DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: When my father died a few months ago, we had him cremated, but are now wondering what to do with his ashes.
My sister and I would like to do something celebratory for his life but aren’t sure what to do. Any suggestions?
— No Instructions Left
DEAR NO: If your dad didn’t leave any final instructions on what to do with his cremated remains, you have a wide array of choices. They can be kept, buried or scattered.
Here are some options.
KEEP CLOSE BY
For many people, keeping the ashes of their deceased loved one close by provides a feeling of comfort. If you fit into this category, you could keep his ashes in an urn on the mantel or in a cabinet. Another possible option is eco-friendly urns (like UrnaBios.com or EterniTrees.com) that contain a seed that grows into a tree or plant after being buried.
If you want your dad’s final resting place to be at a cemetery, you have several choices depending on how much you’re willing to spend. With most cemeteries you can either bury his ashes in a plot or place them in a cremation monument, a mausoleum or a cemetery building called a columbarium.
If you want to scatter his ashes, to help you chose an appropriate location, think about what your dad would have liked. For example, did he have a favorite fishing spot, camping area, golf course, beach or park that held a special meaning? These are all possibilities, but be aware that if you choose to scatter his ashes in a public location or on private land, you’ll need to get permission.
National parks, for example, require you to have a permit before you scatter ashes. If you wish to dispose of them at sea, the Environmental Protection Agency asks you to be at least 3 miles from shore. Beach scatterings are illegal in some states but are rarely prosecuted.
And many public areas, like Central Park and Disneyland, prohibit scattering ashes, as do most professional and college sports stadiums.
If you want to do something truly unusual with his ashes, you have many choices.
>> Scattering by air: This option lets you spread your dad’s ashes into the sky so the particles can be taken by the wind. To do this, you could hire a private plane, helicopter or hot-air balloon service, or use a balloon scattering service like EternalAscent.com or Mesoloft.com. You could even send his ashes into outer space with ElysiumSpace.com.
>> Scattering by sea: If your dad loved the water, there are many businesses that offer ash scattering services at sea, especially close to coastal areas, or you could rent a boat and do it yourself. There are also companies like EternalReefs.com that offer reef memorials so your dad’s ashes can rest on the ocean floor.
>> Ashes to keepsakes: If you want a keepsake of your dad, you can also turn some of his ashes into a wide variety of memorabilia, such as diamonds (see LifeGem.com or DNA2Diamonds.com), jewelry or other handcrafted glass items (ArtFromAshes.com and Memorials.com), vinyl records (Andvinyly.com), gun ammunition (MyHolySmoke.com) or an hourglass urn (InTheLightUrns.com).
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.