Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is never easy. On a practical front, something that many of us wrestle with is the question of what to do with our pet’s ashes (sometimes referred to as “cremains”). Some people have strong feelings about wanting to keep their loved one’s ashes at home while others prefer to lay them to rest somewhere.
If you don’t feel comfortable about receiving your pet’s ashes, speak to the pet crematorium where your pet is being cremated as they will have a service where they can scatter the ashes on your behalf (usually in an unmarked woodland or similar area). You should still be able to ask for a Certificate of Cremation.
As with all things related to pet loss grief, there is no right or wrong about what to do with your pet’s ashes, only what feels right for you.
Thankfully, there are more options than ever before about what to do with the cremated ashes of your pet. Hopefully, you can find an option that feels like a fitting tribute to your lost companion.
And remember that you don’t have to make a decision straight away – many of the ideas below can be carried out long after your pet’s ashes have been returned to you.
- Keep them in a decorative urn
An ever-popular option for storing cremated ashes is a decorative box or urn. These days, there are some truly beautiful urns or memorial boxes available to buy in materials such as ceramic, wood, mother-of-pearl or various metals.
Depending on the design, you may have the option to have the urn engraved, or add a plaque or photograph of your pet.
Urns and memorial boxes come in all shapes, styles and sizes too from rustic-style wooden urns to pristine stainless steel and everything in between. It is even possible to commission an urn that is a sculpture of your pet.
- Bury the ashes
Perhaps the simplest way to memorialise your pet and lay their ashes to rest is with a garden burial. This is another popular option.
Did your pet like to lay in a sunny spot in the garden? Did they have a favourite place to explore? You could bury their ashes in this special space so that you can think of them there in happier times.
If you’re worried about the fact that you might move house one day and have to leave your pet’s ashes behind, you could have a memorial stone made that you’re able to take with you when you move.
Many people choose to plant a favourite tree, shrub or flower to mark their pet’s ashes.
Another idea is to bury your pet’s ashes within a contained plant pot so that you’re able to take them with you from home to home.
- Grow a memorial tree
While we’re on the subject of planting something where your pet’s ashes are buried, you might choose to grow a memorial tree.
Companies such as The Living Urn offer biodegradable bamboo urns that contain a tree seedling and will hold an animal’s ashes. This is a wonderful way to watch a living memorial to your pet grow and flourish.
- Scatter the ashes
Many people choose to scatter their pet’s ashes somewhere that has meaning to them. This could be a favourite walk, a favourite place or even just somewhere that always makes you feel peaceful, such as a hilltop or your favourite beach.
In the UK, there’s no explicit law against scattering ashes, as long as you get permission from the person or organisation that owns the land. You don’t need permission to scatter ashes on your own land or over a body of water.
Regulations around scattering ashes vary around the world, so you should always check your local by-laws.
- Perform a water burial
As there are no laws against scattering ashes over a body of water, you may decide to give your pet’s ashes a water burial.
The best advice is to choose somewhere quiet to do this, as far away from people, buildings and fish as possible and on a day when the wind is low, especially if you plan to scatter the ashes.
You can choose to use a biodegradable water urn for your pet’s cremains. These urns usually float for a while before gently submerging into the water where they safely break down and release the ashes over time.
Another option is to hold a ceremony where you gather with your pet’s friends and family at the beach and you dig a small trench near the water’s edge into which you place the ashes (people often do this in the shape of a heart or their pet’s name). You can then watch the tide carry the ashes away.
As an alternative to laying a wreath for your pet during a water burial, you could scatter something biodegradable like rose petals as you say goodbye.
- Have them incorporated into a piece of jewellery
It’s now possible to have some of your pet’s ashes (or fur or feathers) incorporated into a piece of jewellery. This includes rings, necklaces, bracelets, trinkets, pendants, brooches and more.
If you have a look on a site such as Etsy, you will be amazed by some of the stunning jewellery available.
- Include them in a piece of decorative glass
You can also have your pet’s ashes incorporated into a piece of glass. This could be a stained-glass design such as a window or a rainbow sculpture, a heart, glass pebbles, paperweights, sculptures or candle holders.
Again, a search on Etsy for “glass for ashes” is a great starting point to explore your options.
- Launch them into space
Would you believe that it’s now possible to have your pet’s ashes sent into space? There are a growing number of businesses around the world offering this service to humans and/or their animal companions.
This is certainly one of the more expensive options for scattering ashes but many people like the idea of looking to the skies and knowing that their pet will always be watching over them.
- Have them painted into a portrait of your pet
Some artists use a process where they can incorporate ashes into the ink or paint that they use. They can then paint or draw a custom portrait of your pet that includes a small sample of their ashes.
Again, a search engine search or a creative site like Etsy would be the best starting point to find someone who offers this service.
- Cast them in a statue
Another creative use of pet’s ashes is where they are mixed with concrete and cast into a sculpture, pebble or heart shape, for example.
Rather than being a vessel to hold the ashes, the idea is that the ashes become part of a piece of artwork that represents your pet, either as a statue of them or in a more abstract design.
- Add them to a piece of pottery
Similarly, there is a small but growing number of potters who can incorporate ashes into a piece of ceramic pottery (either the clay and/or glaze). This is a way to use your pet’s ashes to create a beautiful, personalised piece that brings you joy when you look at it.
- Keep them in a special Christmas ornament
If you’re someone who loves to decorate their Christmas tree with ornaments that have great sentimental value (perhaps baubles your children made at school) then you might want to have some of your pet’s ashes added to a special Christmas ornament.
Again, a search for “Christmas ornaments for ashes” on Etsy or a similar site is a good place to start.
- Add them to an hourglass
Another popular option is to keep a precious pet’s ashes in an hourglass urn. People often choose to mix the cremains with sand from their favourite beach (a great choice to memorialise a water-mad dog!) and turn the ashes into a kind of interactive sculpture.
- Turn them into a diamond
A diamond using carbon extracted from the ashes and/or fur of your pet is a beautiful and heartfelt way to immortalise their cremains. The diamond will be completely unique and is grown in a laboratory to your specifications.
Various companies offer this increasingly popular service so it’s best to start with a Google search.
- Get a memorial tattoo
Cremation or ritual tattoos are created by infusing a small amount of your loved one’s ashes into tattoo ink. The ink is then used in the same fashion as it would be during a regular tattoo.
Having a tattoo made with a pet’s ashes is seen by many as a way to keep a part of your loved one with you forever.
- Add them to a soft toy
Although it’s not a substitute for cuddling your pet, you could choose to have their ashes placed inside a memorial soft toy, such as a teddy bear, dog, cat or rabbit.
Some sellers will even make clothes for the soft toy or the soft toy itself from a pet bed or favourite blanket.
This is a comforting way to be able to hold a pet who has died close to you and feel something soft in your arms.
These are just a few of the special ways in which you can take care of your pet’s ashes. Have you tried any of these ideas in the past? Are there any that appeal to you now?
We hope this has given you some ideas for memorialising your pet in a way that feels right for you and your family.
As always, you’re not alone.
Very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support