Photo by Cory Woodward on Unsplash
It can be very hard to come to terms with the loss of someone special.
After a cremation, may take a long time to decide what to do with your loved one’s ashes – but there are many options available and no need to rush your decision.
Nowadays there are lots of unique ways to scatter the cremation ashes of your loved one in a touching and memorable way. There are also an increasing number of choices for those who would prefer to keep their loved one physically closer to their heart.
Here are 17 creative ideas for what to do with your loved one’s ashes after cremation.
1. Scatter ashes at a national park
Photo by Aniket Deole on Unsplash
“There is nothing so American as our national parks,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt said.
From Yellowstone to Yosemite, the Rocky Mountains to the Smoky Mountains, America is bursting with beautiful parks that make the nation proud.
If your loved one enjoyed exploring, then these beautiful parks could be the perfect place to scatter their ashes.
Most national parks, including the Grand Canyon, allow ashes to be scattered, provided you have a permit and permission from the chief park ranger.
Application forms are available online and they usually take around two weeks to process.
Beyond the regular entry fees, there are no additional charges for scattering the ashes of loved ones in a national park.
However, many national parks do ask that the ashes are scattered as a fine powder, away from roads, developed areas, and bodies of water.
2. Scatter ashes at the Statue of Liberty
Photo by Anthony Delanoix on Unsplash
No monument is more symbolic of this great nation that our very own Lady Liberty.
Those who love this iconic New York landmark can have their ashes scattered here, in a memorial that a group of up to 25 friends and family can attend.
All you need to do is apply for a permit to scatter human cremains on Liberty Island a minimum of 72 hours before the service takes place.
In addition, you must remain respectful of the other people visiting the area, and not obstruct any other visitors.
3. Turn cremation ashes into jewelery
Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash
One of the most popular ways to hold on to the memory of your loved one is by creating memorial jewelery from ashes.
Whether it’s a diamond pendant or a heart that you literally wear on your sleeve, memorial jewelery is a tradition being rediscovered as a way of celebrating someone’s memory.
From big specialist companies to bespoke jewelers and artisans makers, there is a huge range of pendants, bracelets and ring designs to choose from – including fillable lockets for ashes, fingerprint mementos and crystal beads.
Spirit Pieces is among the American memorial keepsake companies have a range of sympathy jewelry, designed by artisan-makers.
4. Launch ashes into space on a memorial space flight
Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash
Did you know that you can have your loved one’s ashes launched into space?
This option could be ideal for anyone who ever dreamed of visiting the final frontier.
For more than 20 years, US company Celestis has been launching loved ones into the stars.
The Florida firm has completed more than a dozen memorial space flight missions for more than 1,000 families in more than 20 countries during this time, and they famously launched the ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry into space.
The company offers a range of different memorial flights, which are a fitting farewell to adventurous souls.
5. Turn their ashes into a coral reef
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
If you’re looking for a special way to be remembered, new innovations are allowing you to become one with the ocean.
Florida-based Eternal Reefs have been working with cremated ashes since 1998 and created more than 4,000 reefs in more than 70 countries all over the world.
Cremated remains are mixed into concrete ‘reef balls’ which are then laid to rest on the sea bed.
The sustainable round-shaped reef balls are part of a global drive to help create healthy environments that allow sea life to thrive.
6. Scatter ashes on private land
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash
There are many places that are extremely special to our friends and family – which remind us of our amazing time together.
You should always ask the permission of the land owner before scattering the ashes of your loved one on private land.
7. Scatter their ashes at sea
Photo by Anastasia Taioglo on Unsplash
You don’t generally need a licence to scatter ashes out at sea, although you should be aware of state laws keeping the ocean waters clean, which could require you to travel some distance offshore.
Many boat companies offer ashes scattering ceremonies on the waves. In New York, Sea Services, has been offering ashes scattering services at sea for families on the east coast of America for more than 25 years.
The average cost for a small group range in the $800 to $900 area.
Larger groups, special services or trips in the height of the recreational boating season can cost more.
8. Memorial tattoos with cremation ashes
Photo by Cory Woodward on Unsplash
It’s not unnusual for people to get a tattoo to commemorate a loved one, but some studios are now offering custom ink containing their cremains.
A small number of tattoo studios have started offering these unique memorial tattoos to bereaved customers.
The process involves mixing a small amount of your loved one’s ashes with tattoo ink – which can then be used in a range of designs.
Finest Lines tattoo studio, which is based in Wickliffe, Ohio, is one of the few studios to offer this very special type of body art in the US.
The studio has been offering the memorial tattoos for almost 30 years.
9. Cremation ashes into trees
Photo by Michael Liao on Unsplash
The growing popularity of green funerals have got many people thinking about how to give back to the environment after they die.
Biodegradable urns are the perfect tribute to any eco-warrior, designed to return to nature without harming the environment, or even creating a habitat in which you can grow a houseplant or tree.
Bios Urn created the world’s first biodegradable urn – each incorporates a seed, with the cremation ashes directly nourishing the growth of a tree, as a living tribute that will continue to grow and flourish.
10. Cremation ashes into dazzling diamonds
Photo by Anne Edgar on Unsplash
“Diamonds are a girl's best friend,” Marilyn Monroe once sang.
But did you know that you can actually create your own beautiful diamond from your loved one’s cremation ashes?
This might not be the most affordable memorial, but it certainly is one of the most impressive.
Heart in Diamond create beautiful diamonds from cremation ashes so you can hold on to your special memories of them forever. They cost from $750 for a sparkling yellow gem, to $17,295 for a dazzling white diamond and the jewels can be set in a range of precious metal keepsakes
11. Turn them into music
Photo by Dalibor Bosnjako on Unsplash
If you are searching for a more unusual thing to do with your loved ones ashes after cremation, then this option could be music to your ears.
And Vinyly, a UK-based company, offers people the chance to immortalize their loved ones by having their ashes pressed into playable vinyl records.
The record can be pressed with voice recordings or tailor-made with favourite music tracks, while the record cover artwork can also be personalised in meaningful ways.
12. Give them one last dance Photo by Luuk Wouters on Unsplash
Metal band Behemoth granted a late fan’s dying wish by scattering his ashes during a live show. Frontman Adam Nergal Darski scattered the fan’s ashes on to the stage, before performing the late metalhead’s favourite song.
It was reported the band found out about Nick’s dying wish on social media, inspiring them to pay tribute.
If you’re scattering a music lover’s ashes yourself, always seek the permission of the venue owner. One US opera lover accidentally triggered a terrorism scare when he scattered his friend’s cremated remains into the orchestra pit of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
13. Turn them into a beautiful work of art
Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash
Creating art from cremation ashes is becoming popular, in particular, a portrait of the person who has died.
These commemorative cremation portraits are created by mixing your love one’s cremated remains into your materials.
German-born Heide Hatry, who is based in New York, has been creating cremation portraits for the bereaved for more than a decade.
She adds the cremation ashes, piece by piece, to layers of beeswax. Harty started making the beautiful portraits, which take between three and four months to complete, to help her come to terms with the death of a close friend.
14. Turn them into a cherished piece of memorial china
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Imagine cradling a morning cup of coffee, knowing that you are keeping your loved one’s ashes close.
Santa Fe-based ceramics company Chronicle Cremation Designs is uses cremation ashes to create beautiful bespoke ceramics, decorated with glazes that incorporate the ashes of a loved one.
It makes ceramic cups to order for people who want something to remember their loved one by, that they can use every day.
15. Keep your loved one close through intimate memories
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Artist Mark Sturkenboom was inspired to design an adult memory box for a friend, who was grieving the death of her husband and missing their physical intimacy.
His conceptual memory box doubles as a speaker, so it can play music. It is opened by a gold-plated key that can be worn as a necklace.
Inside the box is vial to hold a little of their cologne and a glass massager containing a small golden urn which can hold 21 grams of someone’s ashes.
The Netherlands-based artist says the memory box is “a physical affirmation of love against the unavoidable passing of life,” while 21 grams was once believed to be the weight of the human soul.
16. Shoot them into the sky
Photo by Davies Designs on Unsplash
We all have special people in our lives who lit up every room they were in, so this is one fitting way to remember and celebrate all that energy.
The Ash Scattering Cannon, also known as the Loved One Launcher, is sure to create a spectacular send-off for someone special.
The device can shoot cremains more than seventy feet into the air, allowing for a wide dispersal of ashes that will be seen by all in attendance.
The cremation ashes can also be mixed with confetti or streamers to create a memorable daytime display.
17. Take them on one final trip to remember
Photo by Vincent Versluis on Unsplash
If your loved one was a globetrotter and loved to travel to new places, this could be an ideal way to honor their memory.
Tré Miller Rodríguez, from New York, US, documented a round-the-world trip over the course of several years, scattering a little of her husband’s ashes in places, including the Bahamas, Brazil, the USA, Cuba, England, and Hungary.
Passengers can travel on most airlines with the cremated remains, although it is wise to check your carrier’s guidelines before you fly. In general, cremation ashes can be transported as carry-on luggage on most airlines. Before you board, the ashes must go through X-ray machines at airport security, so any container must be entirely lead-free.
- For more ideas about what to do with cremation ashes, or to make arrangements for any of the memorials listed here, your funeral director should be able to help you with anything you need.