Memorial Ideas for Loved Ones Ashes

Dec 19, 2016

If you have opted for a direct cremation of your loved one's body instead of a burial, then you will have the option to receive their ashes back from the crematorium after the service and cremation. This can be on the same day depending on the time of the service and committal, although normally crematoriums will say the ashes will be ready within 1 working day,

Packaging of Ashes
Every crematoria is required by law to place the ashes into a robust polythene bag which is then placed into a suitable outer container, but this is often plain white with just a label to identify whose ashes are inside, the cremation number and the name of the crematorium at which the service and cremation took place. This is often seen as quite unglamorous but you can be assured the ashes will be stored safely in this way.

Storing Ashes in an Urn
Once you have collected the ashes, you can then choose to either keep them packaged as they are, or remove them to put into a different urn or container of your choice. This is a traditional way of storing ashes and there are many types of urn design available, including personalised options and different materials such as ceramic, marble and metal. For the ashes of younger ones, there are options to place a small urn inside a teddy as a keepsake.

Jewellery Urns
If you would like to use an urn but don't want a large one to keep on display, then it is also possible to buy jewellery urns, such as a mini urn pendant that won't hold all of the ashes but will take a small amount and can be tightly sealed. Again, it is possible to get personalised jewellery urns that can be engraved with a message of your choice.

The nice thing about this idea is that you can buy more than one and divide the ashes between close family and friends, so you can all feel like you are close to your loved one.

Burying or Scattering the Ashes
You may feel like you'd like to bury or scatter the ashes to draw a final line underneath the death and cremation - a lot of people also like this idea if their loved one was more of an 'outdoorsy' person and feel they are reuniting them with the natural environment they so loved in life.

You can bury or scatter ashes anywhere on your own property, but must get the landowner's permission if you wish to do this outside of your land. Try to bear in mind that friends and relatives still living who may want to visit the place you mark as special for the ash burial or scattering should feel comfortable and easy doing so, so your own property (which may not always be in your family's possession) or someone elses' (especially if a residential dwelling) may not be the best place. Often people opt to bury or scatter them alongside existing graves for family members who have passed before.

One nice idea and particularly suitable for the ashes of someone who loved nature is to plant them as a tree. Sapling kits are available where you can place a small portion of the ashes into a eco-friendly container that will then grow a memorial tree, with the ashes being used to nourish the sapling as it grows.

If you want to take the ashes abroad to bury or scatter, you must get permission from the embassy of the country you're travelling to, to take them there.

Other Ideas
With new technology coming to the fore all the time, there are new ideas, not-so-traditional ideas for how to scatter or memorialise ashes coming onto the market.

Some of these are:

  • Helium balloons -ashes are placed inside and then the balloons released into the atmosphere
  • Fireworks - ashes can be placed into the firework shells and then scattered from up high when the firework detonates
  • Journey into Space - Memorial spaceflights are now available to take your loved ones ashes deep into outer space
  • Embedded into coral reefs- ashes are inserted into a cement mix that is then poured into a form and sunk into the sea for coral to grow onto, helping to rebuild the coral reef.
  • Turned into certified diamonds - either ashes or locks of hair can be turned into a certified diamond and kept as a keepsake for years to come
  • Turned into a tattoo - it is possible to mix ashes with tattoo ink and keep your loved one with you as a personal reminder all the time.
  • Into glass - ashes can be mixed with glass and then used for a variety of keepsakes, including vases, paperweights and even stained glass windows. If your loved one was a patron of the local church, this may be a nice idea to then donate to the parish.

What happens if I choose not to receive the ashes?
If you choose not to take the ashes home, then they will typically be strewn in the garden of remembrance on the crematorium site. It is best to check, however, before you make a final decision as each crematorium will have their own policy on what to do with uncollected ashes.