditional but there are some more contemporary ways to consider for your loved ones’ ashes that you might think would be more fitting.
Here, we take a look at some of the more popular ways to create a lasting memorial.
The most traditional way to store and keep the ashes of a loved one is in an urn or other container which can be kept at home with family.
Easily transportable, urns can be purchased in a huge variety of designs and sizes including contemporary metal, and wooden containers to more classical styles.
You can also opt for a creative urn that is more fitting for your loved one (see Unusual Ideas for Loved Ones’ Ashes’, below).
Popular urns are:
- The teardrop urn is a beautiful ornamental urn for your home, made from aluminium is available in bronze, gold, nickel, silver, pink, pearl, black, white or blue
- If you're looking for a traditional urn, this large 25cm pearl memorial urn will hold an adult's ashes
- This solid wooden cremation ashes casket also has an engraving option.
- This miniature 3 inch urn is made from solid brass and holds a portion of the ashes as a token. It features a butterfly design on the side.
Interment (or burial) of the ashes of a loved one can be undertaken in a variety of ways and in a range of places.
Whilst cremation may be a popular choice of funeral service for personal, religious or economic reasons, interment of the ashes can be a good option for those who want the benefits of a final resting place.
You can arrange for ashes to be interred at a cemetery, either on their own or within an existing grave; this will need to be approved by the cemetery. You can do this on private land with the permission of the landowner.
Be aware that burial of ashes requires a permit to do so (see ‘Can Ashes be Buried on Private Land’).
Plant a Tree
Trees grown with the ashes of a loved one at their roots can be a powerful way to symbolise the circle of life and is wonderful and lasting way to commemorate someone you love.
There are lots of organisations in the UK that offer tree planting as a lasting way to memorialise your loved one. Whilst some of these do not incorporate the ashes themselves, many memorial woodlands will.
If you are commissioning a memorial tree for your loved ones’ ashes, always check that the price you are given allows you to scatter the ashes at the roots of the tree being planted.
The ashes are often placed in a biodegradable urn before being placed in the hole in which the tree is planted.
If you like the idea of growing something from the ashes of your loved one then you can also find tree urns that you can use to grow a tree at home in.
A columbarium (also known as a cremation niche) is a memorial wall or monument that contains alcoves or cavities designed to store the ashes of deceased persons. They are often accompanied by a plaque.
They are very popular in the US and in some parts of Europe but are not so common in the UK.
There are some companies that offer this service if you are interested in this alternative of ‘above-ground burial’.
Creative Ideas for Loved Ones’ Ashes
If scattering is not for you and your family and you would prefer to keep the remains of your loved one close by then there are some very personal but creative ways that you can do this.
UK based company Heart in Diamond offer a service to turn the ashes of your loved one into a unique and authentic diamond.
Extracting the carbon from the ashes, your loved ones’ remains are grown in high-tech labs. The result is an absolutely unique and precious stone.
Many people who opt for this method have the stone incorporated in a piece of jewellery (see below).
Jewellery is a popular way to incorporate the ashes of the deceased into a lasting memorial which can be worn by a bereaved family member.
This is quite a traditional way to remember your loved ones with the practice of mourning jewellery dating back to the Middle Ages. It was brought back into favour in the Victorian period when a lock of hair from the deceased was incorporated into the design.
UK company Ashes into Glass can create custom jewellery to suit your personal preferences. From pendants and rings to bracelets and lockets, you can also include other personalisation such as inscriptions or even the fingerprints of your loved ones.
Here are some lovely jewellery ideas for your loved ones ashes:
- This beautiful double heart ash pendant will take a token of your loved ones ashes for you to wear every day.
- Sterling silver necklace pendant with an angel wing and cubic zirconia. This necklace comes in a gift box.
- A pretty tree of life necklace with delicately coloured stones where you can insert a small amount of cremains. This would also make a lovely gift for someone who has lost a loved one.
Adding the ashes of your loved ones to glass as it is fused to form a stained-glass window is another unique way to create a beautiful memorial.
Ashes can be added to paint pigments and used as the media for producing a bespoke painting, cremation portrait or other piece of artwork.
