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Death may be a natural part of life, but losing someone you love is never easy. When a loved one passes away, it can feel like life has turned upside down, and in the midst of grief you’re faced with a long list of decisions to make while navigating an entirely new process. More and more families are choosing cremation for their loved ones and for themselves, but many people still don’t know the numerous options they have when it comes to honoring their loved one after cremation.

Child holding lantern up to the sky.

Just as with a traditional burial, there are many options for services, memorials, and ideas for what you can do with ashes to make this process as special and unique as your loved one and the life they led. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Hold a service: We can help you plan a traditional or religious funeral, or a custom memorial service incorporating any personal touches you like. During the service, you can choose to have the urn (or body prior to cremation) present. A memorial, wake, or celebration of life can also be held in a private home or gathering place of your choice. Your funeral director will answer any questions you have and walk you through the entire process.
  2. Online tribute: An online obituary posted on our website is included in our basic service and it's completely up to you what you want it to say. Visitors to the website can leave messages and condolences on your loved one’s tribute wall and it will remain online indefinitely, allowing you to return to it at any time.
  3. Burial or scattering: Your loved ones’ urn can either be buried in a place of your choosing (cemetery, urn garden, mausoleum, etc.) or you can scatter their ashes where it’s allowable (please check your state and local laws first before scattering). One of the families we serve recently traveled back to their private land to scatter their mother. Each family member held some ashes in a small cup accompanied by a rose. They each said a few words, shared special memories, then scattered the ashes on their open space. With cremation comes the flexibility of waiting for nicer weather to bury or scatter, or to travel in the future to a different destination. Another option is to scatter ashes at our Cremation Gardens here in Denver, which include columbariums (buildings where you can place your loved one to rest) for scattering.
  4. Keep an urn: Many families choose to keep the urn after the funeral or memorial service and place it in their home or somewhere that was special to their loved one, or they divide the ashes into separate urns for multiple members of the family to keep.
  5. Jewelry or keepsakes: Many individuals choose to keep their loved one close by. Smaller urns, jewelry that holds ashes, or fingerprint jewelry are some options we offer. Your funeral director can help walk you through your options if this is something you would be interested in.
  6. Think outside the urn: There are a multitude of other options for memorializing a loved one after cremation, such as having ashes turned into a seed starter for trees, traditional or glass art, memorial fireworks, or ashes can even be mixed in with tattoo ink, to name a few. These kinds of ideas are significant and memorable because they may align with your loved one’s personality, interests, and hobbies—reflections of their time spent on earth.

There are also ways to honor your loved one before or during cremation:

  1. Witness cremation: Also known as a “cremation viewing.” It’s not everyone’s preference, but some families prefer to be present at the time of cremation. The family is guided to a separate, comfortable room where they can view the casket being placed into the cremation chamber. The many families we’ve served who choose this option often remark that it helped with closure and healing in their grief.
  2. Knowing when the cremation takes place: Your funeral director will let you know when the cremation takes place if you wish. We recently had a family who wanted to know the date and time of their loved one’s cremation so they could take a shot of tequila for their daughter who had passed—her favorite drink.
  3. Viewing: the body can be viewed before the cremation or we can schedule a time to bring the body for viewing to a private home overnight and then return the following morning for cremation. Your funeral director can help with arranging this.

How do you know which option would be right for your family? We strongly suggest having a conversation with your family members beforehand, about what your loved one might want after they have passed. If by chance, your family doesn’t have that prior assurance, our funeral directors can guide you through your options and help you decide what’s best for you and your family. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to memorialize someone, it’s just important that you do. Our staff will honor your wishes to the best of our ability.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to honoring and celebrating your loved one after cremation. Our staff at Horan & McConaty is always here to guide you and help you make the decisions you’ll feel most comfortable with. Please visit our website or give us a call at any one of our seven Denver locations at 303.745.4418.

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