Meet the Family
October 4, 2014
Read All About It: My Blog’s Gone International with 75M Potential Readers!
October 14, 2014
Show all

Weird Ways to Honor Your Loved One’s Ashes

The nice thing about Mark-in-a-Box is that he could go anywhere, anytime. In fact, we were part of a growing trend. In 2010, an estimated 38.15% of America’s deceased were cremated, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Not surprisingly, therefore, the practice of scattering cremains in unusual, non-traditional (and often illegal) locations is, well, spreading.

 

Next time you jump in the lake, think again. There’s a good chance at least one person is in there swimming with the fishes. Who doesn’t know somebody who doesn’t know somebody who spread somebody’s ashes in a body of water? The answer is nobody. Thank God we have two giant oceans plus thousands of lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, brooks, and trickles in North America alone.

 

National parks are also big favorites with 58 to choose from. Mark liked his” spread” at the Grand Canyon very much, but it was so much more inspiring to sprinkle him in Old Faithful and definitely funnier to put him in Death Valley. Still, you are more likely to step on someone’s bones at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park than any other as it’s the busiest with more than nine million visitors a year.

 

Ball parks are also big: Think Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field. And then there’s always the Mall of America or better yet, Wal-Mart for devoted but now dearly departed discount shoppers. The possibilities are truly endless: Movie theaters for fallen film buffs? The top of the Empire State Building? How about the Zehnder’s Restaurant in Frankenmuth, Michigan? It’s the biggest in the United States with nine dining rooms serving up to 900 guests. I mean 901, including Mark.

 

But there’s no dodging the video surveillance cameras at Disneyland! Can you guess what they’re recording at alarming rates? Yup. You guessed it. That ain’t Tinkerbell’s Magic Fairy Dust flying in your face: It could be human remains! Imagine the possibilities in the Haunted Mansion alone. I know because Mark is there too.

 

Here are some of more interesting, unusual, and/or downright ridiculous things people suggested I do with Mark.

 

Turn Him into a Box of Pencils

Yes, you read that right. There’s an artist named Nadine Jarvis who creates pencils from ashes –240 pencils to be exact– that are stored inside a specially designed box, with a sharpener in its side and a viewing window on top. When the pencils are sharpened into the side of the box, the pencil shavings turn into a new kind of ash, and the box becomes a kind of urn.

 

Become a Tramp Stamp

Have a portion of your loved one’s ashes mixed with the tattoo ink before going under the needle.

 

Mix His Ashes into Paint

This could be done to create a portrait of Mark or even when I was ready to paint our new house.

 

Make Him Part of a Coral Reef

Calling all environmentalists and ocean lovers! There’s now a company called Eternal Reef that’s helping to rebuild coral reefs by creating cement structures that the coral can latch onto and grow. Starting at about $4,000, you can have ashes poured into the concrete. Larger personal reefs can hold up to four people and include pets. If that’s too pricey, you can have your remains mixed together with others and as part of a complete reef system.

 

Turn Him into Bullets

What could say I love you more than turning Mark into a box of ammo? Dad’s body may be gone, but he doesn’t have to miss next year’s hunting trip! There’s actually a company called Holy Smoke that does this!

 

Turn Him into Fireworks

You can now literally “go out with a bang” when incorporated into a fireworks display through companies like Heaven’s Above and Angel Flights. The bereaved can choose between the grand finale or having the ashes stuffed into small, self-fired rockets for a private ceremony at home.

 

Play Him at 33 1/3 rpms

There’s apparently a UK-based record shop that will press cremated ashes into a set of vinyl records. You pick the artwork and the music, or plan ahead and record your own spoken word message to loved ones.

 

Balloon Him into the Atmosphere

Eternal Ascent  is one company that will place him inside a helium balloon. The balloon then travel to an altitude of 5 miles where, at the temperature of -40° below zero, it crystallizes and bursts, scattering the ashes.

 

Launch Him into Space

Celestis offers postmortem space flights, including everything from a trip into orbit and back to earth, to a more adventurous journey into deep space. This could be just the one-way ticket!

 

Turn Him into Jewelry

Life Gem  is one such company that will turn a lock of hair or some of your loved one’s cremated remains into a certified diamond.

 

Why couldn’t someone create an I Dream of Jeannie urn where the deceased could just magically reappear? Now that’s something I would pay for.