Just as ashes of the deceased can be added to glass and paint, they can also be incorporated into glazes for pottery and ceramics.
Unusual Ideas for Loved Ones’ ashes
As the saying goes, ‘each to their own’ and just as no two people are the same, the ways to remember them can be just as unique as they were.
Here, we take a look at some of the more unconventional ways that are available to preserve, scatter and memorialise the ashes of your loved ones.
It is not uncommon for relatives or friends to have the life of a loved one commemorated with a tattoo. This lasting and living memorial can be a chance to have an image of the deceased and/or the date of their death inked onto your body.
However, some tattoo artists are now able to offer a much more personalised service for their bereaved customers and can incorporate some of your loved ones’ ashes into the pigments used in your tattoo.
Ashes are not toxic but should be handled and stored in a sterile way and you should check with your local tattooist if they can accommodate this request. Always use a licensed tattooist for this service and, preferably, one that has experience in using cremated ash infused inks.
Offering the bereaved a ‘happier way to say goodbye’, companies like Heavens Above are offering customers unique fireworks displays that incorporate the ashes of your loved ones.
Seen as a celebration of life which can form part of a spectacular display at the end of a memorial service, this could be a very unique and fitting tribute for the right family.
Memorial Space Flights
The same company as above (Heavens Above) also offers customers the opportunity to launch the ashes of their loved ones into space in partnership with a US based company.
You can opt for a portion of your loved ones’ cremains to be launched into Earth’s orbit or even deep space. Celestis, a US company, can even arrange for ashes to be sent to the moon.
The creatively named company And Vinyly has come up with an unusual way to preserve your loved ones’ ashes by having them pressed into a playable vinyl record.
This is a unique way to remember a music lover and can be combined with a fitting choice of song that enables them to live ‘beyond the groove’.
In a Skydive
If you are interested in this kind of aerial tribute then Your Wings can offer the bereaved a way to see their loved ones take a final journey.
Professional skydivers can scatter ashes from a height of 10,000 feet in a filmed ceremony that you can also witness from the ground. Final flights are offered from locations around the UK including Devon, Wiltshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
Traditional urns are either shaped like a vase with a narrow base and a round body or come as simple chest (often made from wood).
However, there are no limits to the style of urn in which you keep the ashes of your loved ones and it is up to you how you personalise this kind of final resting place.
UK based company Crazy Coffins specialises in the unusual when it comes to custom urns and their gallery has examples of everything from a Mercedes van to a replica of the USS Enterprise. Of course, there are no legal requirements about the container in which you store the cremains of your loved ones so finding something personal to you is not difficult.
Although using some clothing of a recently deceased loved one has become a popular idea for creating a teddy bear, it is also possible to have some of their ashes placed inside.
Cami Bear are just one supplier who offer this service and, though based in the U.S., can ship worldwide.
You can also buy a readymade teddy bear specifically created for this purpose with a pouch in the back where a token of the ashes can be placed. Teddy bears such as these are a lovely way to give comfort and to feel close to your loved one.
Part of the Sea Bed
If burial at sea is an appealing way to honour your loved one’s memory but you can’t agree on how this should be done then you could consider the service offered by companies like Solace Reef.
Based in Dorset, Solace Reef are an innovative company that is offering grieving families a unique way to help the environment and memorialise a loved one by becoming part of an artificial reef.
Known as ‘Solace Stones’ and fixed with an engraved plaque, these manmade reefs form an important sanctuary for marine wildlife and are a wonderful way to offer an enduring memorial to someone you love.
Adult Memory Cabinet
After the death of a loved one, it is not unusual for friends and family to treasure their remaining personal effects.
Adult Memory Boxes and Cabinets are a very specific way to incorporate the ashes of your loved one with these special items and can be presented in a number of bespoke ways.
Dutch artist, Mark Sturkenboom, created a unique piece called ‘21 Grams’ which incorporated a golden key which could be worn on a chain, a keepsake drawer and vial for cologne.
A memory cabinet can be custom made to suit your own needs to remember your loved one.