What To Do With a Loved One’s Ashes

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Choosing a final resting place for a loved one is a decision that lasts forever. However, when a loved one is to be cremated, the next step isn't always clear. "How should I handle the ashes?" is a question many don't think to ask until the moment arrives.


There are many different ways to personalize how you keep or scatter a loved one's ashes, and it's not a decision you have to make right away. Cremation allows for time to consider what you and your family will ultimately do with them.


To Keep or Not To Keep?

If you're making plans for a loved one's ashes, try to consider what their wishes were. Did they leave instructions or tell you while they were alive? If not, it's ok.


Funerals and memorialization are truly for the comfort and peace of mind of the living. Ultimately, do what's best for you and your family, and discuss your options together.


Think about your loved one's personality and what mattered to them. Writing down aspects of their life that were important to both you and the deceased can be helpful to make the most meaningful decision.


Some Things Change.

The decision you make today regarding what to do with your loved one's ashes may affect future generations in your family. If you choose to keep them at home in an urn or box, you'll need to ask yourself what will happen to them after you die. Will your children or your grandchildren want such an inheritance? What will happen to your loved one's remains if you don't have any next-of-kin? Considering this can help bring your and other members of your family greater peace of mind.


A decision like this isn't one you and your family have to make alone. A funeral director at Chapman Funerals & Cremations will discuss your options and help guide you in your decision.


Keeping the Ashes

If you choose to keep cremated remains, there are several ways to do this. Cremation urns have been popular for holding ashes for millennia. Traditionally made from ceramic, metal, stone or wood, urns today can be purchased in a wide range of materials, including everything from 3D-printed plastics to paper mache.


Urns also come in almost any shape imaginable. Look for a material and shape that is meaningful to you. If nothing feels quite right, many companies today can customize an urn to reflect the personality and hobbies of your loved one, including a sculpture of the person themselves.


Aside from keeping ashes in an urn or box, there are seemingly endless creative alternatives to keep your loved one close by. You can incorporate ashes into creative memorials: 

  • A sculpture
  • A painting
  • Keepsake jewelry
  • A vinyl record that plays your loved one's favorite songs
  • Stained glass art
  • Mix with tattoo ink
  • Plant under a tree in the backyard
  • Have a diamond made from them


These are just a small sampling of what is possible. And you don't have to just choose one. Some families choose to divide the ashes between all those who loved the deceased. This way everyone can keep their loved one close or create their own personal goodbye.


Letting Go

A permanent resting place provides a tangible location to associate with a loved one. It allows friends and family to focus their mourning and create a real experience that you can return to whenever you want.


There are a few methods families can use to intercremated remains. Many cemeteries offer niches, or special above-ground recesses designed to hold urns. Another choice is a columbarium, a room or building with recessed walls containing spaces to hold urns and memorabilia. These recesses are often enclosed in glass, so loved ones can look in on the urn when visiting.


Did you know that you can bury cremated remains? A traditional grave can typically hold a casket and an urn, or two urns. Each can be placed in the grave at different times, as needed.


Scattering ashes can also bring comfort to a family. Families often choose a place that held special meaning to the deceased. On the coast, many Islanders choose to scatter ashes at sea, a place that holds deep significance for the people in Cape Cod and South Shore area. There are usually local laws to follow and permits to acquire, so be sure to research beforehand to ensure you and your guests don't encounter any difficulties. Scattering a loved one's ashes can be a small, intimate event, or you can plan a more elaborate service to commemorate a life.


We Can Help You Say Goodbye.

At Chapman, we can help you decide what's best for you and your family, so you can continue to honor and remember your loved one and begin to heal. If you'd like to learn more about the cremation options we provide, we're always here to answer any questions you have. Reach out to any of our six funeral home locations in Cape Cod and the South Shore area or send us a message online.

Feeling overwhelmed with the options and decisions that accompany a loved one’s cremation? We’re here for you.



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