Although this post was intended to focus on the cremation of pro wrestler “Big Daddy V;” it’s more about what his wife Cassandra did with his ashes after his death. I saw it as a window from which we could touch upon a big issue for many families: what to do with cremated remains.
I think people have been in a quandary about what to do with the loved ones ashes ever since cremation became widely available. For generations we buried the casketed or shrouded bodies of our family members in an accepted ritual fashion (visitations, funerals, graveside services). That’s not the norm anymore: the U.S. cremation rate is now over 50% (source). Now it’s common to hear stories about families who have boxes of ashes on shelves and garages and in laundry rooms.
Hey, I’m One of Them…
I’ll admit it: my ex-husband’s ashes are in a small freestanding “reliquary” cupboard right behind me. The temporary earned has been there for four years. I can tell you some rather weak reasons — I’m saving them for the time when they can be co-mingled with my own and then scattered (But where? And why? After all, we were divorced almost as long as we were married.) Here’s another ‘more wish than reality’ intention: being an avid scuba diver, it would be appropriate to have his ashes turned into a reef. That’s a bit expensive so the thought passes quickly. The bottom line is I don’t know what I really need to do with his ashes; so there they sit.
My indecision is one reason why I’d like look at the question “what to do with cremated remains.” Another is that I know I’m not alone in the dilemma. The fact “ideas for loved ones ashes” and “what to do with cremated remains” are to popular search terms; tells me that other people really don’t know what they should do with the box of ashes return to them by the funeral director. Before we go deeper, let’s get back to Big Daddy V’s story.
Nelson Frazier, Jr. Dies on February 18, 2014
When pro-wrestler Nelson Frazier, Junior, professionally known as “Big Daddy V”, “Mabel,” and “Viscera”, died in 2014 at 43, the event passed unnoticed.
What did catch my eye was what his wife Cassandra did with his cremated remains. In July of that same year, it was announced she had put his ashes into “500 pendants and placed on necklaces, and then she’s going to gift them to his loved ones” (source).
What a fine idea – memorializing a loved one with cremation jewelry – albeit performed on a large scale. Most of us will never have a situation like that arise. Still it’s a fine example of thinking “outside the box” (pun intended). it’s certainly something any one of us could do: gifting a cremation pendant or keepsake urn to those who’d appreciate it most. What else can you do with cremated remains?
Things to Do with Cremated Ashes
Perhaps the most common thing people do with the ashes of a loved one is to scatter them in a special place — or even more than one place. Unfortunately, people often break laws when they scatter ashes. I can share a story with you: a friend recently arranged a scattering ceremony for her oldest daughter at a local state beach. She didn’t know the legalities of her decision While nothing was said to her by authorities, it’s always smart to check with the authorities and get proper permits.
You’ll find dozens of online articles about what you can do with a loved one’s ashes. One author, Jenn Savedge, The author of a 2016 Mother Nature Network online article made a very good point with her second suggestion: bury or inter the ashes in “a local cemetery or columbarium.”
This is especially important to Catholics, she notes, as the Vatican declared it to be the only option “sanctioned by the Catholic Church. The Vatican recently released a statement reminding Catholics that the ashes of the dead should be kept in “sacred places.” They are not to be kept at home or scattered on “unholy ground.” It can be costly though; a columbarium niche can set you back over $700 – and it can cost closer to $3,000 for an urn burial plot (depending on where you live).
Another suggestion gets us right back where we started: store them at home. One would hope that you wouldn’t just keep the ashes on a laundry room shelf or in a small cupboard with the table lamp on as in my case. Instead you choose a beautiful cremation urn and you would create a small sacred space in your home where you could memorialize your loved one. (Check out our blog post, “DIY Memorials: How to Create a memorial Shrine” for ideas.)
What other things can you do with cremated remains? Ms. Savedge noted a few others some of which seem a little trendy maybe not even very smart. I refer directly to her comment that you could turn your loved one into a memorial tattoo. There’s plenty of information on the internet on how this process is achieved. Other ideas included to aforementioned ocean reef thought regarding Matt’s ashes; along with suggestions like these:
• Send them into the ‘wild blue yonder via services like Celestis, Mesoloft
• Turn them into a vinyl record using a service like Advinyly.
• Turn them into a diamond via LifeGem or similar service
All of these seen just a bit contrived; and are pretty good evidence that, as a society, we just don’t know what we should do with our loved ones ashes.
In the End…
It’s a very personal decision. It’s got to be meaningful; it’s got to be worthy of your loved ones memory. I’m especially fond of cremation jewelry and there’s certainly nothing more beautiful than a well- chosen cremation urn. If you’re looking for inspiration, be sure to check out the articles in the Urn Garden Learning Center as well as other posts in the Urn Garden blog.