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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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.

10 Funny Funeral Poems for an Uplifting Service 0

Michael Ashby's A Long Cup of Tea, a funny funeral poem

‘Funny funeral poems’ might sound like a bit of a contradiction. But humour isn’t always out of place at a farewell. When we celebrate someone’s life, we celebrate all of it, all of the best things about them — and that can mean laughter as well as sadness.

Here, we’ve gathered together 10 popular funny funeral poems to inspire you. We hope you’ll find something your loved one would have giggled at.

 


Amy Roper's Pardon Me For Not Getting Up, one of our top 10 funny funeral poemsPardon Me For Not Getting Up by Kelly Roper

There’s puns galore in this poem by Kelly Roper, writer and hospice volunteer. It’s a popular light-hearted reading, especially in funerals for people who were always taking care of others.

Told from the perspective of someone who has died, Pardon Me For Not Getting Up asks funeral guests to excuse them from hosting this time — and asks them to go ahead and celebrate their life nevertheless.


 A Long Cup of Tea by Michael Ashby

Michael Ashby's A Long Cup of Tea, a funny funeral poem

Is this the most British funeral poem of all time? Perhaps. Full of sly jokes (‘Please pick the biggest mug you can find / Size really does matter at this time’) Michael Ashby’s funeral poem is perfect for someone who loved to kick back with a cuppa. And who doesn’t?


The Busman’s Prayer by Anon

The Busman's Prayer, one of our top 10 funny funeral poems
This parody of the Lord’s Prayer is one of the more original non-religious funny funeral poems. The version here is ideal for born-and-bred Londoners, but there are also versions for retired policemen and women (‘The Law’s Prayer’) and people in Derbyshire around.

You can, of course, also write your own. Simply swap out the London locations for local landmarks with a similar sound.


Death by Joe Brainard, one of our top 10 funny funeral poemsDeath by Joe Brainard

This wry, matter-of-fact poem by Joe Brainard has a lot of simple truth in it. And some very black humour. Noting that visualising death might help us not to be afraid, he adds:

“Try to visualize, for example, someone sneaking up behind
your back and hitting you over the head with a giant hammer.”

If your friend or relative was a straightforward sort of person with an appreciation for the darker variety of jokes, this could be the one.


Warning by Jenny Joseph

Jenny Joseph's Warning, one of the best funny funeral poems for mums.
This playful and funny funeral poem is all about how old age can be liberating — and how we’d act if we could just please ourselves all the time. It’s a wonderful funeral poem for anyone who spent their later years living life to the full.

It’s also an excellent message for us all: don’t let respectability get in the way of doing all the (silly) things that make you happy.


On a Tired Housewife, one of our top 10 funny funeral poems

On a Tired Housewife by Anon

This anonymous poem has something of a dark backstory. But it’s now one of the nation’s favourite comic poems.

In it, the reader explains that after a lifetime of hard work, she’s actually looking forward to a restful eternal sleep. This makes it one of the more fitting funny funeral poems for a friend or parent who was always busy looking after their family.


Untitled jisei by Moriya Sen’an

A jisei (death poem) by Moriya Sen'an
For some time, it was traditional in Japan for some people (the elite, samurai and monks in particular) to write short poems shortly before their death. Many of these jisei are beautiful and contemplative. Others, like this one, are comically frank and can have a place in funny funeral speeches.


Death by Sean Hughes, one of the best funny funeral poemsDeath by Sean Hughes

This poem, which describes Sean Hughes’ idea of a good funeral, is ideal for any ‘celebration of life’ style funeral service.

With free drinks and new friendships being forged, it actually does sound like a great way to send someone off. The poem was in fact read at Hughes’ own funeral.


I Didn’t Go To Church Today by Ogden Nash

I Didn't Go to Church Today, one of our top 10 funny funeral poems by Ogden Nash
In this quietly comic poem, the narrator explains why he skipped church that morning: the day was too beautiful not to spend at the beach. It’s a sweet piece about appreciating a perfect moment.

Although light-hearted, the poem does have comfort for those at a funeral. As Nash shares, God will likely understand. After all, ‘He knows when I am said and done / We’ll have plenty of time together’.


Last Will and Testament by Will Scratchmann

Last Will and Testament by Will Scratchmann, one of the best funny funeral poems
This short-but-sweet piece by Will Scratchmann could be a funny funeral poem for a dad. But behind the humour is a positive message about what we want for our loved ones after we’re gone. Not a lifetime of sadness, but a lot of joy (and parties!) in time.


 

One last note on funny funeral poems…

Giving a ‘funny’ reading at a funeral can be a bit nerve-wracking. What if it goes down badly? The best thing to ask yourself is what the person who has died would have thought. Does the poem sound like them? Is it something they might have found funny? After all, the day is all about them. And if you need advice on public speaking, take a look at our top tips from funeral celebrants.

Didn’t find the right funeral poem today? Not to worry. We have a round up of 33 beautiful non-religious funeral poems here to help you in your search.