Cremation is a very popular choice among Brits. In our blog last month we told you that, in 2019, 78% of funerals in the UK were cremations. The ashes that are left at the end of a cremation are called cremains and it is up to you what you choose to do with them.
With a burial, everything comes to a close at the end of the day; you’ve had the funeral and committed the body to the ground. There is a sense of finality, a feeling of closure.
Cremations, on the other hand, are different because after a short period the ashes are back with you. While some people might know what they are going to do with the ashes, or even have a second ceremony organised to bury or scatter them, many of us don’t know at this point what to do with them. And that’s absolutely fine because there is no rush. It may also help with the grieving process, just slowing everything down and taking your time to say your final goodbyes.
Some people decide not to do anything and simply keep the ashes with them. There is something to be said for knowing your loved one is still very close by.
It is legal to scatter ashes on land and water in the UK, as long as you have the landowner’s permission. Do think carefully about your choice. You will likely want to revisit the place for many years after you scatter the ashes, so make sure it is somewhere you will be able to access easily and without feeling like you shouldn’t be there.
For instance, you may have a field or meadow in mind, but will it always be as it is or could it be built on? If you’re thinking about a place where your loved one spent lots of time, such as a golf course then make sure you find out what you need to know. While they may grant you permission to scatter the ashes there, how easy will it be to revisit if you’re not a member or having to go after play stops to avoid the flying golf balls? Public venues such as football stadiums and tourist destinations are usually off limits. You will be grateful in the long term for finding somewhere peaceful and easy to visit where you don’t feel like you’re not welcome. Remember, you can scatter some of the ashes in different places.
Of course you can also choose to bury them in a churchyard or a memorial garden such as at Harwood Park. The good thing about burying ashes is that you have somewhere to go and visit your loved one and lay flowers on special occasions. Unlike scattering, you know they are there and you can have a memorial stone, just as you would a gravestone for a burial.
If you want to keep the ashes close to you, but not sat in an urn, there are many different options available. You can have their ashes made into memorial jewellery. Ashes can be added to colourful glass beads as a charm bracelet, included in a locket or set into silver for pendants and necklaces. You can also have ashes made into a diamond. Created in a laboratory, a hi-tech process extracts the carbon from the ashes and compresses it at a high temperature, after which the molten material reforms into its natural state. It’s then cut and polished into a genuine diamond. As we all know, diamonds are forever, so what a fitting way to remember your loved one.
Did you know Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, was shot into space after his death? There are now companies who will send ashes up into space, or if that’s a little too far, ashes can be added to fireworks, which are then set off into the sky in a very special fireworks display.
Why not divide the ashes up and give them out to family members to do as they see fit? Here is some more inspiration just to show that, with the help of specialist companies, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding a fitting final resting place for your loved one:
- Scatter them from a hot air balloon or a light aircraft
- Scatter them at sea or into a river by a special charter boat
- Mix them into clay or concrete to make something such as a garden ornament, or have them sealed in resin
- Commission an artist to mix them with paint and create a special portrait
- Have them pressed into a vinyl record to play your – or their – favourite music