When a loved one is cremated, there’s always a question of what to do next. Generally, their ashes will sit in an urn, but what should you do with them? Do they have to stay in the urn?
There are plenty of thoughtful things to do to memorialize your loved one. In many cases, you can visit the funeral home you’re working with to see urns and cremation jewelry in person, giving you a chance to pick from unique choices to honor your loved one. Talk to your funeral director to learn what kinds of urns and cremation jewelry options are available at the funeral home. But what should you do if you have many different urns for your loved ones? If you have many of your loved ones’ urns and aren’t sure what you can do, here are a few options.
What to Do With Loved Ones’ Urns
1. Create mini memorials.
Choose an urn that reminds you of your loved one. Maybe they were an artist, and you’d want a bright and colorful urn that always makes you think of how brightly they shined. Or perhaps they were more quiet and reserved, and you’d like an urn that makes you feel as peaceful as they did. Find a place in your house that’s not too busy and place the urns on a surface with some distance between each one. Then, surround each urn with trinkets and pictures of the loved one whose urn it is. These mini memorials are a beautiful way to cover your home with the memories of your loved ones.
2. Incorporate the urns into your decor.
Urns don’t have to stand out from the rest of your home. If you’re looking for a more subtle way to display your loved ones, many urns simply look and can even function like vases, with the ashes concealed in a bottom compartment that leaves room for flowers or candles in the top. By choosing an urn that looks more like another piece of decor, you can incorporate it into the room’s style. If the urn also functions as a vase, you could also place flowers in it, giving the room an extra pop of color.
3. Grow a memorial tree with a biodegradable urn.
Although ashes on their own aren’t particularly great for growing plants, recent years have seen a movement for more companies creating and offering biodegradable urns with tree-growing kits. Through these kits, you’ll be able to turn your loved one’s ashes into a memorial tree. These products use different methods to make ashes more friendly to plants, allowing for thriving trees to be born from the urn.
4. Turn your loved one’s ashes into a reef.
Another environmentally-conscious way of memorializing your loved one is by reef ball burial. Sadly, the world has lost 50 percent of its coral reefs since the 1950s, diminishing crucial habitats for sea creatures. Through reef ball burials, your loved one will become a part of an underwater structure that mimics the characteristics of a reef. These artificial reefs have already seen wildlife beginning to flock to them, meaning that your loved one is creating a home for many creatures that have been displaced.
5. Turn their ashes into art.
There are so many different ways that ashes can be incorporated into stunning pieces of artwork. Some artists can create portraits by mixing the ashes with paint. Others include the ashes in handblown glass works of art. And for those who enjoy using the body as a canvas, some tattoo artists can mix the ashes with ink to create a tattoo to honor your loved one.
6. Turn their ashes into jewelry or buy jewelry built to contain ashes.
Just like other works of art, there are many types of jewelry that can be used to memorialize your loved one. With some cremation jewelry, ashes are mixed with the other materials used to build it. These are highly personalized necklaces, bracelets, rings, pendants, brooches, and more, and as such, they can take some time to craft. But you can also buy pre-made jewelry that’s built with a little compartment to contain ashes.
7. Scatter the ashes.
Some people might not like the idea of keeping a loved one’s remains in an urn. Perhaps you feel that your free-spirited family member should be where they loved being most, like at sea or in the national park they used to hike through all the time. Scattering ashes can be a lovely ceremony, all about returning your loved one to the places they enjoyed most in life. There are funeral homes and boating companies that will take you and your family out on the water to spread the ashes when you’re far enough from shore. For even bigger risk-takers, there are even companies that will help you scatter the ashes while skydiving. Another popular option is spreading them in national parks, but be sure not to do it too close to a trail.
Be sure you’re adhering to state and local ordinances wherever you decide to spread the ashes. And remember, just because you’re allowed to go somewhere doesn’t mean you can scatter ashes there. Spreading ashes in a privately-owned business is not permitted without proper consent.
Whether you decide to display your urns or turn your loved ones’ ashes into stunning works of art, you’re memorializing those you loved in sentimental, beautiful ways. The only things that matter are that you’re choosing methods that honor the memory of those you lost and that the plans you opt for provide comfort to you as you think about those you loved.