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What to Do with Ashes You Do Not Want to Keep

What to Do with Ashes You Do Not Want to Keep

There are many things you can do with cremation ashes. A common choice is to keep them in your home, but there are many other options to choose from that do not involve keeping the ashes permanently. This article will look at things you can do with ashes if you do not want to keep them.

Scatter the ashes

Scattering ashes is a great option for those who would not like to keep the cremated remains permanently. It is quick, easy, and can also be cost-effective since purchasing an urn is not necessary. 

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Scattering also offers a lot of flexibility. The location options for scattering are almost entirely up to the family and friends of the deceased. However, local laws and regulations must be followed when doing so.

In Canada, ashes can be scattered on private property as long as permission is obtained from the landowner. 

They can also be scattered on Crown land as long as the space is unoccupied. This includes provincial parks and conservation reserves. Crown land under bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, or the ocean, is included in this rule. In Canada, that includes the Great Lakes.

Specific rules may vary in different provinces and municipalities, so the local or regional municipality should be contacted to check for specific rules or restrictions. 

Another important thing to keep in mind when scattering is the location. From an environmental standpoint, ashes are not likely to significantly or negatively impact wildlife and aquatic life. Therefore, location options are not very limited. However, there are some things to keep in mind when choosing a location.  

For example, if you choose to scatter private property (e.g., family home), it is essential to remember that the land may be sold, redeveloped, or changed down the line. Likewise, if you scatter on public property, the land may also become developed or repurposed, restricted, or inaccessible at a future point. 

Burial and interment  of ashes

Another option for ashes is to bury them or inter them in a niche or columbarium. 

Burial options vary depending on the cemetery. However, many facilities have designated areas such as urn gardens and burial or scattering plots. 

A columbarium is a structure used to store and often display urns containing cremated remains. These often have areas called a niche. This is a shallow recess, usually within a wall, that holds the urns and other keepsakes that help memorialize the deceased.  

A unique option for burial is a tree burial. The tree will start growing once the container decays and incorporates into the soil. 

Keepsake urns and sharing ashes with family and friends

A keepsake urn is a smaller vessel that can contain a portion of the ashes. This is an excellent option for those that would like to share the ashes with other friends and families. After receiving the ashes from the crematorium or funeral home, family and friends can divide the remains into smaller urns to be kept in multiple locations. 

Keepsakes can also come in the form of jewelry. Keepsake jewelry usually holds a small portion of the ashes or incorporates it into the jewelry itself. 

Instead of integrating a portion of the ashes, an alternative is to imprint the loved one's fingerprint on the jewelry. 

Ashes can also be incorporated into things like art, sculptures, paintings, plushies, and more. 

Disposing of remaining or unwanted ashes

Many of the options mentioned above only require a portion of the ashes to be used. Therefore, some may be unsure of what to do with the remaining ashes.

Ideally, it would be best to try one of the options mentioned above. Scattering is the easiest method.

However, there may be cases where you become the custodian of ashes of a relative from a generation before. Perhaps a parent, who is now deceased, kept their parent's ashes and now you have them. You have no obligation to keep the ashes.

There have also been cases where a landlord has discovered ashes in tenant belongings that have been abandoned.

Usually the dignified choice would be to find a place to scatter them. But if you are otherwise at a loss of what to do with the remaining ashes and would not like to keep them, you can discard them into the public waste stream. 

Ashes do not pose a significant threat to wildlife or aquatic life, so ashes can be disposed of as waste like you would anything else.

Nonetheless, it is common practice to wrap the ashes or a temporary urn (that they may have come in) in a container or some fabric to separate them from other things in the garbage, if you choose that option. 


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