‘Fourth ceremony of life’

In the past, families had relatively few choices when it came to dealing with cremation ashes. They were buried in a garden of remembrance, kept in an urn at home, or perhaps scattered at sea or over the deceased’s favourite place.

Now, the options are much greater. You can’t go scattering ashes wherever you fancy, but you can choose everything from having them made part of a firework to being turned into jewellery.

A growing number of businesses in the UK are offering services with ashes for a different kind of send-off. Scattering Ashes is one leading website that people can turn to for advice, ranging from football club policies to information from bodies such as the National Trust and the Environment Agency. Scattering Ashes has also produced a free leaflet that funeral directors can give to their clients to help them make choices.*

Richard Martin, the founder and Managing Director of Scattering Ashes, believes in a more celebratory approach to memorialisation.

He said: “In the UK most people – approximately 75% – opt to be cremated rather than buried. Most loved ones take the ashes home rather than leave them to be scattered at the crematoria.”

After that they may be confused about their choices. The average person is unlikely to know where the scattering of ashes is allowed and what the rules are on burial, far less the wide range of choices now available.

Richard said: “For us, this is the fourth ceremony of life – you celebrate birth with a christening, marriage with a wedding and death with a funeral. The scattering ceremony is the final celebration of the whole life lived.”

The Scattering Ashes site gives an indication of the extensive range of options. There is dispersal of ashes by vintage plane or helium-filled balloon.

You can have ashes placed in an ancient burial chamber or on a memorial reef at sea. Loved ones’ ashes can remain constantly with you in the form of ashes jewellery or memorial pendants.

One of the most unusual requests received by Scattering Ashes was a papier-mâché suitcase to hold the ashes of a person who had loved to travel. As a trustee of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Richard is a strong advocate of using craftspeople’s skills.

He said: “We have developed a range of urns and keepsakes that hold ashes while being completely discreet. They range from saggar-fired ceramics to stainless steel garden sculptures. We have also created a Viking longboat urn that can be set aflame, and a ‘Message in a Bottle’ which will take a small amount of ashes and let them continue their travels by sea.”

If loved ones’ choices in previous years were somewhat restricted, nowadays your options appear to be plentiful.

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