After the emotional nature of the funeral and memorial service, you are beginning a journey towards acceptance of the loss of a loved one. Part of this journey is the difficult decision of what to do with the ashes. In the past, the tradition was for the one closest individual to them to keep the entirety of the remains; now there is a movement towards dividing these ashes so as to give all the closest family a way in which to remember them by.
There have been numerous cases which have delved into the area of the division of ashes. This usually only occurs when there is a dispute in the family as to where to scatter/keep the remains. The law considers ashes to be the same as a body, so is unwilling to rule for separating them amongst different parties. However, if your family and friends are all agreed then there should be no legal issues.
The standing of religion varies greatly and usually depends on that theology’s approach to cremation as a whole. For example, the Catholic Church accepts cremation but advises that the ashes be treated as a body, so they should be in an urn not scattered or separated. Hinduism supports cremation and the scattering of ashes, whereas Islam does not. If you need further advice on this, you should research into the religion’s opinion or seek guidance from your local religious community and representatives.
Why Divide Ashes?
There are many reasons you may wish to divide ashes amongst your loved ones. The main purpose is to give all those closest to the person a chance to keep and celebrate them in their own way. It can assist with closure and be a cathartic experience to scatter ashes, but perhaps your family is spread out. If you separate the remains, this means that person can be scattered by their whole family in many of their favorite places. There is also the multitude of different things you are able to do with ashes now. Perhaps you and your siblings would all like a piece of memorial jewelry made, so you can all keep a part of your loved one with you forever. Maybe some of you would prefer a mini-urn to bury in your garden or keep close by. Whatever you and your family choose, you are all given more freedom to work through your grief and commemorate your loved one in the way that best suits each individual.
Remember, grieving is a difficult time for everyone and people deal with bereavement differently. Take your time to discuss with your family your lost one’s wishes, and how you all feel it would be best to move forward with their remains.