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What is the interment of ashes?

Interment of ashes refers to the process where cremation remains are placed in a permanent resting place. These range from dedicated family plots and cemeteries to private gardens and woodlands.

Much like a funeral or memorial, there’s no right or wrong way to host an interment of ashes ceremony. Some may choose to host a formal service alongside several family members and friends, while others may choose an intimate or informal interment service. This service doesn’t take place at the same time of the funeral, with some families deciding to have a separate interment ceremony at a time of their choosing. It could be close to the funeral, months or years later, or on a significant date. It all depends on what the family wants.

An interment of ashes ceremony can provide families and friends of the deceased with the opportunity to say final goodbyes and condolences. It also offers a permanent resting location where family and friends may wish to visit in the future. While some families choose to arrange it themselves, we can help to organise a fitting interment ceremony.

Where can an interment of ashes take place?

There are several options when selecting a location for an interment of ashes. Families may choose a more traditional or religious location such as a church cemetery, while others may wish to bury their loved ones remains in a private, unmarked setting. Common locations for an interment of ashes burial include:

Churchyards and church cemeteries: Across the UK there are thousands of churchyards and cemeteries, and they remain a popular option for many families, particularly for those with religious affiliations. If you’d like to host an interment of ashes service in a churchyard or church cemetery, you’ll need to contact your preferred cemetery to discuss any burial guidelines or applications they may require.

Columbariums: A columbarium is an above-ground, physical structure (such as a wall, room or building) where cremation urns are kept. In the UK, columbariums can often be found in churches or crematoria, however more and more are being built each year. Columbariums are ideal for those who wish to create a permanent place where people can pay their respects and are often used for religious reasons or family traditions.

Private land: In some instances, families will want to scatter or bury their loved one’s ashes in a sentimental or memorable location, such as farmland or in the garden. With permission of the private landowner, you can inter ashes on private land using a biodegradable urn.

When burying in private gardens, it’s important to check for any limitations involving freeholds. If you move house, you will need to notify the new owner of the ashes or obtain an exhumation order if you’d like to relocate them.

Woodlands and forests: As with private land and gardens, an interment of ashes in a public space such as a woodland or forest will require permission from the landowner. Across the UK, several woodland burial sites have been established, allowing families to arrange an eco-friendly interment of ashes for their loved ones. With a focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, many woodland burial sites will prefer the use of fresh flowers, stones, or trees as burial site markers over artificial flowers and headstones.

Alternatives to an interment of ashes

Scattering your loved one’s ashes: For some, scattering the ashes of their loved one in a sentimental or memorable location may be preferred over interment. In the UK, there are no explicit laws against scattering ashes, however you may need permission should you wish to do so on private land or in public spaces.

Some families may choose to scatter the ashes of their loved one over a body of water, such as a river or the ocean. Again, there are no specific laws preventing this, however, you should first consult the Environment Agency who can guide on the environmentally responsible practices of scattering ashes.

For further guidance and inspiration around scattering the ashes of your loved one, you can visit our scattering of ashes advice page or you can call your local Co-op funeral director to discuss your options.

Using the ashes in jewellery and keepsakes: Some families may choose to split cremation ashes amongst themselves so they can remember their loved one in their own way. At Co-op, we offer a variety of jewellery and keepsakes that incorporate cremation ashes into the design or structure.

Ashes into Glass Collection: Our Ashes into Glass collection is a popular option for families seeking a personal and sentimental way to remember their loved ones. Crafted using layered molton and coloured glass, families can create bespoke necklaces, earrings, rings, and even paperweights, all of which incorporate ashes into the design.

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Jewellery housing ashes: Our jewellery collection includes housing necklaces and bracelets where a small amount of your loved ones ashes can be held. Pendant styles include heart-shaped lockets, capsules, crosses, and a legacy touch pendant that features the fingerprint of your loved one. Each item is hand-crafted by our jewellery team. We’ll also work closely with you to design a piece that is truly unique to you. Custom engravings are also an option, should you want to commemorate the life of your family member in this way.

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Personalised items: There are several items in our collection that can also be personalised, such as wooden keepsake boxes. These can include personal engravings, such as initials, names, and dates. To discuss the range of jewellery and keepsakes that can hold the ashes of your loved ones, you can read more on our memorial jewellery page or speak to your local Co-op funeral director.

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