When a family member or friend passes, there is often a lot to do. This includes deciding on cremation or burial (if plans were not made ahead of time), letting family and friends know about the passing, organizing a funeral or memorial service, getting all of their affairs in order, and much more. While the decision to bury a loved one at a cemetery can be relatively straightforward, families who choose cremation have more options. With the increase in the amount of people choosing cremation, there are a number of new memorial options now available. In addition, dividing ashes of a loved one is an option many families are now electing to do - they are able to honor, celebrate, and memorialize their loved one in more than one way.
Why Divide Ashes of a Loved One?
There are many reasons why families choose to divide ashes of a loved one and have multiple memorials. We’ve outlined a few of the more common ones below:
- Each Family Member Wants Their Own Memorial: Many times individual family members have different ideas, wishes and needs and it is simpler to share the ashes and allow each member to keep them or use them in a way that is important or meaningful to them. In addition, in many cases families are spread out throughout the country and each prefers to have a portion of the ashes with them.
- Can’t Decide on Just One Memorial: With the growing number of unique memorial options available for families who choose cremation (as outlined below), many people can’t just decide on one memorial. There is no reason you can’t have multiple memorials. Many families do this and most memorial options work with as little or as much of a person’s cremated ashes as desired.
- Multiple Memory Trees: Many people love the idea of The Living Urn’s patented tree urn and planting system that grows a living tree memorial and some want to have multiple tree memorials planted – this could include one for each family member, one at a hometown and the other on their favorite golf course, one at their church and another at home, and so on.
Below are some of the most common choices made when families divide up ashes of a loved one:
Storing Ashes in a Traditional Urn
Some families or family members want to keep some or all of the cremated remains with them or at a permanent location such as a columbarium. When this is the case, they will often purchase a traditional urn that is representative of their loved one. There are many traditional wooden and metal urns available that are meant to be kept indoors or in a columbarium. Your local funeral home will typically have many options to choose from and, with a quick online search, you can find hundreds of these types of urns in many shapes, sizes, and colors.
Plant One or More Tree Memorials
A tree memorial is a beautiful way to honor and commemorate a loved one. This living memorial can be planted in yard, at a Memory Forest, at a church, park, golf course or other place of your choosing (some places may require permission, so it is recommended to check first before planting).
The Living Urn is the leading bio urn and planting system available and can be found in hundreds of funeral homes all over the U.S. This unique planting system gives families the ability to grow an enduring memory tree from the biodegradable urn containing the cremated ashes of a loved one. The Living Urn is designed to be used with as much or as little of one set of cremated ashes as desired. Therefore, since The Living Urn can be used with any amount of ashes, families can grow a memorial tree with Living Urn in addition to having other plans or uses for some of the ashes. Also, many families will split up the cremated ashes and each family member will grow a memory tree with a Living Urn. For these families, The Living Urn even offers a Family Tree Program which discounts the prices when more than one are purchased.
A popular option with cremated ashes is to have them scattered at one or more meaningful locations. Families may choose to scatter all of the ashes or just a portion. Many families hold ceremonies that include scattering ashes at one or more locations that have special meaning to the family or the deceased. This can include a favorite park, beach, lake, river, hiking trail, vacation destination, childhood home, or even at home in the yard.
Scattering can be done with a simple container, or with an urn specifically designed to scatter ashes. One of the most popular choice for scattering urns is the patented Eco Scattering because it is designed to allow families to scatter ashes with control and grace. In addition, this unique urn has an elegant look and is one of the most eco-friendly options as it is made from bamboo and completely biodegradable (and not made from processed and screen printed cardboard like other scattering urn options on the market). This patented urn has a proprietary open and close mechanism on top to give you the ability to scatter with control and ease. It also allows you to scatter at more than one location and is TSA compliant for travel. The Eco Scattering Urn is available in several sizes to fit the needs of the family depending how much of the cremated remains will be scattered.
Many families choose to bury a portion or all of their loved one’s ashes at a meaningful place. This can be done at a cemetery, memorial park, or even at home or at another place special to your lost loved one (permission may be required, so be sure to check first). If it’s at a cemetery you may need to use an urn and urn vault for the burial, however, for people who choose other special places, many are using biodegradable burial urns. A popular biodegradable option is Eco Burial, which is all natural and made from bamboo. This unique urn is affordable and dignified. Because it will not biodegrade unless it is placed in the ground, many families will use the Eco Burial Urn as a permanent urn in the house and others will keep it in the home for months or even years before burial.
A memorial that is growing in popularity is a water burial, or burial at sea. This includes freeing your loved one’s ashes in a body of water that may have meaning to the family or the deceased. Some families choose to have ceremonies on a boat prior to and during the water burial. The water burial can be done with a scattering urn, or an urn designed to be used for a water burial such as Eco Water. This patent pending water urn is a very popular choice and is designed to float like a buoy for a short period of time and then release the ashes, allowing them to freely disperse into the water. Besides its functionality, it is also popular due its sleek look. Families like that it comes in an attractive bamboo container, which protects the Eco Water Urn during transport and provides a nice touch for ceremonies. The Eco Water Urn is also unique as it can be used with any amount of cremated ashes, one full set or just a portion, and the instructions included explain simple adjustments when including different amounts.
Another urn designed to gracefully spread ashes in a body of water is the Flow ice urn. This unique patented urn is made entirely of ice and provides for a beautiful way to memorialize a loved one in a truly eco-friendly urn.
Many families will choose to keep a small portion of the cremated remains in a piece of jewelry, such as a necklace. Your local funeral home will have many different options available for you to see and also there are a lot of beautiful options available online as well.
Keepsakes are a good choice if someone wants to keep a small portion of cremated ashes. There are a lot of options for keepsake urns including small wood, metal or plastic containers. Also, families may choose to create an art piece to store some of the ashes, like a decorative glass piece. There are many types of decorative glass pieces available – check with your local funeral home or search online for some artists making beautiful glass art for cremated ashes. The small size Eco Scattering Urn is also a common choice for a keepsake urn as it is attractive, simple and inexpensive. It will not biodegrade unless it is placed outdoors in soil or water and can be used as a permanent keepsake. Or, it can be used as a keepsake and later used to scatter.
Which Memorial is Right for You or Your Loved One?
How to memorialize yourself or a loved one is a family or personal decision. Dividing cremated ashes is a common practice and can provide options and make it easier for family and friends to each remember and pay tribute to their lost loved one in their own personal way.