Not Sure What to Do with Ashes After a Cremation? Here’s 25 Unique Ideas to Inspire You 2

Ways to remember someone who has died

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.

 

1. Take them out on the ocean waves

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.

Find out more about scattering ashes at sea here.

 

ashes pressed in vinyl record2. Say a vinyl goodbye

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.

 

3. Help them go out with a bang

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.

 

5. Let them rest in a 3D-printed replica of their face

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.

 

6. Scatter them from a vintage fighter plane

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.

 

This Viking longboat urn is one of the most impressive unusual urns for ashes around

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.

 

what to do with ashes - send them into space9. Send a balloon up into the stratosphere

The sky is no longer the limit when it comes to special ideas for scattering ashes! Aura Flights will take your loved one’s cremated remains to the edge of space in a unique scattering vessel, carried by high-altitude balloon. There, the ashes will be released in front of a camera, capturing the moment in a memorial film. They’ll travel around the globe on stratospheric winds for weeks before returning to earth as rainfall or snow.

 

10. Pack them into bullets

For excellent marksmen and those who just loved to hunt, there’s My Holy Smoke. Tell the team what kind of hunting or shooting your loved one enjoyed, and they’ll place their ashes into bespoke live ammunition for firing. This option’s US-only for now, but watch this space.

 

 

canal boat - what to do with ashes

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.

 

13. Hold them close with a cuddly toyteddy bear - what to do with ashes

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

Capsula Mundi Ashes

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.

 

15. Keep them in a Neolithic-style barrow

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.

 

17. Celebrate them with a memorial tattoo

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.

 

ideas for ashes - bird on rose bush

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.

 

things to do with ashes - take them abroad20. Scatter them in a favourite holiday spot

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

What to do with ashes - 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.

 

24. Keep them close with memorial jewellery

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.

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Nervous About Speaking at a Funeral? Try These Celebrant-Approved Tricks 0

Man looking nervous in church

Standing up to speak at a funeral can be rewarding … and terrifying. 

But in a situation where the advice ‘imagine everyone in the audience naked’ is deeply unhelpful, how do you overcome nervousness and say what you need to say? We asked four celebrants for their advice. 

 

To prepare…

 

writing a funeral speech1) Write your speech down

“Unless you’re really accomplished and used to speaking in public, it’s absolutely essential to write your words down,” says Clive Pashley from Premier Celebrants. Not only will the script keep you on track, but it can be comforting to read your words later on. Otherwise, “you often don’t remember much of it.”

“Do not ad lib,” stresses Yorkshire-based celebrant Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy, citing a vicar who, despite all his experience, repeatedly got the widow’s name wrong during a eulogy. “That’s when things go to pot.” 

 

2) Practise before the funeral

Practice makes perfect. “But not too much,” warns Adrienne, “because you want it to sound natural, rather than stilted.” 

This has two benefits. The first, explains Clive, is emotional. Reading the piece through a few times can take some of the sting out of them.  “The more you read it, the more you deal with those emotions. Then it’s not such a shock on the day.”

The second is to simply rehearse your delivery, and make any last edits. “Get somebody to listen to you practise,” advises Adrienne. “They can give you tips about which points you need to emphasise and when to stop and breathe.”

 

3) Type your final draft out 

Woman types out funeral speechMicrosoft Word is your friend, says Clive, who recommends putting the whole speech in size 16 or 18 font to make it easy to read. Add double spaces after full stops and keep paragraphs to six lines or less.

“If you’ve got just a massive solid body of text, you can easily lose your place,” he explains. “It really hinders the flow of the delivery.”

His final tip? Gobbledegook. “Often, the end of the speech is when you get overcome by emotion. But if you type out a few lines of gobbledegook after your final paragraph, it can trick your brain into thinking there’s more to come, so you don’t well up. I promise you it works!”

 

When the time comes for your funeral speech…

 

4) Breathe in, breathe out

All our celebrants agreed on this: after each full stop, remember to breathe. And take a longer, slower breath at the end of each six line paragraph. Start as you mean to go on:

“Take a deep breath and drop your shoulders,” suggests Kate Mitchell, who acts as a celebrant in the South East. “Then, fix your eyes at the back of the hall – but low, so you’re not looking above people’s heads. The main doors are usually a good point to focus on.

“Place your finger on where you are – if your eyes are blurry it’s easy to lose your place – then look up, smile, take another deep breath and begin.”

“Try to deliberately speak slowly. You might feel like it’s too slow, but it’s really going to be a normal pace.”

