After cremation, your family will be given your loved one's cremated remains or what's commonly called ashes.
Unless you've chosen a specific cremation urn, the remains will be returned to you inside a plastic bag within a basic, functional plastic box. Considered to be a temporary urn, this plastic box is more than sufficient to secure your loved one's ashes until the time your family is ready to care for them in a different way.
You may have already decided exactly what you will do with them but if not, safekeeping them at home – while you consider the many options – is perfectly fine. Your alternatives include scattering the ashes in a meaningful location, purchasing cemetery or columbaria property, splitting the ashes among family members (in keepsake urns or cremation jewelry), or transferring the cremated remains to a selected cremation urn and keeping them with you at home.
Other Ways to Show How Much You Care
In the time following your loved one's cremation, your family is able to put much of your collective attention on memorial service planning. Sometimes called remembrance ceremonies, memorial services provide friends and family members with an opportunity to gather together in tribute to a loved one's life.
You will have ample time to arrange for an appropriate and meaningful service or ceremony. Cremation creates more flexibility to arrange for a service that addresses the scheduling needs of all involved. Of course, picking the date, time, and place for the remembrance ceremony is a major factor in planning, equally important are the personal touches you can add to the ceremony itself.
Memorial Service Ideas
Personal touches are the things that make your loved one's memorial service or remembrance ceremony uniquely theirs. One such personal touch could be the location of the service itself; selecting a place that was meaningful during their lifetime can be the start of a deeply personal service.
We've seen families arrange for their loved one's service to be held on the 18th hole of their favorite golf course. We're also aware of decidedly casual remembrance ceremonies staged as tailgate parties held prior to a favorite team's football or baseball game. Some choose to hold the ceremony in the family's backyard while others decide upon a more public location. Think creatively; talk to one another. We're confident you will find exactly the right place for your loved one's remembrance ceremony.
Our list of ways to personalize your loved one's memorial service also includes:
Compiling a selection of their favorite musical selections and playing it in the background then providing each guest with a copy of the CD as a memento of the occasion.
Planting a memorial tree or flowering shrub in a meaningful location. This may require getting permission from the land owner or governmental agency. An identical seedling could then be given to guests to plant in memory of your loved one.
Arranging for a buffet or pot luck featuring your loved one's favorite foods. Each guest could then be given copies of the recipes involved to take home as a memento.
Arrange for a meaningful end to the service with a dove, butterfly or balloon release. Or, you could decide to arrange for each guest to release a floating sky lantern.
Prepare and deliver a eulogy in tribute to your loved one. If this idea sounds like something you or another family member would like to do, we encourage you to read "How to Write a Eulogy".
Hire a professional photographer to take pictures or videotape the service as a personal memento for family members. (Guests could be mailed or given copies as keepsake gifts.)
Prepare a tribute video or slideshow of treasured family photographs to be shown at the service. Copies of this presentation could then be given to family members and close friends.
Arrange for the display of treasured family photographs or your loved one's handicrafts, art work, or collection of personal keepsakes. Depending on the nature and value of the display or collection, each guest could be allowed to select one to take home with them as a keepsake.
Setting up a table with a hand-chosen collection of small river rocks. Provide permanent markers in various colors. Guests are then invited to write their name and a brief message of love (in their favorite color or colors) on a chosen rock. The rocks can then be kept by the family or scattered in a favorite location.
Select your loved one's favorite flowers to be displayed as part of the memorial service. These flowers can then be turned into floral beads, which could be sent to family members and guests as special hand-crafted keepsakes. To learn what's involved, visit the webpage, "How to Make Funeral Flowers into Beads", or the page, "Memorial Jewelry--How to Make Rose Petal Beads with Polymer Clay".
If your loved one was fond of social media, you could arrange for guests to post messages or photos from the memorial service directly to their Facebook page. Once done, the page could be memorialized following Facebook's guidelines.
We've had lots of experience in planning a memorial service or remembrance ceremony, and put together a Memorial Services Checklist to guide you and your family through the process of planning. If you'd like additional support, contact us at 613-389-7223. We also have many recommended local resources in our Community Links section.