Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices across the county in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint. Colleagues keep a keen eye on relevant stories in the media regarding death and bereavement – today, Becky discusses a recent mention of keepsake jewellery on a popular show…
Last week, one of the items featured on popular BBC show, The Repair Shop, was a piece of memorial jewellery. In episode 10 of series 12, father and daughter, Richard and Nicky, visited the repair shop due to her having accidentally broken a ring which contained some of her Mum’s ashes. They had already attempted to have it repaired via the original manufacturer, who had advised that the damage was too severe and sent it back. The ring was in an unwearable state, and Nicky missed being able to make the most of it, particularly as her sister owned a similar item which she was still happily wearing.
I won’t spoil the story any more – resident Master Goldsmith, Richard Talman, was tasked with attempting to repair Nicky’s ring, and the process is an interesting one to watch. Instead, we at Freeman Brothers wanted to use the story as an opportunity to discuss decisions around keepsakes and cremated remains in general.
I’ve blogged previously on certain decisions regarding cremated remains being irreversible. The permanence of specific choices is well worth considering prior to taking action: once ashes are interred without use of a container, or in certain spaces (such as churchyards or bodies of water), or are freely scattered, they cannot be reclaimed. There are many other options for use of cremated remains within objects, from fireworks to cuddly toys, or in some places, even live ammunition or tattoo ink. Some of these will again be permanent uses of the remains, whilst others may be adjustable in future – cuddly toys are a prime example of this, as typically a small portion of ashes are sealed within a pocket as part of the toy. However, it is important to remember that this isn’t foolproof.
Our best advice when it comes to cremated remains is as follows: wait until you are certain before making a permanent choice – there is no time limit on how long remains may be kept before doing something with them. Places such as funeral directors may charge you a storage fee if they are held on your behalf beyond a certain length of time, but the remains themselves do not expire as such, providing they are stored safely.
We recognise that it can be difficult to decide what to do, and we encourage people not to rush. Some people will quickly and instinctively know what they would like, or be able to act upon instructions from the person who has died, which can make things easier. Other people may wish to deal with ashes as soon as possible as they don’t like the thought of them being in their home, or the task still needing to be dealt with. This, too, is understandable, so you may instead like to consider storing them with someone you trust until you feel able to do what you would truly like with the ashes.
In any case, we urge people to keep a portion of remains aside. As we have seen from previous examples, there are several good reasons for doing this. It means that you have an insurance policy in case of loss or breakage of an item, or additional ashes in case a new product comes to market that you would like to make the most of.
Our experience has taught us that, for many keepsake or useable items – such as jewellery, seed balls, or cuddly toys – a very small portion of cremated remains is required for each item. This can often mean that, even if there are a number of people who would like a keepsake using cremated remains, when that person was an adult, this is often quite achievable.
Finally, we would always encourage people to shop around and find a reputable supplier. Testimonials and examples of previous work are a good guideline, as is transparency – the majority of keepsake suppliers we use will gladly invite you to their workspace to witness the transfer of cremated remains into their product. Your funeral director should be able to provide a recommendation of suppliers, and will work with you to ensure that you get the product which is right for you. At Freeman Brothers, we welcome enquiries for cremated remains solutions from scatter tubes and caskets to keepsake products, whether the funeral was conducted by ourselves or not, so do get in touch if there is a query we would assist with.