The Unexpected Rise of Cremation Jewellery 0

cremation jewellery
If you stopped someone on the street 15 years ago and asked them whether they had any human ashes on them, they would have thought you were mad.
 
Now – well, they’ll probably still think you’re mad – but you’re far more likely to get a “yes” for an answer. More and more people are carrying a loved one’s ashes with them in ‘keepsake’ jewellery. A once-tiny industry is suddenly flourishing. But why this, and why now?
 

Memorial jewellery has a history

This is not a new thing. The Victorians (ever morbid) were keen on memorial jewellery of all kinds. Often made from jet and other black materials, these pieces fit with the strict mourning dress code of the day
 
At the time, British cremation was still in its infancy. So, Victorian memorial jewellery didn’t usually contain ashes. But many pieces contained a small memento, like a lock of hair. They were a way to show the world that you treasured a loved one’s memory.
 
Eventually, memorial jewellery fell out of fashion. People were living longer, and by WWI the culture around death and mourning had shifted. But the precedent was set…
 

Attitudes towards cremation have changed

Cremation was controversial at first. The British Home Office banned the first crematorium from use shortly after its construction. It took years (and lawsuits) before cremations could regularly take place.
 
But, by the late 1960s, the number of families choosing this option had overtaken burial. And as that number grew, there was a gradual shift in what people decided to do with the ashes, as well.
 
In the 60s, around 80% of families buried or scattered ashes in the remembrance garden at the crematorium. Now, that figure is completely reversed, with 80% of families taking the ashes away with them. 
 
Preferences have also shifted away from the big-urn-on-the-mantlepiece towards scattering. People often don’t want the ashes (and there are alot of ashes) in the house. While it can be comforting to keep a loved one close by, large urns can be intimidating, and the question of where to put them equally daunting
 
By comparison, scattering the ashes on a hillside or river has real romantic appeal. It can feel like more of a final resting place. A small ceremony, somewhere that resonates with the person they love, can offer a kind of closure. In fact, 79% of people who want a cremation would like their ashes scattered.
 


A happy medium

Ashes jewellery

But scattering does have drawbacks. More than a few people who have scattered ashes have found themselves missing them. By then, it’s too late to do anything about it. So, many of us have started to wonder if there was a way to do both: put the person to rest, but also keep them close. 

 
Enter ashes jewellery. Families can scatter most of the ashes, and keep a small amount back to place in a locket or ring. And over the last few years, this way of memorialising someone seems to have blossomed. Now, there is a wide selection of ashes jewellery to choose from. From hollow pendants to clever pieces with the ashes held in glass or resin, there’s something for everyone
 
But, unlike Victorian memorial pieces, these new designs are subtle. Rather than broadcasting the owner’s loss, they allow the wearer to feel close to their loved one – without anyone the wiser.
 

Future or fad?

Only time will tell if ashes jewellery is a brief fashion or here to stay. But most people are at least aware of the option, and a number of companies have sprung up to meet this need. It’s also possible we’ll never know quite how popular ashes jewellery is. After all, with the new pieces being so discreet, who else is to know you’re wearing them – unless you tell them …
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Who Can and Can’t Go to a Funeral? Coronavirus Update 0

At the moment, it’s absolutely crucial that everyone does their best not to spread Covid-19, for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones. 

Stopping large gatherings is a big part of that — but it has consequences for funerals, which are normally a chance for family, friends and the whole community to say goodbye. 

For now, funerals are still allowed in the UK, unlike some other countries. But there are strict guidelines on who can and can’t go. These are important: they help keep mourners, funeral professionals and their families safe. 

Here’s what you need to know.

 

Who is allowed to go to a funeral at the moment?

The government has said that only close family members and people who were living with the person who has died should attend a funeral.

Close family includes:

  • A husband, wife or partner
  • Parents or carers
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Children and their partners

If a grandparent has died, their grandchildren may come to the funeral. And if the person who died didn’t have much close family, a few close friends may come instead.

But be aware that some crematoria are still limiting numbers to 10 or less mourners. This is so that proper social distancing can still be followed, even in small venues. Your funeral director will tell you before the service if there’s a limit.

We know this is hard. You want everyone to be able to say goodbye, and you’re worried that this won’t feel like a proper send-off. But small ceremonies can still be very special. And when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, you’ll still be able to have a proper memorial service that everyone can attend.

