Cremation is the funeral choice for more than half of all Australians, with almost two thirds of urban funerals now centered around a cremation.
After a cremation, it can take a long time to decide what to do with your loved one’s ashes – but there are many options available. In Australia, there are lots of creative ways to scatter cremation ashes in a meaningful and personal way.
There are also a host of unique ways to keep your loved one's close, such as turning them into jewellery or a beautiful piece of art.
Here are 17 creative ideas for what to do with your loved one’s ashes after cremation.
1. Scatter their ashes at sea
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Australia is famous for its oceans, which are enjoyed by a multitude of surfers and nature-lovers alike. Many people flock to the country's coast to enjoy the waves and the wildlife.
You don’t need a licence to scatter ashes at sea, although you should be aware of other people that share the space and bear in mind the weather conditions when you are scattering – as it can get very windy out at sea.
There are also many boat companies that offer ashes scattering ceremonies on the waves. In New South Wales, Sydney Harbour Escapes, is among the charter companies offering ashes-scattering trips at sea for families looking for a special send-off.
2. Scatter ashes in the Australian outback
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Wildlife-enthusiasts who adore the great Australian outback can now have their ashes scattered during a beautiful service in the bush.
Award-winning tour company Global Gypsies, has been offering private ceremonies in the Australian outback for more than a decade.
The Perth-based firm offers the services at a range of locations across the year and they cost between $500 and $1,000.
3. Turn cremation ashes into jewellery
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One of the most popular ways to hold on to the memory of your loved one is by creating memorial jewellery from ashes.
Whether it’s a diamond pendant or a heart that you literally wear on your sleeve, memorial jewellery is a tradition being rediscovered as a way of celebrating someone’s memory.
From big specialist companies to bespoke jewellers and artisans makers, there is a huge range of pendants, bracelets and ring designs to choose from – including fillable lockets for ashes, fingerprint mementos and crystal beads.
4. Turn their ashes into a coral reef
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If you’re looking for a special way to be remembered, new innovations are allowing you to become one with the ocean.
Florida-based Eternal Reefs, who have been working with cremated ashes since 1998, have now created more than 4,000 reefs in more than 70 countries all over the world.
Cremated remains are mixed into concrete ‘reef balls’ which are then laid to rest on the sea bed.
The sustainable round-shaped reef balls are part of a global drive to help create healthy environments that allow sea life to thrive.
5. Cremation ashes into fireworks
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If your loved one lived life to the full, then why not let them go out with a bang?
Sydney-based Ashes to Ashes is among a number of specialist companies that can help you create stunning displays, with fireworks made from cremation ashes.
This could be the perfect way to scatter your loved one’s ashes in style.
6. Memorial tattoos with cremation ashes
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It’s a popular modern custom for people to get a tattoo to commemorate their loved one’s after they die, but some studios are now offering custom ink containing their remains.
These unique memorial tattoos for bereaved customers tend to be at the artist’s discretion.
The process involves mixing a small amount of your loved one’s ashes with tattoo ink – which can then be used in a range of designs.
When selecting a tattooist, always do you research and use a reputable body artist.
7. Cremation ashes into trees
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The growing popularity of green funerals have got many people thinking about how to give back to the environment after they die.
Biodegradable urns are the perfect tribute to any eco-warrior, designed to return to nature without harming the environment, or even creating a habitat in which you can grow a house plant or tree.
Bios Urn created the world’s first biodegradable urn – each incorporates a seed, with the cremation ashes directly nourishing the growth of a tree, as a living tribute that will continue to grow and flourish.
8. Cremation ashes into dazzling diamonds
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“Diamonds are a girl's best friend,” Marilyn Monroe once sang.
But did you know that you can actually create your own beautiful diamond from your loved one’s cremation ashes?
This might not be the most affordable memorial, but it certainly is one of the most impressive.
Heart in Diamond create beautiful diamonds from cremation ashes so you can hold on to your special memories of them forever.
They cost from $3,020 for a sparkling yellow gem, to $28,887 for a dazzling white diamond and the jewels can be set in a range of precious metal keepsakes
9. Turn their ashes into a vinyl record
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If you are searching for the perfect idea for what to do with your loved ones ashes after cremation, then this option could be music to your ears.
