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10 alternative ideas for a loved one’s cremation ashes

A photo montage featuring ways to memorialize a loved one with keepsakes made from funeral ashes, as described in this story

Scattering ashes, or making something meaningful from a loved one’s cremation ashes, can be an important step for the bereaved and something that can take place with plenty of time for contemplation after the funeral.

For some, scattering a loved one’s cremated ashes is an opportunity to celebrate their life and bid a final farewell. For others, turning ashes into jewelry, glass, or some other form of keepsake, is a way of keeping a little piece of them close to the heart.

The following interesting things to do with cremains are all special – and slightly different – ways to commemorate someone unique.

Ashes into ceramics – Become a centre piece

Cremation ashes and a ceramic coffee cup incoroprating them in the glaze finish

Chronicle Cremation Designs creates beautiful ceramics which can be finished with a glaze incorporating your loved one’s cremation ashes. Among the home design objects to choose are candle luminaries, bottles, coffee cups, urns and bowls, designed to be used as part of your everyday life, keeping a physical reminder of your loved one a continuing part of it.

Ashes into glass – Forever Vacation

A hand holds a glass paper weight with cremation ashes diffused inside Spirit Pieces curates the work of artists and craftspeople from Seattle to Dallas making glass memorial art, from paperweights to steampunk-style airships and jewelery, to commemorate special people in meaningful ways. Spirit Pieces is also behind the Forever Vacation Project, enabling bereaved families to commission pebble-sized memorial stones, infused with a loved one’s cremains. These can be given to family members or friends when they travel, to leave a little piece of your loved one at beautiful or historic places around the world.

Ashes into fireworks – Create a dazzling display

A burst of flower shaped fireworks in the night sky

Angels Flight fireworks incorporate cremains to create dazzling fireworks as part of the stunning farewell ceremonies they offer the bereaved in California. Families can choose to watch the scattering ashes dispersed in showers of stars and fountains of sparks from an ocean yacht, lakeside or beach, as part of specially choreographed displays.

Ashes into shotgun shells – Going out with a bang

Hunters in the woods with rifles

Alabama’s Holy Smoke makes shotgun, pistol and rifle cartridges from cremation ashes as a final tribute for outdoor lovers fond of hunting game or shooting clays. Made to order with your loved one’s cremated remains, you can also pre-need order and there’s a discount available to active duty and retired military, law enforcement and firefighters. State game wardens Clem Parnell and Thad Holmes developed this novel way of scattering ashes, to help celebrate a loved one’s life.

Ashes into coral – Become part of a living reef

A diver swims past an Eternal Reef memorial in the sea

The phrase ‘watery grave’ could be a positive thing for ocean-lovers, thanks to Florida-based company Eternal Reefs. It creates bell-shaped Reef Balls from a mix of concrete and cremation ashes, which are designed to sit on the ocean floor and become a new habitat for endangered corals, as well as other sea life.

Ashes in balloons – Float away towards the stars

A man holding a nuch of balloons, silhouetted in the evening sky Your loved one’s cremation ashes will float towards the heavens in one of Eternal Ascent’s enormous, biodegradable helium balloons, which are way bigger than the ordinary balloons pictured. When it reaches around six miles up in the sky, the balloon expands, freezes and breaks into pieces, scattering ashes to the four winds.

Ashes hourglass – Marking time’s passing

Sands trickle through an hourglass Combine your loved one’s cremains with the sands of time, in a keepsake hourglass urn, which can be engraved with their name, dates and a meaningful quotation. Keepsake Urns (not pictured) offer handcrafted hourglass urns in three sizes. An instruction kit is included detailing how to fill the urn with your loved one’s cremated remains.

Cremation ashes art – A life on canvas

Paints and brushes in a pot

Artist Adam Brown incorporates human ashes in his custom paintings, which are often portraits taken from a photo of the person who has passed. Besides memorial portraits, Adam, from Grandview, in Missouri, also uses funeral ashes to paint favorite scenes, sports or pastimes in a loved one’s memory. A lower-cost alternative is to choose an image from Adam’s gallery for printing on canvas, which can be overlaid with your loved-one’s cremains and sealed with resin.

Scattering ashes by airplane – Cloud surfing

A woman watches a plane fly by

Father and daughter team pilot Robert and Jamie can take your loved-one’s cremated remains on A Journey With Wings, scattering the cremation ashes from their airplane over a beautiful location. Flying over beautiful locations across southern California, The Sierra Nevada, Western Arizona, and Southern Nevada, you and your family can arrange to witness the event from the ground, or arrange to accompany your loved-one on the flight and release their cremains into the sky.

Ashes into jewelry – a gemstone ring to treasure

Two sparkling rings next to a photo of a starry galaxy Human ashes can be turned into all sort of beautiful jewels and gems. Lynn and Marion Cheney began turning ashes into jewelery they call Star Seed Gems, by combining a small amount of cremation ashes with a kind of glass originally developed to protect astronauts in space. Some look like opals and they absorb and release light to twinkle like the night sky, in their sterling silver settings. The Cheneys created their first gem in memory of their beloved son Michael, who died aged just 22, in 2006.