5) Pace yourself

“Take your time,” says Kate. When a natural pause comes, use it. “One very good suggestion is to sweep your eyes around everybody regularly,” she adds.

Adrienne agrees, warning against fast, “monotonous” speaking. “At the end of a paragraph when you are taking your breath, look up and make eye contact.”

“When people are anxious and nervous, they speak faster than usual,” explains Clive. “Stand close to the microphone and try to deliberately speak slowly. You might feel like it’s too slow, but it’s really going to be a normal pace.”

 

6) Don’t worry about getting upset

Woman holding a man's hand to give support“The number one thing people worry about is emotion,” says Melanie Sopp, interfaith minister. “The idea that ‘I won’t be able to hold it together and I’ll cry and it will be a mess.’ But it’s natural to be emotional.”

If you do break down, don’t beat yourself up, says Adrienne. “It is emotional and it is difficult – and people will understand that. Just say you’re sorry, take a moment and then continue when you’re ready.”

Kate agrees. “No one’s expecting you to find this easy.  If you start to feel upset, or that you need to stop, do stop. Just take a deep breath and say, ‘I’m finding this very hard.’ Be honest.”

It’s also perfectly normal to ask someone else to step in and finish your speech for you if you do become overwhelmed. “Never be afraid to ask for help,” says Melanie.

 

7) Remember, it’s worth it

Speaking at a funeral can be stressful, but it’s also very rewarding, says Melanie. “If someone thinks that they’d like to do it, then I always encourage them, because I think it can help. It can even be a healthy part of the grieving process.”

Once you’ve made up your mind, “don’t let anyone talk you out of it!” she adds. “If it’s important to you, do it. 

“You’ll never, ever regret it.”

 

And for more inspiration…

Not yet written your funeral speech? Check out our guide on what to say in a eulogy or tribute here. And for inspiration, you can’t beat our piece on funeral speech examples. It’s filled with touching and even funny eulogies from real people.

 


Meet the celebrants

Clive Pashley started Premier Celebrants with his friend, James Greely, in 2016. They were later joined by Rachel Nussey. He and his team offer professional and bespoke funeral service planning across the Midlands.

Rev. Melanie Sopp is a celebrant and interfaith minister, working across the Midlands and the South coast. Melanie runs the excellent Celebrant Academy, which trains celebrants to create ceremonies and lead services of all kinds.

Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy was inspired to become a celebrant after losing her husband. Now, she leads unique, personal funeral services across Hull and East Yorkshire. With a friend, Adrienne runs Memories of Me, a service that allows people to plan their own funeral services.

Kate Mitchell is a creative independent celebrant working in the South East: her stomping grounds include Kent, Surrey and Sussex. As well as funerals, Kate leads thoughtful wedding and baby-naming ceremonies.

7 Tips from Celebrants on Writing a Great Funeral Speech 0

Eulogy examples: a microphone in front of a blurred background

Giving a funeral speech can be a nerve-wracking experience. Public speaking isn’t everyone’s forte — and there’s always the question of what you should (and shouldn’t) say.

So, what makes a great speech at a funeral? We spoke to four experienced celebrants — people who write and deliver eulogies professionally — to get their top tips on writing a funeral speech that feels right.

 

How to write a funeral speech, according to real celebrants

We spoke to Clive, Melanie, Kate and Adrienne for their tips on writing a brilliant funeral speech.

 

  1. writing a funeral speechWork out the length

“A five-minute speech would typically be 600 to 650 words,” says Clive Pashley, from Premier Celebrants. Most people talk at a rate of about 125 words a minute, he explains. But the more nervous you are, the faster you’ll speak.

If you get to choose how long your speech will be, ask for only as much time as you can manage. “Remember: you’re grieving, and the longer you’re up there, the harder it gets,” says Melanie Sopp, celebrant and interfaith minister. “Even two minutes can feel like an eternity.”

 

  1. Choose a topic

“Start by sorting out what the theme is,” says Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy, a celebrant from East Yorkshire. “What do you actually want to get people to understand, what is the whole basis of the speech?”

  • Eulogies are where you tell the life story of the person who has died, from beginning to end.
  • Tributes are typically shorter — 5-minute speeches on a treasured memory, anecdote, or theme from the person’s life.

“When you’re talking about somebody’s life, you talk about their passions: follow what they loved and what their strengths were,” says Kate Mitchell, who leads ceremonies in the South East. Eulogies follow a certain pattern (from birth to death), so it’s simply a case of pulling out those key moments that really reveal something.

