What To Do With Cremated Remains
As the rate of cremation rises, so do the options for memorialization after the cremation service.
Cremated remains are typically placed in an urn or another container, and are presented to the family after the cremation service. Urns are made of wood, metal, clay, and many other materials, and come in an almost unlimited variety of styles and personalization options.
If you’re interested in alternatives to placing the urn on a mantle at home, following are some common and more unique options for permanent memorialization.
Burial of Cremated Remains
This is similar to a traditional burial with a casket and vault. The only difference is that the remains are cremated, and in an urn. Most cemeteries offer this type of burial. Some may require a cremation vault, which is a metal or concrete box that the urn would be placed in. This urn vault acts as a protective container for the urn. Some cemeteries have a section set aside specifically for this, called an Urn Garden.
A cremation niche is an above-ground burial space in a columbarium, in which an urn containing a loved one’s cremated remains is placed and sometimes sealed. Similar to a mausoleum, there is usually a wall with recessed compartments for placing the cremation urn permanently. Niches are available at many cemeteries, both indoors and outdoors. Costs vary by location and cemetery. Read more about cremation niches.
Scattering the cremated remains in a place that was meaningful to your loved one is popular. That might be over water or at a favorite park. Check whether permission and permits are required for certain spots, such as state parks or privately owned property. Other options include aerial scattering or at-sea scattering. Read more about scattering ashes.
Neptune Memorial Reef
Committing a loved one’s remains to the sea provides a powerful sense of closure and new beginnings through the act of returning them to nature and the origin of life. Underwater inurnment in memorial reefs is an alternative that appeals to people interested in unique, environmentally sensitive memorials. This practice combines several aspects of cremation (the urn, ash scattering, and burial at sea) into one environmentally meaningful and permanent tribute to a person’s life. Read more about memorial reefs.
Cremation jewelry is a keepsake that allows sharing of your loved one’s remains and provides a sense of connection to the person you’ve lost. The jewelry can be a small vial with a portion of the remains placed in a pendant, earrings, a bracelet or ring, or an actual diamond stone made from the ashes. Often the family engraves dates or a memorable quote from the deceased loved one on the jewelry to accompany and preserve the memory. Read more about cremation jewelry.
Fireworks, Space Travel, and More
For those who are looking for especially unique and creative ways to memorialize a loved one, cremated remains can be placed into fireworks, glass orbs or even launched into space. For the latter, your loved one’s remains can be placed into Earth’s orbit, sent to the lunar surface or set adrift among the stars for eternity. Combine a fireworks show with the launch into space, and your loved one will be remembered in the grandest way.