Letting go of ashes

Change can be scary, and a loved one’s passing is one of the most abrupt and painful changes we can experience. Loss can put you in an unknown and frightening place. A familiar presence that may have felt like a constant and permanent part of your life is suddenly gone, and it can feel like you’ve lost a sense of control and a source of security and comfort. When faced with these scary feelings, it’s natural to want to hold onto what’s left of your loved one, whether it be possessions, memories, or their physical ashes.

Why is it so scary to let go of a loved one’s ashes?

People mourn loss in different ways, and it can take time to let go of the immediate pain and fear associated with death in order to find a sense of closure, remembrance, and gratitude for a special life that was a part of your own.

For some, the funeral, cremation or burial process, memorial services, or simply gathering with others to remember and pay tribute to a remarkable life can provide time to grieve and help offer resolution and healing. For others, when the bustle of activity that comes with contacting relatives, planning services, and coordinating end-of-life logistics comes to an end and so-called “normal life” resumes, trying to move on can feel like losing their loved one all over again.

Person holding flowers.

If a loved one is buried, there is a certain finality to the interment of the body in its final resting place. If they are cremated, unless they’re placed in a formal memorial or scattered somewhere according to the deceased’s wishes, it can be difficult to know what to do with the cremated remains.

After cremation, the ashes may feel like the only tangible connection you still have to your loved one, and it can be scary to think about giving them up or scattering them to the wind. Your natural inclination may be to hold onto whatever you have left of that connection as tightly as you can. But truly letting go doesn’t mean losing control or forgetting. It means regaining power and balance in your life.

Letting go to move forward

It’s normal to be apprehensive about “moving on” after loss. Going forward can feel like you’re leaving your loved one behind, especially when the grief you experience feels like the only connection you still have to them. But it’s important to realize that letting go is not the same as forgetting, it’s about changing the way we remember.

Letting go means transforming the memories of your loved one from something you cling to and are afraid to lose into something you can celebrate and carry on inside you.

Deciding what to do with your loved one’s ashes

After the funeral and cremation, there is nothing wrong with keeping the ashes of a loved one in your home or stored away if that’s what you choose to do. However, sometimes you can end up holding onto an urn of ashes for years simply because you don’t know what to do with them, where to scatter them, or are simply too afraid to let go.

A decorative urn.

An urn or box on the mantel or over the fireplace can sometimes serve as a negative reminder of someone’s death, rather than a celebration of their life. If the only reason you are keeping a loved one’s ashes in an urn is that you can’t decide what to do with them or you’re putting off what you think will be an emotionally difficult process, you should consider making a plan. It may surprise you how fulfilling and cathartic the process can be. 

A final resting place

 There are many different options for letting go of a loved one’s ashes that can give them a proper send-off.

·  You can plant a tree in a biodegradable urn or bury the cremated ashes in a specific place to provide somewhere that their friends and family can visit for years to come.

·  You can inter them at a cemetery or memorial park to ensure they will remain undisturbed in their resting place.

·  You can also scatter the ashes somewhere that was important to the deceased in a scattering ceremony, so they can become a part of a place that they loved.

Whether you decide to place the ashes on your property, at sea, in a national park, on a public beach, or anywhere else with special meaning, it’s important to view the experience as a part of the healing process.


Performing a healing ritual to say goodbye

What you do with a loved one’s ashes is more than just fulfilling their final wishes or doing what you think they would have wanted. It’s also a way for those still living to gain peace, transform their grief, and find a sense of closure. The memories you have of your loved one’s remarkable life will be with you forever, so it’s okay to let go of a symbol of their death.

Group of people watching the sun set on top of a mountain.

Creating a ritual and incorporating a sense of ceremony to the scattering or release of ashes can make the process more cathartic, a symbolic “letting go” of the pain of death, the human ashes “living on” in their chosen place like the memories live on in your heart and mind. This kind of ritual also provides an opportunity to gather friends and family members to celebrate their relationships with the deceased, share memories and anecdotes, and teach children about the realities and cycles of life.


Creating something new

As mentioned above, what you do with a loved one’s ashes is highly personal, and there’s no single right answer for everyone. If you decide that scattering the ashes in a chosen place will provide you solace, relief, and catharsis, find somewhere that will give power and meaning to the act. If keeping them in an urn in your home provides comfort and reassurance that they are with you, create a special spot for them to live.

There are also other options to consider. If you want to keep your loved one’s ashes with you but don’t want them sitting on a shelf or scattered in an open area, you can turn them into a keepsake you can carry with you forever.

Hand holding one-of-a-kind Eterneva diamond necklace.

Eterneva specializes in transforming a small amount of ashes into beautiful, one-of-a-kind diamonds that you can wear and keep close as you go on in life. With just a half cup of ashes, we can grow a diamond that physically holds a part of your loved one in its makeup. In some ways, the process of transforming ashes into a different form offers the best of both worlds. You are simultaneously releasing the ashes while also being able to keep them with you forever as something that reminds you every day of their beautiful smile, their sparkling eyes, and their remarkable life.

At Eterneva, we know there is no moving on, only moving forward. By growing a diamond from your loved one's ashes, we invite you to continue your grief journey with your loved one at your side.