 

Who can’t go to a funeral, even if they are close family?

Even if you’re a close family member, or one of the other people listed above, you should still stay home and avoid the funeral if you are:

  • At higher risk of becoming seriously ill. If you’re over 70, pregnant, or have a medical condition that may increase your risk (see a list here), stay home.
  • Are meant to be self-isolating. For example because you’ve had contact with someone with Covid-19 or have travelled back from a high-risk area.
  • Have Covid-19 symptoms. The main coronavirus symptoms are a high temperature and a continuous cough, although a few people have reported a sore throat, stomach troubles and mild cold symptoms.

If you’re one of the people who has to stay home, don’t feel like you aren’t doing right by the person who has died. They would want you to be safe. We have some ideas to help you say goodbye in your own way here.

 

How can families and their funeral directors help people who can’t go?

If you like, there are ways to help people who can’t go to the funeral pay their respects. Here are some possibilities:

 

Live streaming the funeral

Friends and family could log on and watch the funeral service online as it happens. Your funeral director or staff at the crematoria or cemetery should be able to help you set this up.

If not, video chat services like Zoom or Google Hangouts can help. Just be aware that some free services have a time limit or a set number of people who can join.

 

A special funeral procession route

Your funeral director may be able to change the funeral procession route so that you drive past the homes of friends and family who live locally. They can stand in their doorways, windows or driveways and clap or wave to show their respect and support.

With this option, it’s important not to forget the rules on social distancing. Make sure everyone knows to stay 2 metres apart from people not from their household.

 

Share the time and date of the funeral

Even if someone can’t attend, they can still have a moment of silence, light a candle or find their own way to pay tribute to the person who has died at home. It may help you all feel close to each other if you do this at the same time.

 

Make them part of the service

It can be very powerful to read out the names of the people who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it. Some families are doing this during an outdoor dove release, which is a beautiful way to make a small ceremony feel special.

 

Give an update after the funeral

You may like to call some people to tell them how the service went, or send emails or make a social media post with pictures. If you’ve made an order of service for the funeral, you could also share this with people who couldn’t attend. It’s okay to wait a few days or ask a friend to pass the information on for you if it’s too much to handle right now.

 

Make an online memorial page

This is an amazing way for people who can’t attend the funeral to share memories of the person who died, write messages of support, and even upload pictures and videos of them for everyone to enjoy. You can make an online memorial page for free with us here.

Your funeral director will also have some ideas, and will be happy to talk you through them. 

 

Get the support you need

Losing someone you love is always overwhelming. But it’s particularly hard right now.

If you need someone to talk to 

  • Cruse Bereavement Care offer free advice for bereaved people and a support line to chat: 0808 808 1677.
  • The Samaritans help line is open 24/7 if you’d just like to talk: 116 123.

If you need help with funeral costs

  • Beyond’s guide to government, charity and other sources of financial aid can be found here.
  • You can also get free advice from Down to Earth, an organisation that supports people struggling with funeral costs: 020 8983 5055.

9 Creative Ways to Remember Someone Who Has Died 0

Ways to remember someone who has died

When you lose someone, one of the scariest things about it is the idea that you might forget them. Or that the memory of losing them will overshadow the happier times you spent together. The good news is this: you won’t forget them, ever. We promise. And there are ways of remembering someone who has died that can help you celebrate all the great things about them. Here are some suggestions…

 

9 special things to do to remember someone who has died

Not sure how to remember someone who has died? We hope you’ll find some inspiration here.

 

  1. Start a tradition for their birthday

Find something that helps you feel close to them, and do it each year. For example, you could:

  • Do something your loved one liked to do
  • Take a trip to a place that meant something to you both
  • Have a big family dinner and raise a toast – and invite their close friends
  • Light a candle for them in the evening

Build on what you know about them. Take a class in something they knew well. Go on their favourite dog walk. Take the day off and make all their favourite foods.

“My sister and I go to a 40s event on Mum’s birthday each year,” explains Rachel, a funeral arranger at our Aylesbury branch. “She was a child of the 40s, and it helps us remember how life would have been for her growing up.”

 

  1. Talk to them

Japanese wind telephoneWe all have things we wish we could tell people who are no longer with us. Why not just give it a try? You could wait until you have a quiet moment alone to say what you want to say aloud. Or visit their grave or scattering place to speak to them.

