What to do with a loved one’s ashes

From an urn on the mantelpiece to a flight into space, there are many different ways to keep or scatter cremation ashes  

Cremations only became popular in Britain after the second world war. At that time most people were unsure what to do with the ashes, often leaving them behind at the crematorium or funeral parlour.

These days things are different. Most people take the ashes home after the funeral, often to scatter them at a particular location in line with the last wishes of the deceased. This could be a favourite beauty spot, on top of a mountain, in the garden or at sea. Ashes have even been scattered onto football pitches and cricket wickets, released during skydives, placed into the furnace of a steam train and thrown to the winds on a fairground ride in full swing.

Many people choose to keep the ashes at home, sometimes because they are uncertain as to what to do with them because their loved one never expressed a preference, or simply because they would rather stay close to the ashes. For other people, unresolved feelings of grief and loss mean that they are simply not ready to let go yet. And so some homes have small shrines to a loved one, with the urn sitting on a mantelpiece surrounded by mementoes such as photographs, ornaments and small possessions. Other people prefer to keep the ashes out of sight in a private place. 

A more unusual way to release a loved one’s ashes is to send them into the sky. Essex-based company, Heavenly Stars, gives people the chance to say goodbye with special memorial displays in which cremation ashes are incorporated into the fireworks. You can go one step further and send ashes into space. Ascension Flights uses meteorological balloons filled with helium to carry biodegradable urns to the edge of space. Once the balloon reaches 100,000ft, it bursts and scatters the ashes across the Earth.

Tattoos are often used as a way to remember a special person, and some tattoo artists can now create unique memorials using ink that contains some of your loved one’s ashes. Ash jewellery is also becoming increasingly popular with a growing number of companies offering handcrafted pieces made with a small amount of cremation ash.   

If a loved one was passionate about the environment then you might want to consider transforming their ashes into a tree thanks to special biodegradable urns available from some companies. Alternatively, you can simply arrange to bury ashes in an allocated woodland setting.

Choosing what to do with a loved one’s ashes is a very personal thing, but whatever you decide we’re here to help. At WR Bettelley we passionately believe that funerals should be tailored to you and your family. Whether planning a funeral for a relative or friend whose death is imminent, or your own farewell, it is important to think about what kind of ceremony will best reflect you or your loved one. Whether you want a more traditional format, or you would like to break with convention and do something different, we’re here to help create a funeral that commemorates life in a unique way. 

For more information please call us on 01782 313542 or email info@wrbettelley.com

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