As the rate of cremation rises, more families are faced with the question of what to do with the ashes of a loved one? A traditional burial at least has an obvious "resting place." Cremation can cause more questions: Scatter? Bury? Keep at home? place in a niche? The answer of "what to do with the ashes?" can be as varied and unique as there are people on this Earth. Families can be creative and design one-of-a-kind celebrations and scattering ceremonies -- or quietly keep the cremated remains close at home. When a family chooses cremation, they must consider what feels right to them. 

Typically, cremated remains are placed in an urn and presented to the family after the cremation service. Urns can be made of brass, wood, marble and many other materials. Then they need to make a decision of the final placement of those ashes.

What to Do with Cremation Ashes


There are numerous ways you may scatter your loved one’s ashes. Some decide to scatter over water while others opt for ground dispersal. Biodegradable urns and scattering tubes are available to make this process of transporting and scattering ashes easy and environmentally friendly.


Many people choose to place their loved one’s ashes inside a cremation urn and bury it in a cemetery. To do this, check with your cemetery to see if they require you to purchase an urn vault (a container that is meant to protect the urn from breaking underground). You may be able to avoid purchasing an urn vault by choosing an urn specifically designed for ground burial such as a cultured marble urn.

Keep them close

If you wish to keep your loved one nearby, consider finding a place for the urn at home. Perhaps on a bookshelf close to all those great novels they loved so much? Or on the fireplace mantel? Or near a window so they will always be near the warmth or brightness.

A columbarium also is a popular place to hold an urn, but be sure to check with the church on the dimensions of the niche to make sure it can fit your urn.

A memorial necklace is a unique way to hold memories close. Cremation jewelry is used to hold a small amount of ashes or a small memento (such as crushed flowers or maybe sand from a favorite beach).

Not your typical ceremony

Need some inspirational and unique ideas? Here are some examples of unusual and interesting ways to disperse ashes.

  • Outer space burial:You can have ashes launched into earth’s orbit, to the moon, or deep space.
  • Scattering at sea: Scattering of ashes via plane or boat can be arranged in places like Hawaii, California, and under the ocean.
  • Multiple scattering spots: A small amount of ashes can be scattered in meaningful places. Make sure to get the correct permissions.
  • Ashes embedded in things: paperweights, bullets, comic books, art or a frisbee -- truly your imagination is the only limit!
  • Cool urns - Heart shaped urns, bird themed urns, Pringle can urns, or even a Darth Vader helmet urn.

Ultimately, the options for "what to do with the ashes" are vast and can reflect the humor, style, personality, and love of a treasured family member. A conversation on pre-planning of a funeral could even be filled with laughs about the range of choices -- some seemingly crazy. And remember, we have posts on choosing urns and a helpful customer support team to answer your questions.