What To Do With A Loved One’s Ashes After Cremation

Cremation is steadily growing in popularity for a variety of reasons. Not only is it eco-friendly and less costly than traditional burial, but cremation is also highly customizable to meet your needs. Family members may live in different locations, and it can be challenging to make funeral arrangements. Cremation offers flexibility in planning. You can opt for an intimate ceremony prior to cremation and a larger memorial service later on so that out-of-town friends and family have a chance to attend.

If you’ve chosen cremation, you may be wondering what you can do with the cremation ashes. You have multiple options. You can host a formal scattering service, have a touching sendoff in a place that was special to your loved one, or keep the ashes so your loved one remains close. Here is a review of what you can do with your loved one’s ashes.

Scattering ashes

Scattering your loved one’s ashes is a beautiful way to get closure and healing as you grieve. Many people opt for scattering ashes in a place that was meaningful to their loved ones. The locations are unlimited. Examples include a scenic mountaintop, a lucky fishing hole, or a favorite hiking trail. Whether you are choosing to scatter the ashes at sea, on family property or in a favorite location, you’ll need to be mindful of the laws in your area.

Where can you legally scatter ashes?

There are local, state and federal laws that regulate the scattering of ashes. To avoid any problems, you should research the laws for the location where the scattering ceremony will occur. For example, you can scatter your loved one’s ashes at sea, but you must report it to the Environmental Protection Agency. A special permit is required if you’d like to scatter ashes in a national park. If you plan to scatter ashes on private property that you don’t own, be sure to check with the owner first.

Designated scattering gardens are another option for families who want to scatter ashes but don’t have a location in mind. Since a scattering garden is owned by the crematory or cemetery, you don’t have to worry about permitting or laws — it’s already been handled.


An urn is a storage container for ashes. You can use a temporary urn to hold the ashes prior to scattering or a permanent urn that keeps your loved one’s ashes for years to come. A wide variety of designs are available so you can customize the urn to perfectly suit your loved one’s personality. You may choose to display the urn at home or at a columbarium — a special niche at a cemetery property for urns. Some of the different options include:

  • Religious urn: Faith may have been an important part of your loved one’s life. Displaying your loved one’s religious affiliation, a religious urn may be engraved or embossed with symbols of faith or scriptures that reflect their beliefs.
  • Hobby, sport or military service urn: An urn can incorporate experiences and interests that shaped your loved one’s life. You can personalize the urn to demonstrate their love of sewing, hunting, sports, or the branch of military in which they served.
  • Clock urn: These urns are not only functional timepieces but are a charming way to display your loved one’s ashes. Clock urns can be placed on a shelf or mantle as a way to always remember your loved one.
  • Decorative urn: Urns can be made from a variety of materials—glass, wood, stone, metal and more. Your loved one’s ashes can be placed in an urn that serves as a distinctive work of art.
  • Teddy bear urn: Teddy bear urns let you keep ashes in a stuffed bear that can be cuddled or displayed. This may be an option to comfort a child who is grieving the loss of their loved one.

Cremation jewelry for ashes

Jewelry can be customized to hold ashes and is a wonderful way to have your loved one kept near. In addition to lockets or other jewelry that is designed to hold ashes, diamonds can be created from the ashes. Once made, the diamond can be set in a truly individualized piece that can be passed along for generations.

Other cremation ashes ideas

While many people choose to scatter ashes or keep them in an urn, there are many other unique ways to honor your loved one if they are cremated. Here are several ideas:

  • Neptune Memorial Reef: The Neptune Memorial Reef is an artificial reef located about 3.25 miles off the Florida coast. Designed to look like the lost city of Atlantis, the reef is home to specialty urns that hold ashes, creating a new habitat for sea life.
  • Memorial tattoo: Did you know that ashes can be refined and made into tattoo ink? Ritual or commemorative tattoos with your loved one’s ashes is a sentimental and meaningful way to remember their life.
  • Hourglass: Watching an hourglass can be both mesmerizing and calming. Hourglasses can be customized to hold ashes so you have a functional memento that can help you maintain a connection with your loved one.
  • Vinyl records: If your loved one was a music lover, you can actually have their ashes made into a vinyl record. When created using professional processes, the vinyl functions as a standard record and can include recordings of memories, speeches, special songs or stories about your loved one.

The Neptune Society is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan cremation services in advance, we are always available to assist you and your family.

Call 1-800-NEPTUNE (800-637-8863) today or contact us online to learn more.