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©Alternative Memorials : What to do with the ashes?

an example of the stunning fused glass night lights by with love & light

Alternative Memorial Ideas

What to do with the ashes?

What do you do with the ashes (cremains) of your deceased loved ones?

Whether its weeks, months or years after the funeral, you may decide you want to think about scattering their ashes, but, did you know that here in the UK there are plenty of wonderful, alternative ways to memorialise your loved ones using some of their ashes.

Once a body is cremated, it typically takes seven to ten days to return the ashes (cremains) to the family. After that there are plenty of options with where to keep them, what to keep them in, where to bury them or scatter them. The thing is that once you have them you can take as long as you need.

There is no wrong time…

A friend of mine collected the urn of her late partner and it sat in a large gift bag in the boot of her car for several years. He went everywhere with her.  Whenever we went shopping and opened the boot to deposit our bounty we would always say ‘hi’ to him. He loved shopping. It seemed like the right thing for a very long time.  When it felt right to lay the ashes to rest, some were scattered in all the most poignant places that held fond memorial and the rest were buried , I believe, in the garden.

Do what feels right for you…

It might be weeks, months, a year, several years before you feel ready to do something. That something can be private, or with friends and family. It can be formal or informal. You can make an intimate memorial , remembrance, life celebration event surrounding it and engage a celebrant; you can lay the ashes in a cemetery or garden of remembrance; or you can do something unique and alternative.

The other thing to remember is that there are lots of ashes so you can do several things for the same deceased person.

Some beautifully creative and endearing options of what to do with the ashes :-

Incorporate them in a beautiful painting

There are several beautiful artists in the UK who will incorporate ashes into magnificent art.

Take a look at Anna Dyson, Intuitive Oils,  Ashes to Art , who incorporates ashes into abstract memorial oil paintings.  I love the way she works with you from the beginning, the beautiful ashes collection kit she sends out with the bamboo spoon and container ; and the fact that your personal artwork can be reproduced onto bamboo cards and prints too x

Whilst the business names are similar, Liverpool based artist, Michelle Jones, Ashes 2 Art, has a completely different painting style.  She started her business in 2019, after the death of her father , wanting to create a memorial with some of his ashes; and created a beautiful landscape in his memory.  Using acrylics she will paint your loved ones ashes into a meaningful landscape to reflect their life. .

Local to me, is the fabulous Daniel Garland. Daniel is an abstract artist from Betws, who has sold art worldwide.

Make them part of an Enduring Sculpture

Beautiful example of the work by Casting Ashes, this stunning Angel WingAdding cremation ash to sculpture is a beautiful way to honour someone’s essence and celebrate their enduring presence in our lives. Casting Ashes take a small sample of cremation ash and combine it with dust from the earth. Based in Cornwall, Noel & Jill Brennan use granite dust from local mines together with the ashes of your loved one to cast an ever lasting sculpture

Turn them into beautiful glass

an example of the stunning fused glass night lights by with love & lightSmall amounts of ashes can be converted into beautifully coloured glass beads which can be set into jewellery. Take a look at Ashes to Glass, based in Billericay, Essex and run by brothers Bill and James Watts

Or the glass made can be used to create any beautiful decoration such as a Christmas bauble, paperweight or oil candle; or simply gorgeous sculpture. Take a look at Sarah Livingstone’s work, With Love and Light

Get a tattoo with Cremation Ink

If you are into tattoos then this is one way you can really keep your loved one close. You can now get body ink which actually contains some of your loved one’s ashes. If you are looking to do a cremation tattoo, do not go to any artist. Make sure you find an artist that is experienced in cremations ask ink so that you know it is done correctly.

Make a Record

the perfect resting place for vinyl lovers, ashes pressed into a recordDid you know you can have your ashes compressed into a vinyl record. And Vinyly will press your loved one’s ashes into a bespoke vinyl record for family and friends to cherish for years to come. As they say ” Live on beyond the groove”

Hold them close to you in a locket

Clear Urn Memorial PendantNot only can you have some of the ashes embedded in jewellery , you can also hold some close to you in a beautifully crafted locket. I particularly like this range of contemporary silver by Ashes Memorial Jewellery, based in Staffordshire and founded by Julia Usher.

Send them off with a Bang

My partner regularly reminds me that he wants his ashes to go up in a rocket. Mind you he is a November 5th birthday boy , so maybe bonfires and fireworks are in his blood. Anyway, it is possible to have ashes incorporated in fireworks. Check out Essex based, Heavenly Stars Fireworks who offer a variety of services for incorporating your loved one’s ashes into fireworks.

Shoot them into Space

Of course what hubby would really like is to have his ashes go up in a real rocket! Here is the nearest to that I could find, based in Sheffield, Aura Flights use lighter-than-air gas balloons to carry your loved one’s ashes over 30km above the planet’s surface, to the region known as Near Space. In this serene and beautiful environment, the scatter vessel opens, allowing the ashes to pour out in a gentle cascade. You also get film of it happening. I have to say. its very moving.

Live on under the Sea

a mature stone at Solace ReefHow about being part of sustaining life under the sea? Artificial Reef Sanctuaries around the world are helping to create healthy environments where sea life can not only survive, but thrive again. Solace Reef are the first of its kind here in the UK, and will create an enduring living memorial for your loved one. Ashes will be placed in a Solace Stone, which over time will become part of the reefs future growth and protection. How beautiful is that!

Scatter them at Sea

Scattering a loved one’s ashes at sea can be a great send off, especially if they loved spending time at the beach or if they were a boating enthusiast. Most beaches and coastlines in the UK are accessible to the public and, unlike burial at sea, you do not require a license.

Bury them in the Garden

As long as you are the landowner, burying ashes in your own garden is perfectly acceptable in the UK. Choose a spot under a tree , or mark the spot with a beautiful rose or a plant that is special to you or them. Or maybe add a sprinkling of spring bulbs into the ground. But remember, if you sell your home one day, the new owner may not let you visit the spot where you buried them.

Tree Pod Burials

There are two options here. In both the ashes are placed in a biodegradable urn which can then either be buried and a tree planted above it (either on a green burial site or a woodland or any land with the land owners permission) , or the urn can be buried with the seed of a tree and grown completely from its beginnings. Again , wherever you bury them and plant the tree or seed you will need the land owners permission. Most official natural burial sites will stipulate the type of tree and may even only plant trees supplied by them.


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