 

 

Nice urns found on the Internet:
Wooden urns

 

Copyright © 2014 Laura Fahrenthold

penicls

10 Comments

  1. Joan Jennings says:

    When I started college (Fordham in the Bronx), I did my student job in the relatively new Student Union. The Director was a lovely young woman from Boston, not much of of college herself. She told me her grandfather had recently passed away and directed in his will that be be cremated and his ashes divided into thirds and strewn in the favorite places he lived his life: a fishing hole near Boston, a wharf in San Francisco and on a beach in Hawaii. She volunteered to deal with grandpa’s Boston ashes, flying to Boston with her husband and renting a car. Her brother prevailed upon her to take his 3 year old daughter along for the ride. She was plopped into the back seat and off they went. They marveled at how quiet and good she was on the ride. Not being parents yet, they didn’t realize what her silence meant. When they got to ye old fishing hole, they discovered the little girl had opened the box and had diligently worked grandpa’s ashes into the rental car’s upholstery. So one-third of gramps spent eternity riding around in the backseat of a rented Ford.

  2. Joan Jennings says:

    When I started college (Fordham in the Bronx), I did my student job in the relatively new Student Union. The Director was a lovely young woman from Boston, not much out of college herself. She told me her grandfather had recently passed away and directed in his will that be be cremated and his ashes divided into thirds and strewn in the favorite places he lived his life: a fishing hole near Boston, a wharf in San Francisco and on a beach in Hawaii. She volunteered to deal with grandpa’s Boston ashes, flying to Boston with her husband and renting a car. Her brother prevailed upon her to take his 3 year old daughter along for the ride. She was plopped into the back seat and off they went. They marveled at how quiet and good she was on the ride. Not being parents yet, they didn’t realize what her silence meant. When they got to ye old fishing hole, they discovered the little girl had opened the box and had diligently worked grandpa’s ashes into the rental car’s upholstery. So one-third of gramps spent eternity riding around in the backseat of a rented Ford.

  3. James Endrst says:

    Only you, Laura. Only you. A point of view like no other. Love the reporting. Makes the story.

  4. Rachel K says:

    Laura is so funny!!!!!!!!!! I cannot wait for the next installment.

  5. Mia Bell says:

    Enjoyed this entry immensely. Also, you can have your ashes made into a tree! The Spíritree is a biodegradable cinerary urn that transforms into a living memorial in the form of a tree. The Spíritree offers a poetic life-from-death metaphor as a celebration of the loved one’s memory, transforming the funeral rite from one of sadness into one of hope, all while promoting environmental restoration and awareness. I’ve thought this might be a good alternative for me… we’ll see what the girls do with me once I’m gone. Hopefully, it will be something like this and not turn out like Weekend at Bernie’s.

  6. Merkel says:

    50 Shades of Ash! Crazy

  7. Idil says:

    I loved the punch in the end. That’s usually the hardest part to write, right? Among the listed options (ehemmm) going out with a bang made me 🙂

  8. Drew Townson says:

    Hi Laura. It is great to discover you – and your writing – after all these years. Haven’t seen you since the day I graduated (with your sister Wendy). You were 16 or 17. The way you have dealt with the loss of Mark with such strength, soulfulness and even humor is admirable. He’d be very proud, I’m sure. You may or may not know that my sister and your good school friend Dana died a couple of years ago – pancreatic cancer. She was not just my sister but my lifelong best friend. Per her wishes, her ashes are shared between three people, and bits have been sprinkled in special places far and wide. Her good friend Sandy has instructions to bring her portion of Dana to the Jimmy Buffett concert every year, so “travel Danes” can party with the Parrot Heads. Dana was a funny kid and a really good person. Losing her was the biggest, saddest loss I’ve had and I miss her every day. In fact, my guiding daily mantra is, “What would Dana do?” I look forward to reading about your adventure – it certainly resonates with my own. Best of luck with the book and best wishes to you and your girls.
    Drew Townson, Boston, MA

    • Laura says:

      Oh Drew. We can talk anytime. I knew Dana had passed away. We were actually in touch on Facebook. I am sorry. I know how close you were and how much you meant to each other. I bet you miss her as much as her awesome cooking. She was a great chef. Love that she is with Jimmy:) Thank you for the kind and supportive note. I’m so curious as to how you found me! That’s kismet!
      Laura

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *