If you would rather be buried in a casket, this post probably is not for you. But after Saturday's Interesting Stuff item about James Doohan's ashes being carried into space last week, I wondered about the ways people deal with ashes of loved ones.
Some urns, like my father's, are buried in cemeteries or mausoleums. Burial at sea or, at least, on water, is not uncommon these days. My mother was a member of the Neptune Society and we scattered her ashes off Marin County just under the Golden Gate Bridge.
My stepbrother Joe's sailing club friends took his ashes 30 miles out into the ocean from San Francisco near the Farallon Islands. In Joe's case, he loved the sea above most everything else. My mother (I suspect, but cannot be certain) was just being practical and she loved the San Francisco area.
Of course, ashes can be scattered on land too. If it's your property, no problem. If not, you need to check local regulations and get permissions.
Many years ago, a friend rented an apartment in Greenwich Village in which a box of human ashes sat on the fireplace mantle. I have forgotten the details, but a woman whose name was Charlotte had been murdered there many decades before and by deed, her ashes were required to remain with the house. (I don't know if that's true, but it's my general recollection.)
Remember last year when I told you about a book by Gail Rubin, A Good Goodbye, with lots of excellent information on planning funerals? In checking out information for this post, I ran across a recent article Gail wrote about the top ten things people can do with ashes (Oops. I think I'm supposed to say “cremated remains” but I draw the line at “cremains.”) Here is the abbreviated list:
- Scatter on land
- Scatter on sea
- Scatter by air
- Bury in a cemetery
- Bury at home
- Keep an urn at home
- Place in a columbarium
- Share with family
- Create a reef
- Build a monument
“Pros: Speaking of mixing cremated remains in concrete, why not make a monument? You can set it up on your property, or even make it a centerpiece at family reunions!
“Cons: Some family members may not be amused.”
No kidding. You can read what Gail has to say about all ten options here.
A trip around the web led to hundreds, if not thousands, of styles of urns including this one that left me speechless:
“Now we can create a custom cremation urn for ashes in the image of your loved one or favorite celebrity or hero, even President Obama!
“...Personal urns can have hair added digitaly [sic] for short haired people, as in the sample of President Obama.”
Do you think the president knows about this? Like I said, I'm speechless.
There is, apparently, a growing trend toward wearing dead relatives as diamonds made from their ashes. The diamonds can be quite pricey ranging from about $4,000 to $25,000 depending on color and size.
As to the purpose, as one company explains, diamond pendants or other jewelry are “a way to embrace your loved one's memory day by day.”
Uh-huh. I can hear it now: “Why, Jane, what lovely earrings. Are they new?”
“Yes, they're my late husband, George.”
“Oh, what a lovely gift.”
“No, they ARE George.”
Even if your loved one prefers burial to cremation, you can still wear him or her as jewelry. At least one ashes-to-diamonds company will make a gem from a lock of a loved one's hair.
I have definitely opted for cremation and have long made arrangements with a young friend to scatter my ashes in what I consider my real home, New York City - specifically along Bleecker Street between 6th and 7th Avenues saving a little to leave in front of my long-time home on nearby Bedford Street.
What about you?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Best Laid Plans