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What to do with ashes after a cremation

A cremation gives you a choice in where your loved one’s final resting place, but it can be difficult to decide where that will be. There are a lot of options to choose from, so if you’re feeling a little lost, we hope our list of things to do with ashes will help you and your family make the decision.


What to do with ashes

There are a few main ways ashes are used after a loved one dies. People may choose to:

- scatter the ashes
- hold a memorial service or celebration of life
- inter the ashes
- use the ashes in jewellery or keepsakes
- keep the ashes at home


Scattering ashes

The most popular option in the UK is to scatter ashes, often in a place that was special to your loved one and family, perhaps a local park or a beauty spot that they loved.

When choosing the location to scatter your loved one’s ashes, you may find that busy areas do not allow you the privacy to say goodbye to your loved one in the way you might have liked. If you would prefer no one to be around, then you should pick a particularly quiet spot, or perhaps choose a time of day when it is less busy.

Simplicity can organise a special resting place for your loved one at one of our preferred crematoria if you wish, marked with a memorial stone, which you can visit at any time. Should the cemetery allow it, you can also scatter or bury the ashes on another family member’s grave.

The law in the UK states that ashes can be scattered in most places, with the consent of the landowner. So, of course, you may do this on your own land, although you should consider how long the garden or land will be in the family’s possession for visiting purposes. You can also scatter ashes at sea or in a river with no issues – as long as they are inside a biodegradable urn, or if they are just scattered straight into the water. Some areas of the UK have environmental restrictions in place, so if you're scattering ashes on public land, check with the local authority first.

See our ideas for places to scatter ashes.


Hold a memorial service or celebration of life with the ashes present

You may have chosen a direct cremation for a loved one who has passed away so that you could arrange your own memorial service or celebration of life for them with the ashes present afterwards. A direct cremation allows you and your family to have your own commemoration service, at a time and place away from the crematorium.

The scattering of ashes at a memorial service or a celebration of life is also a popular choice. If you plan to scatter the ashes as part of the ceremony, you could carefully consider your chosen location of the service.


Interment of ashes

Another option is to have your loved one’s ashes interred. The interment of ashes is a procedure of placing the ashes in a permanent location. Ashes can be interred in several ways, including in a cemetery, a natural burial ground, on private land or a columbarium.  

The interment of ashes is a good option for families with a particular religious faith (such as Catholics), families that already have other members of the family buried at a specific location or those that want the permanence and sense of tradition that a burial can provide.

Learn more about the interment of ashes.


Unique things to do with ashes

Many families are looking for more adventurous things to do with ashes, to reflect the personality of their loved one.

There are many unique things you can do with your loved one’s ashes as well as unique ways you can keep them close to you. We’ve listed 10 unique things you can do to give you some inspiration, from turning the ashes into a beautiful piece of jewellery, shooting the ashes into space or creating a vinyl record.


Keep the ashes at home

You should not feel pressured into doing something with the ashes. For some people, the scattering of ashes feels very final. You may instead wish to keep your loved one’s ashes at home in an urn, where they can be close to you.

You could, of course, choose to divide the ashes, perhaps scattering or doing something unique with a small amount of the ashes, and keeping the remainder of the ashes at home with you.

Whatever you choose to do with your loved one’s ashes, you should take the time to think about your decision and to choose something special to you and your family.

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