For tributes, Melanie recommends writing about “things that mean something to you — whether it’s a personal memory, an anecdote, gratitude, or acknowledging somebody’s courage in the face of a long illness.” Family gatherings, holidays and first meetings are all good starting points for a funeral speech.

The most important thing is to tell the truth as you see it,”

  1. Follow your instincts

Not sure what to say in a funeral speech? Go with your gut.

“Just sit down and write what’s in your head, even if it’s a jumbled mess,” says Melanie. “Then go back through it to revise it and pick out what needs to be said on the day.”

Clive adds: “Don’t second guess yourself. If you think of a memory and it feels right, it’s important to you and it’s something that you shared — and if you think your friend or loved one would like you to share it — then I would go ahead and include it.”

 

  1. Be even-handed

Eulogy examples: a microphone in front of a blurred background

“Make sure your speech is as unbiased as possible,” says Adrienne. “Gather information from different parts of the family, so you actually get an accurate picture of what happened and what [the person who has died] was like.”

To get the information you need for your funeral speech, you may have to put your own opinions to one side. “Don’t be argumentative when you are taking the information, and don’t put your viewpoint first,” Adrienne stresses.

Clive agrees. “Some people use their time at the microphone to try and settle a score or get one up on someone. That’s obviously a real no-no,” he says, adding that such funeral speeches can be “excruciatingly embarrassing.”

 

  1. Be honest — even about the difficult bits

Talking about someone with a complicated or difficult history? All our celebrants agreed on one thing: not to flinch away from talking about it.

Person leaning against a fence by a lakeThe most important thing is to tell the truth as you see it,” says Kate. “To honour the person who has died, you need to talk about who they are, and not what people might want to hear about.”

“That doesn’t mean a litany of things that they did wrong — and it doesn’t have to be the gory details. It’s about telling the truth but being kind.”

“Acknowledge that they did have issues,” says Adrienne. “I lead a funeral service once for someone who was an alcoholic, and the family said that yes, he had issues with alcohol, and he tried to turn away from it, but unfortunately the issue was too big a problem for him to overcome. There are tactful ways of saying these things.”

Honesty can be cathartic. Melanie gave a difficult eulogy for her father and says that the experience was “Liberating. It was an honest account of that relationship. I don’t regret it.”

 

  1. Remember, it’s not all about you

Man and woman at a funeralIf you’re writing a funeral speech after losing a friend or family member, you’re understandably going to be in a lot of emotional pain. But while you should feel open to expressing how you feel, it’s important not to make the speech all about you.

“Just be careful not to make it too centred on yourself, and make sure it really does focus on the person who’s passed away,” says Clive.

When talking about others, specific names also are important, he stresses. “Try to avoid saying ‘we’ or ‘they’ unless it’s obvious who you’re referring to. Otherwise, it can be a little ambiguous and hard to follow.”

 

  1. Don’t be flowery, be specific

A lot of people feel that since a funeral is a serious occasion, funeral speeches should use serious, impressive language. Not so, say our celebrants.

“If their name was David, but they were known as Dave, call them Dave! Keep it personal,” says Adrienne.

“Don’t try and be clever and write flowery phases! Everybody thinks that they need to, but someone isn’t suddenly different because they died,” Kate explains. “If you can be specific, and base your speech on real things that happened, that’s best.”

“The songs you used to listen to together, the ways he used to stir his tea — those are the sorts of details that are specific to that person, and that’s what makes a great eulogy.”

 

For more inspiration…

For more ideas on things to say in a funeral speech, you can’t go wrong with our article on funeral speech examples. It’s filled with touching and sometimes even funny eulogies from real people.

Feeling nervous about an upcoming funeral speech? We followed up with Melanie, Clive, Adrienne and Kate to find out how to overcome your jitters. Check out their tips and tricks here.

 


 Meet the celebrants

Clive Pashley started Premier Celebrants with his friend, James Greely, in 2016. They were later joined by Rachel Nussey. He and his team offer professional and bespoke funeral service planning across the Midlands.

Rev. Melanie Sopp is a celebrant and interfaith minister, working across the Midlands and the South coast. Melanie runs the excellent Celebrant Academy, which trains celebrants to create ceremonies and lead services of all kinds.

Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy was inspired to become a celebrant after losing her husband. Now, she leads unique, personal funeral services across Hull and East Yorkshire. With a friend, Adrienne runs Memories of Me, a service that allows people to plan their own funeral services.

Kate Mitchell is a creative independent celebrant working in the South East: her stomping grounds include Kent, Surrey and Sussex. As well as funerals, Kate leads thoughtful wedding and baby-naming ceremonies.