After someone close to you has been cremated, there’s an inevitable question: what to do with the ashes? Luckily, with over 70% of Brits choosing cremation these days, there are a LOT of options to choose from. If you’re feeling a little lost, our list of creative ideas below is sure to have something that speaks to you.
25 unique and special ideas for a loved one’s ashes
If you’re not sure what to do with the ashes after a cremation in the UK, there’s something for everyone here.
Done well, a scattering ceremony on the ocean can be one of the most beautiful things to do with ashes.
Unlike sea burial, you don’t need a licence to scatter ashes at sea: you can simply charter a boat. But keep an eye on the weather and other seafarers. On windy days, a floating urn may be smarter than scattering.
One of our more unusual ideas for ashes. UK-based company And Vinyly promise to help loved ones ‘live on beyond the grave’ by pressing them into a playable vinyl record.
The record is completely personalised: you can choose the tracks, customise the record cover, and even send a voice recording to be included. Perfect for musicians and those who always needed to be dragged off the dance floor at the end of a night.
For someone with a lot of spark! There are a few companies around now that offer custom fireworks that can contain a person’s ashes. A display can be a dramatic and powerful tribute that the family will remember fondly.
Set up an evening bonfire, gather round and watch your loved one light up the sky.
4. Turn them into diamonds
Thanks to the miracles of 21st century science, it’s possible to turn the ashes of your loved one into a diamond. Natural diamonds take between 1 to 3.3 billion years to be created, but luckily there is a shortcut: with plenty of heat and pressure in a lab, you can bring that down to around 24 weeks.
Yes, this one’s a bit bizarre. But one person’s nightmare fuel is another’s touching memorial, so why not look into Cremation Solution’s 3D printed personal urns? You send the company a few different pictures of your loved one, and they send back a (slightly uncanny) urn in the shape of their head.
If you’re not sure what to do with the ashes after a cremation, but know it needs to frighten small children, this is the answer.
Watch your loved one’s ashes float down from a vintage WWII Spitfire or Piper Cub as it passes over the funeral.
There’s something about the sight of these old fighter planes that speaks to most Brits. Whether your loved one was a veteran, loved planes, or was just a fighter themselves, this scattering ashes idea never fails to impress.
7. Give them a Viking send-off
A true warrior’s farewell: place the ashes in this replica longboat urn, float it out on the water, and set it alight. Best for an evening ceremony, when the light of the flames is clearest and the sheer drama of the ceremony can cast its spell.
An amazing, if unusual, idea for ashes. The quaffing of mead and roasting of hog is entirely optional.
8. Let them hit the dance floor
If you’re not sure what to do with a loved one’s ashes but know they would have wanted a big gesture, you could give them to their favourite band to scatter on stage.
Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten may have gotten some stick last year for accidentally inhaling superfan Stuart Clark’s ashes, but with a little more competence this can be a very rewarding gesture.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to special ideas for scattering ashes! Or is it? Ascension Flights will take your loved one’s cremated remains to the ‘edge of space’ in a serene high-altitude balloon. There, the ashes will be released, swirling a little in the stratosphere before gently descending to earth.
10. …or venture beyond
Technically, the stratosphere isn’t space. So, for people whose loved ones would have wanted to explore that final frontier for real, there’s Celestis.
Based in the US, this company will take ashes or DNA up in a rocket, releasing them into orbit or taking them on a deep space voyage. At £3,928 to £9,830, this is one of the most expensive things you can do with ashes. But for true space enthusiasts, it can be a fitting way to prove that you love them to the moon and back.
11. Take them out on a traditional canal boat
If you’d like a quiet, intimate family scattering, this is a lovely idea. Rent a genuine vintage narrow boat from Canal Holidays for a weekend and scatter the ashes on the river in an early morning ceremony. Our guide here explains what to do with cremation ashes in a waterside ceremony.
