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Ashes to Ashes

A common question is;


How do I know I am getting my loved one’s ashes?


Each coffin has an identification plate which is checked with the paperwork sent to the crematorium, on arrival at the crematorium and again at the end of the service when the coffin is taken through to where the cremator is.  The identity card is placed on the outside of the cremator as soon as the coffin is placed in it. The card stays there until the process is complete and the ashes are removed.


The card is then transferred to the cooling tray with the ashes. The ashes then go to the preparation room and the card stays with them. When the ashes ready they are finally placed in the urn.


Each cremator will only accept one coffin and the ashes must be withdrawn before the cremator is used again, all cremation ashes are kept separate throughout the process.


The identity card remains with the body and subsequent ashes at all times throughout the process.


When you receive your loved ones ashes they are like sand in texture and pasty white or light grey in colour.  They are odourless and weigh around 3 kilograms, which is more than most people expect and they are usually taken by surprise by the quantity. 


The container you will be given with the ashes in will be fit for purpose and it may be a cardboard box if the crematorium you have used is being environmentally friendly. 

You can purchase an alternative urn or scatter tube in advance of the funeral if you wish to collect them in a specific container.


If you intend to keep your loved one at home you may choose to purchase a more elaborate urn or box.



Rights After Cremation


No-one can own the ashes of a deceased person because by law they are the same as a person and a person cannot be owned.


The Executor or person who organised the funeral, i.e. signed the contract with the Funeral Arranger or Director, is the only person to whom the ashes can be given to.

This person will have signed the necessary paperwork for collection from either the crematorium or Funerald Director.


The ashes are usually ready for collection 1-2 days later.


Where that person chooses to keep, bury or scatter the ashes is at their discretion and they are not obliged to inform anyone if they choose not to.



Can I take ashes overseas?


Yes you can but you need to check requirements first.

Laws regarding ashes vary from country to country, so it is essential that you check these out before you arrange to travel. In some countries you are not allowed to scatter ashes in an undesignated area or to keep them at home. 


Check with the Embassy and airline, what kind of container they require the ashes to be in and ask about any other requirements that they have. 

It is advisable to arrive at the airport early to avoid security delays and to take the ashes in a non-metal container. You will be able to take the ashes on the plane as hand luggage.

You will need to travel with the death certificate and certificate of cremation.

If an additional letter from a funeral director is required, ensure you ask for this in plenty of time.


Ashes are not good for plants


Cremation ashes have a high pH and high sodium content. This means that, without special treatment, they don’t provide good conditions for plants or trees to flourish. 

However, products are available which, mixed with the ashes, can help balance and release the nutrients.


Options for scattering ashes


You do not need a licence or permit to scatter ashes in the U.K. but you do need the landowner’s permission. Some places have a complete ban, like Royal Parks. Many locations will grant permission but you must ask.

You can buy a specially-designed walking stick, which you can fill with the ashes, which releases a small amount every time you press down, so they can be disperse along a favourite walk rather than all in one place.

Scattering ashes in the sea or in a river is permitted by the Environment Agency as long as you don’t add any polluting material and don’t disturb the enjoyment of the water by others.   

Biodegradable water urns are available, including boat shaped ones. These hold the ashes and sink to the sea or river bed before dissolving.

If you want your loved one to go sky high, ashes can be made into fireworks, or scattered during a hot air balloon flight or skydive.



A Lasting Momento


There are a variety of ways to turn ashes into keepsakes. A small amount can be made into jewellery, decorations, paintings, paperweights or even a tattoo


Many people chose to keep ashes at home, talking to their loved one, feeling they are still close by.


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