Whether you’re planning your own memorial, or that of a loved one, you might be wondering what to do with ashes that are provided after cremation.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, over half of Americans are choosing to be cremated over a traditional burial. This statistic is projected to grow to an astounding 78.4 percent by 2040. Not only is cremation here to stay, it will become the mainstream choice in a few years.
As a matter of course, we’re seeing families come up with creative ways to use cremation ashes to memorialize a loved one. In this guide, we’re sharing 10 creative ideas for what to do with a loved one’s ashes.
10 Creative Things to do with Loved Ones’ Ashes
Ashes are traditionally placed in a decorative urn after the cremation process takes place. In many cultures, the urn is then kept in the home, buried, or kept with the ashes of other family members.
Today, we’re seeing families come up with creative ideas for what to do with ashes. A memorial is an opportunity to honor the memory of a loved one. There’s plenty of room to add your personal take to a centuries-old ritual.
If you’re not sure what to do with ashes you received, you’re in luck! We hope that you’ll love at least one of the 10 creative ideas below:
1. Scatter ashes in a meaningful place
Scattering ashes is not a new concept by any means, but families are finding creative and meaningful places to do it. Some popular locations include the beach, private property, out at sea, or on the top of a mountain.
But the list doesn’t stop there. Some families might even choose to partake in aerial scattering over national parks, or scatter ashes during a skydiving adventure. If you’re having trouble choosing a location for your loved one’s ashes, think about some of their favorite places, where some of their best memories took place, or their activities or hobbies they were known for. These are often the basis of what brings meaning to the location choice. For example, if your loved one’s favorite thing to do was travel, you might consider scattering their ashes all over the world.
2. Bury ashes in a place of honor
While cremation popularity is on the rise, some families may want to preserve tradition. For some, this means burying (interring) ashes in a place of honor. Although “place of honor” takes on various meanings, common locations include the cemetery or a columbarium.
Different religions may have guidelines on where ashes should be placed as well. For example, the Vatican released a statement in 2016 reminding Catholics that ashes should only be kept in cemeteries and other sacred spaces.
3. Wear a loved one’s ashes in a piece of jewelry
You may be someone who feels comforted by the idea of keeping your loved one close to you. There are services that will pressurize ashes into a diamond, which you can then set into a ring, necklace, or other jewelry item of your choice.
Diamonds are just one option of many. Other services can place ashes into other jewelry items, such as hand-blown and stained glass pieces.
4. Turn your loved one’s ashes into a tattoo
Want to commemorate your loved one forever, literally? Talk to your tattoo artist about mixing ashes into ink. If permanent ink is your vibe, come up with a unique design that will help you commemorate your loved one for life.
5. Incorporate your loved one’s ashes into a painting
You can commission an artist to paint a piece of artwork by using paint mixed with your loved one’s ashes. Your painting could be of anything, but popular choices include a portrait of the deceased, or a painting of their favorite landscape.
Hang the painting in a meaningful area of your home. You’ll be sure to think of your loved one every time you pass it.
6. Turn your loved one’s ashes into a piece of pottery
It’s common to place ashes into an urn, but how about using the ashes to create the urn itself?
“It’s a way of infusing their memory into everyday life,” says one artist from New Mexico.
Find out how he used remains to create a dinnerware collection, which turned into a successful business.
7. Turn your loved one’s ashes into a new tree or plant
Some individuals might love the idea of literally returning to the earth, as a part of the circle of life. There are several services that create pods that contain a mix of cremation ashes and plant nutrients.
Once you receive the pod, you can then plant it in a location of your choosing. Eventually, with some water, sunlight, and love, a tree or other type of plant will grow from the ground.
8. Use your loved one’s ashes to create new coral reefs
If your loved one loved the ocean - perhaps a marine biologist, a sailor, or a surfer - it might surprise you to find out that there’s an option to turn their ashes into a coral reef!
Eternal Reef is a service that will make a coral reef replacement out of concrete. Although it’s not a literal reef made out of coral, it’s a viable, ecologically-friendly alternative that helps restore natural habitats.
9. Opt for a “green burial” of your loved one’s ashes
Another great option for the environmentally-conscious is a green burial. This is a type of burial where you place the ashes into a biodegradable container.
Once you bury the cremated remains, both the container and the ashes will naturally dissolve and become one with the earth.
10. Send a loved one’s ashes into outer space
Last but not least, this option might be great for someone who wants to make a statement. Or, perhaps, someone who loved space and space travel.
There are services that work with space flight companies to help you launch your loved one’s remains into outer space. Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are racing to make commercial space travel available to the masses. This means that this option might become more feasible in the coming decades.
Specify Any Scattering Ashes Ideas in Your Estate Plan
You might find yourself trying to figure what to do with ashes, if your loved one didn’t get around to specifying their wishes in a Will. Although coming up with creative ideas might be fun, it can also be confusing and overwhelming. After all, there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to figuring out how to best memorialize your loved one.
The key to success for you and your loved ones is leaving instructions for your end-of-life wishes. For example, do you want to be buried or cremated? Would you like a funeral, memorial service, celebration of life, or a combination? If you are opting for cremation, what would you like your family to do with your ashes?
The more specific instructions you can provide, the better. As a part of your estate planning process, you will create a Last Will and Testament. This document is the perfect place to set your wishes for the cremation of your ashes and other final arrangements. Set your own wishes for how you want your ashes to be scattered in your estate plan today.
Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Reach out to us today or Chat with a live member support representative!