In recent years, cremation has gained popularity as a method of final disposition. One of the reasons for this is flexibility: cremated remains, or cremains, can be used in a breadth of creative memorial styles. Browse our photo gallery to explore beautiful and unusual cremation memorials.
Traditionally, cremated remains of the deceased are stored in an urn. Urns are typically made of stone, metal, ceramic, glass, or wood, and come in a variety of styles. They can be easily stored at home (either temporarily or on a permanent basis).
Urns come in an array of shapes and styles. Some companies create bust sculptures of the deceased, which can be used as urns; others craft small urns that fit inside of soft objects like teddy bears, for those who want to hug and hold the remains as part of their grieving process.
Columbaria are buildings, often found in cemeteries, that are dedicated to storing cremated remains. They are usually open to the public. A columbarium may be freestanding or may be connected to a mausoleum, and can be a good option to allow extended family and friends to visit your loved one’s final resting place.
A traditional symbol often found in memorial art, hourglasses denote the passage of time. Cremains can be prepared for use as sand in a functioning hourglass.
If you’re a music lover, there are companies that offer to press your ashes into a vinyl record. The audio on the record can include music, recorded voice samples, or it could simply be the natural crackles and pops of the record.
There are many artists who offer their services to create portraits of the deceased or other pictures using paint that has been mixed with the cremains. Ashes can also be mixed into ceramic glazes and stained glass.
If you’d prefer to have portable memorial artwork on you at all times there are some tattoo artists who are willing to mix cremains into the ink.
Cremains can be incorporated into almost any object. The inventor of Frisbee golf, Ed Headrick, had his ashes pressed into Frisbees that were given to family and friends. Italian businessman Renato Bialetti had his remains interred in an urn fashioned to look like a Moka pot, a famous coffee pot manufactured by his family’s company.
It’s said that a diamond lasts forever. Since humans are carbon-based life forms, it’s possible to press the carbon from cremains into a diamond that can be worn as jewelry.
One of the advantages of cremation is the ability to scatter the ashes in a location that was meaningful to the deceased. It can easily be done on property that you own, however public lands require research into state laws and local ordinances. If you plan to scatter ashes on private property it is best to get permission from the owner first.
Our remains eventually end up absorbed into other living things. However for those who would like to speed up the process there are biodegradable urns available that contain a tree seed. Once planted the seed will germinate and as it grows the roots will draw nutrients from the cremains.
Some people prefer to go out with a bang. Several companies offer to mix cremains into fireworks that can be launched as part of a professional display or for self-firing at home. Firearm enthusiasts can also choose to have their cremains mixed into live ammunition to be shot off by family and friends.
If your loved one cared about the ocean it’s possible to obtain a permit to scatter the ashes in the ocean at least three nautical miles from land. Scattering ashes in freshwater, especially moving rivers is generally not possible because of provisions in the Clean Water Act.
For a deeper experience cremains can be mixed with concrete and cast in an artificial reef. The reef is then sunk and provides shelter and habitat to all sorts of marine life.
Perhaps you or you loved one would like to soar through the sky. There are professional air charter services that can be hired to scatter ashes from an airplane. The permissions required for an aerial scattering are the same as one would need at ground level.
If airplanes aren’t your style it is possible to have portions of the cremains lifted by biodegradable helium balloon. The balloons rise up to five miles into the sky where they crystallize due to the low temperatures and the ashes disperse naturally in the wind.
Although most of us will never travel to outer space during out lifetimes, part of us may still reach the stars. There are some companies that offer services to launch a portion of cremains into space aboard capsules. Astronomer Eugene Shoemaker’s remains were sent to the moon and Pluto’s discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, had some of his remains stowed onboard the New Horizon spacecraft that just passed by Pluto on its way out of our solar system.
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