12. Fire them out of a cannon
Famous gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson chose this option for his ashes: to have them fired out of a cannon. If you don’t have access to a standard military cannon (and let’s face it, who does?) the Loved One Launcher from Cremation Solutions is a neat alternative, firing ashes up to 70 feet into the air.
Cami-Bear make memorial teddy bears with an opening in the back for a small amount of ashes.
These huggable urns are popular among parents who have lost a child and in families where small children are grieving. A comforting and discreet memento.
14. Plant them with a tree and watch it grow
A tree burial is a thoughtful option for gardeners and other nature lovers. Nowadays, you can get special biodegradable urns that are designed to mingle ashes with a special blend of nutrients to help a tree grow. As time passes, you can sit beneath the shade of the tree and remember your loved one.
If you think you might move home in the future, consider a tree or a bush that’s designed to grow in a pot – that way, you can take it with you wherever you go.
In ancient times, our ancestors kept the bones and ashes of their dead in sacred earthen barrows, where important ceremonies were held. Sacred Stones is reviving that tradition, with two stunning replica barrows so far in Cambridgeshire and Wiltshire. Ashes are kept in niches inside the candlelit barrow, often behind unique stone plaques. Find out more about Sacred Stones here.
16. Scatter them via remote control helicopter
One of the more unique answers to the question of what to do with ashes in the UK! Angels Away will take your loved one’s ashes up in a cute remote control helicopter for an aerial tour of their favourite place, before releasing them into the air.
A lot of us like to get tattoos memorialising our loved ones – but you can go one step further. A few tattoo studios in the UK now offer memorial tattoos: the artist mixes some of your loved one’s ashes in with their tattoo ink and uses it to create a unique, personal design. Bubblegum Ink in Cheshire have an interesting post about their method here.
18. Keep them in a garden birdbath
Haddonstone create impressive stone memorial birdbaths for families to keep in their gardens. The ashes are held in a container in the base. Not just one for birdwatchers, it’s a subtle way to keep the ashes of your loved one close by while also doing something for the local wildlife.
19. Let them swim with the fishes
Many people would be disconcerted to hear that they’d end up encased in concrete and nourishing life on the ocean floor. But Solace Reef isn’t some mafia offshoot: an eco-friendly initiative, they cast ashes into concrete pyramids and use them to create an artificial reef that helps fish and plant life flourish. One of the more environmentally-friendly things to do with a loved one’s ashes.
Most of us have fond memories of a perfect holiday spot: perhaps it’s that place you took in the view at the top of a hill, or a sunny beach you spent hours basking on. For those wondering what to do with ashes after a cremation, taking them to a place that’s special to you as a family can be an easy, thoughtful option. You can find out more about taking ashes abroad here.
21. Take them skydiving
Not for the faint of heart! UK-based Your Wings will take you up for a tandem skydive, during which you can release your loved one’s ashes into the open sky.
22. Turn them into colourful windchimes
Memorial Windchimes will take the ashes of your loved one and swirl them into brightly hued glass windchimes. Hang them in the garden or a window and enjoy the way they gently tinkle in the breeze. A good option for those looking for things to do with cremated ashes but still want to keep them close to home.
23. Strap them to your motorcycle
If the open road was your loved one’s favourite place to be, Final Ride’s motorcycle cremation urn might be the answer. This chrome-plated solid steel canister attaches to your vehicle, so that you and your loved one can ride off into the sunset together.
Memorial jewellery – also known as ‘keepsakes’ – are designed to hold a tiny amount of ashes. The ashes can be swirled through glass or kept in a tiny compartment.
Memorial jewellery can be a thoughtful way of keeping your loved one close by you, especially on special occasions. Brides wondering what to with someone’s ashes, like a parent’s, on their wedding day might consider a small blue glass ring or pendant as their something blue, for example.
25. Keep them at home
While most families choose to scatter their loved ones’ ashes these days, keeping them at home is still a popular option. It doesn’t have to be an impersonal choice, either: check out our guide here to see some of the most unusual and creative urns available in the UK.