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It’s not easy to let go of your loved ones, but it’s an experience everyone has to go through, and everyone deals with it differently. Some people try to keep their emotions bottled up for the sake of maintaining appearances. Some fall to pieces. And some people control their grief while standing strong so that others can rely on them during this difficult time.
How we treat our dead is one of the things that separate us from animals. Some people bury their dead; others choose cremation or a different way to put their loved ones to rest. Religion, customs, family traditions, even the environment play an essential role in how the dead are handled.
In the US, nearly half the bodies are cremated, and this number is expected to go up in the future. It's also the only way of handling the dead that lets you keep a memento of the dead that’s not just from them; it's of them. Cremation produces "Cremation Ashes", also referred to as merely "ashes." However, a more accurate term would be cremated remains.
What you do with the ashes of your loved ones, can be influenced by your religious beliefs, your family traditions, or the wish of the deceased. Some people prefer that their ashes to be buried in a cemetery, or scattered at a place that was special to them when they were alive. Some prefer to sit in a beautiful urn, in the house they lived their lives in.
But what if you don't have any clear instructions about what to do with the ashes? And your family doesn't have a set tradition of dealing with this particular relic. Should you buy an urn, and place the ashes in it? Or just bury it in a random cemetery?
The question (and its answers) are both spiritual and psychological. It also depends upon your relationship with the deceased. For some people, keeping the ashes is akin to remembering their loved ones who've passed away. It's important to them that they cling to that part of life, which is usually harmless. But if that specific memento is keeping you trapped in the past, and not allowing you to move on, then it's not merely benign powder living in an urn.
It’s a psychological trap keeping you chained to a static past that you can’t change, and prevents you from making a better future.
For some people, who neglected their loved ones when they were alive, keeping the ashes might be a constant guilt trigger. And instead of learning a positive lesson from the passing of the deceased, and making more time for family and loved ones, the ashes might simply serve as a painful reminder, that might make the person even more callous in the future.
Many people keep the ashes safe, just because that's how it's done in their family or social circle, and they don’t really attach a subconscious meaning to them. For such people, cremated remains are simply an old heirloom, and it won’t matter if they keep it or cast it away.
Some people associate positive meaning to the ashes. The remains of their loved ones trigger them to keep the spirit of the family, and traditions alive.
There is no universal answer to whether cremation ashes are a healthy reminder of your loved ones. It depends a lot on your mindset and the depth of your relationship with the deceased. If it only brings up the worst in you, you may want to get it out of the house. You can bury it or spread it, preferably in a meaningful way that helps you find closure. You can also keep the ashes to help you cope with the loss and to remind yourself that the deceased is with you in spirit and memories. In any case, how you feel about the cremation ashes should be one of the primary reasons behind deciding whether they should stay in your home.