One of the primary advantages of cremation is that families can take their time in organizing a proper memorial. With a traditional funeral and burial, the nature of the process means it must be completed quickly. Add grief on top of that, and it is clear why many people want something different for their death.
Once a person is cremated, their ashes are safe to handle and inert. Loved ones could theoretically spend years planning out the perfect memorial, though most families do it much sooner than that.
What can slow down the planning process is the variety of options available for honoring a loved one’s cremains. Some of those ideas are quite creative, so we’ve made a list of some of the most popular ways to honor a loved one’s memory.
1. Pick an Urn That Fits Your Loved One
There are many ways to honor someone’s ashes but storing them in a beautiful urn remains a favorite. And there are many urns to choose from, some designed to look like certain things or designed to be placed in certain areas.
An ornamental urn for the fireplace mantle still works. But what about an urn that looks like a book or an urn with a carved landscape on it? Matching an urn to the loved one’s interests or personality is a beautiful way to remember a beloved family member.
There are also special urns designed for burial, and even some for the environmentally-conscious that break down quickly in the soil. In fact, green urns often come with seeds for growing a tree or flowers. In this way, new life becomes part of the memorial.
2. Store the Ashes in a Columbarium
If you do choose an urn to store your loved one’s cremains, they don’t have to be kept in a home. They can also be stored in a columbarium. Columbariums are typically located on cemetery grounds and are free-standing structures designed to house cremation urns.
Some columbariums are large enough to walk through and may include thousands of urn niches. Families also have the choice to secure a family niche, which is large enough to store multiple urns. Niches can be reserved for decades into the future, so future generations can be interred in the same spot.
By going with a columbarium, family members can visit their loved one the same way one would visit a grave. That means anyone can visit at any time.
3. Keep Them Close in a Piece of Jewelry
Cremation jewelry is a popular keepsake option for a loved one’s cremains. Cremation ashes can be incorporated into rings, bracelets, pendants, earrings, and many other pieces.
It’s not obvious when someone is wearing cremation jewelry, as these pieces are designed to look like any other piece of jewelry. This makes it a good option for people who want their loved one close by wherever they go.
4. Scatter Them on the Ocean, or Inter Them Under the Water
Many people love the water so much that returning them to it just seems right. There are a few ways to do this, including:
- Scattering the ashes at sea – The simplest way to celebrate a water-loving family member is to scatter the ashes at sea. This is obviously easier to do if the ocean or a lake are nearby. Florida’s extensive coastline, for instance, makes this easy to do.
There are boat rental services that can take families out onto the water specifically for releasing cremation ashes. These are inexpensive and quick, but necessary, as most states have laws against releasing cremains close to shore.
- Release a water urn – Just as there are biodegradable urns designed for a land burial, there are urns made for the water, where they quickly break down and release the ashes. These can also be dropped in the water, as long as the boat is far enough away from shore.
- Incorporate the ashes into a coral reef – There are also underwater options for cremation ashes. One example are coral reefs designed to take cremation ashes. Your loved one’s cremains are integrated directly into the reef, where they provide shelter for fish and a permanent memorial for your loved one.
5. Send Them into the Sky, or Higher
Land, sea, and air – ashes can go just about anywhere. If your loved one was a big fan of the big sky, here are a few options to celebrate them:
- Go skydiving with the ashes – Yes, there are skydiving services that will help people release their loved one’s ashes during a jump. You’ll need to make absolute sure that all that’s being released is your loved one’s cremains, because some urns come with the identifying metal tag inside. It’s likely that one of the experienced skydivers will do the actual release, though experienced divers may handle it on their own.
- Send them out in a blaze of glory – Your loved one’s cremains can be packed inside fireworks and set to launch. This can be a tough service to find, but there are specialty fireworks manufacturers that can pack cremation ashes into artillery shells that can then be fired like normal.
Before you do launch those fireworks, though, make sure you have permission from the property owner if it’s taking place on a private piece of land.
- Let them reach for the stars – Why stop inside the atmosphere, though? Cremains can also be launched into space for a steep fee. Options include launching your loved one’s cremains for a return trip to Earth, launching into Earth’s orbit, launching toward the moon, or launching into deep space. Depending on the launch, your loved one’s ashes will likely be the only trace of humanity, wherever they go. For the space exploration lover, there’s no better final mission.
6. Mix Them into a Memorable Piece of Art
If your loved one was more creatively inclined, that can be the focus for a memorial. Ashes can be incorporated into a variety of art pieces, including:
- Wood art
Your loved one’s cremains can be mixed into the paint or pottery clay that is then used to make the art. As such, you can make the art yourself or have a talented artisan do it for you. In both cases, the final product is one that celebrates your loved one’s creativity.
No Matter How You Choose to Remember a Loved One, Cremation Makes It Easy to Arrange
As you can see, there is an incredible variety of ways to memorialize a loved one’s cremains. Whether they’re going on a mantle or to a distant galaxy, cremation allows families to plan and execute the perfect memorial.