As cremation services have become an increasingly popular choice, a common question for family members of the deceased is what to do with the ashes of their loved ones? While traditional burial, for the most part, mandates burial in a designated cemetery, cremated remains (“cremains”) can be cared for in a number of ways, with less regulation or legal restrictions on where or how they can be scattered or preserved.
(NOTE: it is important to always check with local laws and zoning restrictions before disposing with cremation ashes).
Families will want to consider whether it is important to provide a location that accommodates future visits by loved ones to feel a connection with the deceased, whether formal markings or plaques are desired, and what ceremony or memorial event may accompany any distribution for the ashes: or whether the ashes shall be stored in a container and such as a cremation urn.
Here are some options, both traditional and more creative:
- Burial in a Cemetery Cemeteries have adapted to provide plots for cremated remains: typically smaller and less expensive than those used for caskets, this option provides a more traditional venue for families to visit and remember their loved ones. Columbariums provide similar storage facilities specifically designed for storing funeral urns.
- Home Burial in a Garden or Backyard Most states allow for at-home burial with ashes at a residential property: this can be a comforting way to keep a lost loved one’s presence close by but should be marked with a statue or monument, as this information must be disclosed to any potential home buyer in the future (or the cremains need to be dug up prior to selling the home).
- Cremation Urns It is common for the cremated remains to be stored in an urn (or several urns), to be kept in a home or special place to be shared with family members. Urns can also be incorporated into the ‘hardscape’ in a garden, with cremains stored in special areas within the structure in fountains, statues and sundials, to name a few.
- Scattered in Nature Many national parks allow for scattering ashes, provided certain guidelines are followed. This approach can provide a serene place for family and friends to visit and feel connected to their loved ones alongside the beauty in nature.
- Scattered at Sea There are very few, if any, restrictions on scattering cremated ashes at sea, primarily the distance between the boat and the shore. There are boat companies that provide specialized services (even specialized dissolvable urns) for this purpose. Be careful to consider the wind direction when scattering. It must be in your favor.
- Infused into Art Forms Manty artistic mediums have been developed for preserving a loved one’s ashes, including pencils, glass-blown objects, vinyl, or even 3D Printed objects.
- Send them Off with a Bang! Another niche in cremation disposition services provides memorable send-off events that include firing off the remains in a cannon, exploding them in aerial fireworks, burning them on a small vessel set out to sea, or even rocketing them into outer space!
- Wearables More options for keeping a loved one’s remains close to your heart include having the cremains pressed into diamonds that can be fixed into jewelry, having them mixed into tattoo ink to be penned into one’s skin, or infused with glass into various jewelries, such as pendants or rings.
- Growth in Nature You can also plant the cremated remains in the soil at a new sapling which will grow into a beautiful tree in nature. This is especially applealing to those who loved the outdoors, would like for their life to add to continued growth in the world and in addition to contributing to a greener planet at the same time.
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