10 Ways to Dispose of a Loved One’s Ashes
Cremation is gaining traction as the funeral planning method of choice, with over a third of Americans opting to be cremated over being buried. These numbers are only expected to continue rising, and estimates suggest that over half of all deaths will end in cremation by the year 2020.
Of course, just because cremation is becoming more popular doesn’t mean everyone will have to dispose of the ashes in the same way. One of the best things about cremation is how creative you can get with the remains. Here are ten unique and not-so-unique ways to say goodbye to your loved one.
- Display the Urn: Although some people find it macabre to keep a loved one’s ashes displayed on the mantle, this is a traditional option for anyone who wants to stay near their dear and departed. A decorative urn can be placed in the home or in a columbarium for regular visitations.
- Ash Scattering Ceremony: Most people opt to scatter the cremated remains of a loved one. Whether you go out back in the garden or stand on the bow of a boat and send the ashes off to sea, scattering the ashes is a great way to say goodbye (just make sure you have the right permits first)
- Plant a Tree: Tree urns allow you to transform the ashes of a loved one into nutrient-rich soil that will live on for hundreds of years to come. You can purchase a specific tree urn (or bush urn) or simply use the ashes as fertilizer in a favorite gardening spot.
- Make Jewelry: Although costly, you can hire a company to compress the ashes into a diamond. You can then wear the diamond as a necklace, ring, or even earrings.
- Go Airborne: Human ashes can be sent into the air via several different routes. You can send a sample into orbit around the earth, have a plane sky-write with them, or even get them made into fireworks to set off on a special occasion.
- Timeshare: If the deceased left behind a large family, and you’re having a hard time agreeing what to do with the ashes, you can also timeshare the remains. Divide the ashes equally among the descendants or simply pass the urn along every few years. Cremated remains are portable, so they’re easy to ship or move.
- Bury the Ashes in a Cemetery: Do you regret not having a burial and a grave to visit? No worries—you can always bury an urn and hold a formal funeral that way. Most cemeteries have special cremation plots where you can erect a headstone and visit the deceased just as if you had the body buried in a casket.
- Make Something New: Ashes can be mixed in with most plastics during the manufacturing process, and without any visible effects. This is something several companies are taking advantage of, and you can find specialty providers that will turn ashes into everything from records and Frisbees to tattoo ink or even paper products.
- Bury the Ashes at Home: Having a body buried on your own land is a difficult process, since you have to apply for permits, meet health codes, and sometimes even have an inspection done. However, the same regulations don’t apply for cremated remains. If you’d like to have a “cemetery” on your own land, you should be able to bury ashes with just a little paperwork.
- Wait: One of the best things to do with cremated remains is nothing at all. When you have a loved one cremated, you’re giving yourself the gift of time. There is no hurry to decide how you want to memorialize the deceased—you can consider your options and ensure that the decision you make is one you’re happy with.