The death of my cat Lola drastically changed my thoughts about ashes and what to do with them. Here's how and how it played out when my dad died.
When my dad died we opted for a cremation. None of our family have ever been buried, it's just not ever been an option we considered. With every cremation there is the question of "what do we do with the ashes?" The ashes of some of my relations have been scattered in gardens of remembrance at the crematorium, some have been buried with other relatives who died before them, my great uncle Horace was scattered in the sea. He had been in the Navy and that was a part of his life that he had really fond memories of and a part we had heard many stories about. We did not realise at the time that we could have contacted the Royal Navy to arrange a ceremony for this at sea (https://scattering-ashes.co.uk/ash-scattering-service/committal-service-royal-navys-chaplaincy/).
Before dad's funeral, we had talked and decided that he would be scattered at sea, ideally in Cornwall. This is what my mom wants when her time comes so it seemed like the best idea. We did wonder at one point if it was ok to do this as dad could not swim (bereavement, and the wine you drink as a result of it makes you think strange things!!) but we decided that after death that probably wasn't an issue! We were planning a holiday in Cornwall and decided we would scatter dad then as Cornwall was like a second home to our family. One day though, out of the blue, my mom said "I don't want to scatter you dad, is that ok?" We unpacked this and realised that my mom just wasn't ready to let the last physical part of my dad go, and that was fine. All this time my dad's ashes had been at the funeral directors as mom could not cope with having him home until we knew what the plan was and she'd been worried I would be upset that we were not scattering dad as we had agreed. I didn't mind, all I wanted was for mom to be happy with her decision.
I will confess now that I had always thought that having the ashes of a loved one back from the crematorium and keeping them in the house was weird. It struck me as macabre and creepy. I also worried about the practicalities - what if you dropped the urn, how would you clean them up - I remembered that Royle Family episode where Mary ends up in the Dyson! This all changed though one day last year when my much loved 15 year old cat Lola had to be put to sleep. I hysterically cried to my husband that she had to be cremated and it had to be a single cremation as I wanted her back home with us! I could not believe that the words were coming out of my mouth, but I could not stand the thought of her little body being cremated with other random animals or worse, being disposed of like clinical waste, it didn't feel right, so we had a single cremation for her and had her home inside a cat shaped ornament. She sits on our mantlepiece and I get a lot of comfort from that. Her brother cat Tom spends an hour most days in the dining room by the ornament in quiet contemplation, usually around 8pm!
Going back to my dad, Mom opted for a wooden casket with a brief inscription. Her friend's husband died within a few days of my dad and she had opted for this and mom really liked the idea. Our funeral director Jodie helped us to arrange this and it was sorted very quickly and we collected dad as soon as he was ready, no more delays, as mom was happy. She says that it has really helped her with her grief and she feels so much happier since he has been home.
I know this is not for everyone, but what I would say is don't feel that you need to decide what to do with a loved ones ashes straight away, wait, think, discuss, pray on it if that is your thing but above all else take your time as some decisions like scattering are final and the decision you make in that moment may have an impact on your grief and the grief of other family members.