While this might feel a little odd at first, a lot of people find comfort in these talks. After the 2011 tsunami in Japan, one bereaved relative set up a disconnected ‘wind telephone’ in his garden so that he could talk to the family he lost. Since then, people from all over the area have come to talk to their loved ones.

 

  1. Take a trip 

Go somewhere your loved one always wanted to go, do something they always wanted to do. A once-in-a-lifetime trip can be a fantastic way for a family to heal together after a rough year.

 

  1. Keep something of theirs close by

Ash Glass Design's cremation glass mourning ringThis could be something as simple as wearing their jewellery or watch every day. Or clothing: a favourite shirt could be worn, turned into a cushion, or framed to make art. Believe it or not, there is also a company that turns the clothing of people who have died into teddy bears. 

Another (slightly more unusual) way of remembering someone special who has died is to get their ashes made into jewellery. Specialist craftspeople can suspend the ashes in glass or resin beads and place them in pendants, earrings, bracelets or rings. 

 

  1. Go big with a firework displayfriends scattering ashes firework on a boat

A memorial fireworks display can be a lovely way to remember someone special. Team it with plenty of friends and family, some of your loved one’s favourite music, and some toasty hot drinks for a unique and cosy celebration of life.

The important thing here is safety. Always buy your fireworks from a registered seller or licenced shop and check that they are suitable for home use. Make sure bystanders are standing back as far as is recommended for that firework. You can find more safety advice here.

What about balloon, lantern, butterfly and dove launches? Here, it’s important to do your research to minimise the impact on local wildlife and pets. Always use biodegradable materials.

 

  1. Get something dedicated to them

Not sure if the traditional park bench is the best way of remembering someone who has died? There are all kinds of alternatives…

  • For lovers of the performing arts, you can dedicate theatre, opera, or concert hall seats
  • Football ground seats are a great way to remember fans of the beautiful game
  • For music lovers, you can call in to your local radio station and dedicate their favourite song to them on their birthday
  • You can get a rose named in memory of someone special, and give cuttings to family and friends
  • Or dedicate a tree (or an acre of woodland) to them with the Woodland Trust

 

  1. Write to them

Writing a letter to remember someone who has diedWhen you’re struggling with something – anything – writing can be very therapeutic.  So, writing a letter to a loved one who has died can be a lovely way to feel connected to them and work through your grief. Letters can be kept or ‘posted’ by burying them at the grave or scattering site. Other ideas are placing them in a fire or even sending them down a river in boat form. 

Not much of a letter writer? You’re not alone. When writer Rax King tweeted about the emails she sent her dad after he died, thousands of other people came forward to say that they did the same. Or sent texts, or g-chat messages. While it’s best not to actually press ‘send’ on these (numbers can be reallocated to other people, email accounts closed) just the act of writing can bring comfort. 

 

  1. Support a cause that mattered to them

Is there a cause your loved one cared deeply about that you could support? Or would you like to raise money for a charity that fights their final illness, or supports families like yours?

One of the best ways to remember someone who has died is to build something positive with their legacy. You could…

  • Set up an online crowdfunding obituary that asks friends and family to donate
  • Organise a fundraiser or do a charity run to raise money
  • Sign up to donate a small amount each month in their memory
  • Set up a scholarship or endowment at their old school, college or uni
  • Launch a charitable trust or foundation of your own to lobby for a cause
  • Sponsor a child (or even an animal) through a charity

 

  1. Visit their grave or scattering place

Forget-me-not flowersYour loved one’s grave, or the place where their ashes were scattered, can feel very meaningful. There’s comfort to be had in just giving yourself some time to sit with them there. 

If you like, you can also bring a wreath, bouquet or (land owner permitting) something to plant. In Victorian times, people would often use flowers to send messages: each one had a special meaning. This old mourning custom is still a lovely way to express how you feel. E.g. rosemary for remembrance, white periwinkle for happy memories, an oak-leaved geranium for true friendship or marigolds for grief. 

Then again, a bouquet of your loved one’s favourites is an equally thoughtful gesture. At natural burial grounds, where planting rules are strict, a scattering of native wildflowers can also be a beautiful way to remember someone who has died.

 

Share your favourite ways to remember someone who has died

How do you remember the special people you’ve lost? Share your suggestions with other bereaved families in the comment section below. We’d love to hear your stories.