Interment of Ashes: A Complete Guide

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When a loved one is cremated there are several options for what you can do with their ashes. You can keep the remains in an urn, or you may choose to scatter their ashes somewhere that’s meaningful. Ashes can even be made into art or put into fireworks. One more option is the interment of ashes.

What is an interment of ashes?

Interment is a term for keeping the ashes of a loved one in a permanent place following a cremation. It is a procedure preferred by many different religions and cultures and is for people who want to give their loved ones a final, physical resting place. You can place the ashes in a burial plot, an urn garden, special burial vault, a niche in a columbarium, or bury them on private land.

Interment of ashes is a good option if:

  • You have a particular religious faith, in particular a Catholic interment of ashes
  • You already have other members of your family buried at a specific location
  • You want permanence and a sense of tradition that a cemetery or graveyard can provide

The interment of ashes usually takes place a short time after a cremation. Family and friends may choose to gather at the chosen location, perhaps with a religious leader, someone close to the deceased, or a celebrant to conduct a brief interment of ashes service. The ceremony might include readings, poems, prayers, and music.

This might sound very similar to a burial, but there are some subtle differences. Burial is one type of interment, whereas an interment might also involve placing ashes in an urn, an above-ground burial site, or in an existing grave. 

Should you bury the ashes of a loved one?

Sometimes the family of the deceased wants a traditional funeral. When this is the case, you will still need to decide what will happen to the ashes afterwards.  A traditional option has been to bury the ashes in a cemetery or churchyard a short time after the cremation, but fewer families are choosing this, preferring locations with personal significance. 

Sometimes it can be hard to pick a single, perfect location. Cremated remains have the advantage that they can be divided, giving you the option to place them in several different locations.

This can be particularly helpful when family and friends are spread all over the world, allowing each group to create their own, local memorial and remembrance event rather than struggling to attend a traditional funeral in a location that is hundreds, or even thousands of miles away.

Placing the focus on a personal farewell in a location that means something to the family is one key reason why modern funerals are increasingly split into two halves.

The first half takes the form of a direct cremation which takes place without any ceremony at the crematorium. It dispenses with the usual formality and expense associated with a traditional funeral but with the same standard of care for the cremation itself. The ashes can then be delivered to an address of your choice so they can be the focus of a memorial service at a place (or places) and time(s) that suits friends and family. 

Planning the interment of ashes

Interment of ashes can be performed by cemetery staff without anyone present, but it can be very meaningful, which takes a little planning. Here’s what you need to know:

Choose the urn to hold the ashes

Choosing the perfect urn to hold your loved one’s ashes can be challenging because there are so many options available

Here’s a list of some of your choices:

  • Individual urns: These are to hold the ashes of one person 
  • Companion urns: These are crafted to hold the ashes of more than one person
  • Keepsake urns: These are designed to hold just a small amount of ashes
  • Child urns: These urns are generally much smaller
  • Specialised memorial urns - ideal if you want to recognise a particular passion or profession
  • One-of-a-kind urns: It’s possible to commission a unique one-of-a-kind urn for a loved one
  • Ceramic urns
  • Water soluble
  • Wooden caskets are a very traditional choice, typically made of oak or mahogany
  • Biodegradable urns: These are another option. If you choose direct cremation with Pure Cremation, you’ll receive the ashes in a biodegradable container. 

Save the date for the interment of ashes ceremony

The date for the interment of ashes ceremony can be one that’s suitable for all family members and friends. There’s no rush to make the arrangements, so you’ve got time to find the most convenient date.

Choose the venue where you will bury the ashes

An essential part of the interment of ashes family ceremony is the final resting place. Your options include:

  • Bury the ashes in a new plot: if you want an interment of ashes ceremony at a cemetery or churchyard, you’ll need to sign a burial plot application form. Your local council or cemetery issues this form. If you haven’t got a family burial plot you’ll need to purchase an exclusive right of burial. You buy the plot for a specified period of  years, and there will be certain conditions attached to it.   
  • Opt for a niche in a columbarium: A columbarium is a wall, a room, or a building that is designed to hold cremation urns. The interment is above ground, and many UK cemeteries and crematoria have a columbarium. 
  • Interment of ashes in an existing grave: You can bury ashes in a cemetery in an existing grave, for example, in a family burial plot if you’ve got one.  
  • Bury the ashes in a memorial garden: Many cemeteries and crematoria in the UK have memorial gardens or gardens of remembrance. You can choose from a range of memorials to help you remember your loved one such as a tree, bench, or plaque.   
  • Interment of ashes on private land:  It is perfectly legal for you to bury the ashes in your garden or on private land, as long as you have the landowner’s permission. 
  • Woodland burial of cremated remains: If you choose to bury the ashes of a loved one, there are many natural or woodland burial grounds in the UK. You’ll need to choose a biodegradable urn, such as the one used to deliver ashes after a Pure Cremation direct cremation. 
  • Sea burial of cremated ashes: If the person that’s passed away enjoyed coastal beaches or seafaring as an essential part of their life, this could be the perfect send-off for them. If you’re spreading remains on to a privately-owned stretch of water, you will need permission. However, for tidal coast waters or upon a beach, you don’t need a licence. There are, however, cemeteries and burial guidelines you must follow.

Invite guests to the interment of ashes ceremony

Choosing either an intimate or a more public ceremony will depend on the loved one’s life that you’re celebrating. If the deceased was a reserved and shy kind of person, they might prefer a more toned-down celebration with just a few close family members and friends.

However, the deceased may have been a very gregarious and outgoing kind of person, in which case a larger and more elaborate celebration with lots of guests might be a better choice. In such a case you might have to consider a dress code for the interment of ashes.

What happens at the interment of ashes?

An interment of ashes ceremony is one type of funeral service. It typically starts with delivery of the ashes, an introductory speech, and can include prayers if appropriate. There will be an opportunity for people to say a few words about the person who has passed away before the urn is sealed in place.

The interment of ashes ceremony

It’s usual for an interment of ashes ceremony to last no longer than 30 minutes. It generally follows this order of service:

  • The conveyance of the ashes to the venue either by the family, the funeral director or the crematorium staff
  • All the mourners gather at the location for the interment
  • The ceremony starts with an introduction and sometimes prayers for interment of ashes. A person close to the deceased could do this, a religious leader, or a humanist speaker.  
  • One or more people could give a short eulogy. They will talk about the life of the person who has passed away. There are no rules with regards to the words to say at an interment of ashes. 
  • The ashes are either placed in an urn niche or lowered into the ground. Someone may say a prayer, read a poem, or give readings for the interment of ashes. 
  • The urn is sealed in place.
  • The celebrant says final words or prayers at an interment of ashes, and then the mourners leave.

Popular poems for the interment of ashes

If you’re wondering what to say at an interment of ashes, a poem can help bring comfort to family and friends during an emotional time. Some of the most popular interment of ashes poems include:

  • Don’t Cry For Me
  • Gone, But Not Forgotten
  • Let Me Go
  • Remember Me
  • Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep

Cost of interment

The interment of ashes cost depends on many factors. These include:

  • Availability of space at the interment site
  • Age of the site
  • Popularity of the site
  • Location
  • Whether the deceased was a resident of the area

It’s difficult to compare actual prices because pricing is not consistent. You have to add the cost of excavation to the plot’s cost, together with certain other expenses. These additional expenses might include a headstone’s price, the cost of an interment of ashes service in the UK, and headstone maintenance.

Alternatives to the interment of ashes

There are lots of alternatives if you want to celebrate the life of a loved one. Here are some of the most popular options.

Scattering the ashes

Many people choose to scatter the ashes of a loved one to pay tribute to their life. You can scatter ashes in many locations, but it will be more meaningful if the site is a memorable one, such as a place that was significant to the deceased. 

Creative things to do with cremated ashes

Nowadays, there are lots of creative things to do with the ashes of a loved one. You can keep them close by turning them into jewellery or a beautiful piece of art. Why not let them go with a bang and have some fireworks made from their ashes? For lovers of the ocean, you can arrange to incorporate cremation ashes into an artificial memorial reef. Some tattoo studios are now offering custom ink containing loved one’s remains.

These are just a few ideas. Explore the full list of what to do with a loved one’s ashes for even more creative suggestions.