And Vinyly, a UK-based company, offers people the chance to immortalise their loved ones by having their ashes pressed into playable vinyl records.
The record can be pressed with voice recordings or tailor-made with favourite music tracks, while the record cover’s artwork can also be personalised in meaningful ways.
10. Give them one last dance
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US metal band Behemoth granted a late fan’s dying wish by scattering his ashes during a live show.
Frontman Adam Nergal Darski scattered the fan’s ashes on to the stage, before performing the late metalhead’s favourite song.
It was reported the band found out about Nick’s dying wish on social media, inspiring them to pay tribute.
If you’re scattering a music lover’s ashes yourself, always seek the permission of the venue owner.
One US opera lover accidentally triggered a terrorism scare when he scattered his friend’s cremated remains into the orchestra pit of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
11. Raise the roof
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There are few sights more quintessentially Australian than a weathered corrugated iron roof, which inspired designer Mark to create the Outback Cremation Urn, and also a corrugated iron-style coffin, drawing on the nation’s outback heritage.
12. Ashes into art on canvas
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Creating art from cremation ashes is becoming popular, in particular, a portrait of the person who has died.
These commemorative cremation portraits are created by mixing your love one’s cremated remains into your materials.
German-born Heide Hatry, who is based in New York, has been creating cremation portraits for the bereaved for more than a decade.
She adds the cremation ashes, piece by piece, to layers of beeswax. Harty started making the beautiful portraits, which take between three and four months to complete, to help her come to terms with the death of a close friend.
13. Ashes into coffee cups
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Imagine cradling a morning cup of coffee, knowing that you are keeping your loved one’s ashes close.
US-based ceramics company Chronicle Cremation Designs is uses cremation ashes to create beautiful bespoke ceramics, decorated with glazes that incorporate the ashes of a loved one.
It makes ceramic cups to order for people who want something to remember their loved one by, that they can use every day.
14. Scatter their ashes from a plane
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Did you know that you can have your loved one’s ashes scattered from a plane – as they embark on one final flight?
This option is perfect for anyone who was a free spirit or aviation enthusiast.
Flight One offers bespoke ashes scattering services from a plane or aircraft over an area that was special to your loved one.
The Brisbane-based flying firm offer the fitting tribute as a farewell to adventurous souls, with discreet and personalised arrangements.
15. Ashes into an intimate keepsake
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Artist Mark Sturkenboom was inspired to design an adult memory box for a friend, who was grieving the death of her husband and missing their physical intimacy.
His conceptual memory box doubles as a speaker, so it can play music. It is opened by a gold-plated key that can be worn as a necklace.
Inside the box is vial to hold a little of their cologne and a glass massager containing a small golden urn which can hold 21 grams of someone’s ashes.
The Netherlands-based artist says the memory box is “a physical affirmation of love against the unavoidable passing of life,” while 21 grams was once believed to be the weight of the human soul.
16. Launch your loved one's cremation ashes into the sky
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We all have special people in our lives who lit up every room they were in, so this is one fitting way to remember and celebrate all that energy.
The Ash Scattering Cannon, also known as the Loved One Launcher, is sure to create a spectacular send-off for someone special.
The device can shoot cremains more than seventy feet into the air, allowing for a wide dispersal of ashes that will be seen by all in attendance.
The cremation ashes can also be mixed with confetti or streamers to create a memorable daytime display.
17. Take their ashes around the world
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If your loved one was a globetrotter and loved to travel to new places, this could be an ideal way to honour their memory.
Tré Miller Rodríguez, from New York, US, documented a round-the-world trip over the course of several years, scattering a little of her husband’s ashes in places, including the Bahamas, Brazil, the USA, Cuba, England, and Hungary.
Dave Blake, based in Austin, Texas, is behind Spirit Pieces, which makes decorative glass pebbles to order, each containing a tiny amount of cremation ashes. Small enough to fit inside a pocket or purse, the idea is to take one with you and leave it on your travels, so you can leave a little piece of a someone somewhere they loved, or always wanted to go.
If you are inspired by the idea, Healesville Glass Blowing Studio in Victoria makes ‘comfort pebbles’ from cremation ashes that you could take on a journey of your own.
- For more ideas about what to do with cremation ashes, or to make arrangements for any of the memorials listed here, your funeral director should be able to help you with anything you need.