One of the most interesting yet unspoken topics involving Cremation is "what to do with the ashes?" There is no etiquette handbook that tells us what's right or inappropriate. We all just make convenient and sincere decisions.
Jill Larson, Senior Vice President, Smart Cremation, said, "After being in this business for many years, I can honestly say there is no right or common answer to what happens to the ashes of a loved one or friend. It is all a matter of circumstances. We know many families store ashes in hideaway places such as attics and closets and others who choose to have ashes displayed in expensive urns on mantels.
"Smart Cremation is often asked for suggestions. We usually explain what others have done but we don't force the issue. It is really a personal decision. Not everyone has the same circumstances or conditions. Some families have young children and don't want anything fragile displayed. Others don't want to look at constant reminders. Then there are others who devote a shrine to the ashes. It is important for these people to have a place of worship and respect."
Larson admits it is very difficult to predict who will do what because it is such a personal decision and often takes time for family members to decide on a final disposition for those ashes. With cremation, there is no rush. Families sometimes sit an urn on the mantel until something personal strikes them as appropriate (such as scattering ashes on a lake where the deceased used to vacation).
A growing number of folks are opting for a more dramatic choice that is getting a lot of attention from survivors." Ashes are now imbedded in necklaces, sculptures, diamond rings and vases at all price ranges. Some are even infusing ashes into their tattoos. It is all about mobility and the personal connection. People love feeling that they are very close to the departed. It eases the loss and pain.
Larson added, "We see more and more people making individual choices. Families and friends divide the ashes so there doesn't have to be a big group decision and now folks who want to be creative can let their imaginations run wild."
Larson said the topic of what to do with the ashes should be discussed more because an increasing number of Americans are choosing cremation over traditional burials. This topic is going to be explored in all kinds of areas. It is very exciting.