Cremains of the Day

hst_and_depp.jpg After Sunday’s memorial ceremony for Hunter S Thompson, a portion of whom was fired out of a cannon, not to mention the orbiting remains of various Star Trek personalities, you might be wondering what sorts of things you can do with your own cremated remains — or ‘cremains’ in the industry parlance.

First off, there’s the popular Scattering at Sea. Apparently, you aren’t scattered so much as lowered into the ocean — this prevents blow-back, never an attractive moment. On a budget? According to one local company, Pacific Coast Ashes at Sea:

The high cost of dying keeps going up… it’s not uncommon to receive quotes for a traditional funeral upwards of $5000… and that doesn’t include interment. For budget-conscious families, we offer ‘unattended scattering’ service. We receive the cremains by mail from you, conduct the dispersal and send you the Certificate of Scattering with the exact Global Positioning System coordinates of scattering. All-inclusive cost is $395.

Not a bad deal. And you can even ship remains to them via the USPS, so if you have a relative who, let’s face it, wasn’t the most popular member of the family, this might be a respectful way to go. ;)

Of course, that’s the surface method — there’s also an Aerial Ash Scattering, which A Journey With Wings and similar companies can handle for you. The father-daughter team seems nice enough, but I gotta tell you, you might want to rethink using this animated GIF in your contact section:

This just doesn’t communicate gravitas. Actually, it communicates a certain amount of creepiness, but maybe that’s just me.

If you’re a veteran, you might want to look into getting scattered as part of the Rose Garden Ossuary at the Los Angeles National Cemetery, which seems like a nice idea.

The State of California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau has a description of what state law requires in a cremation (but you might want to skip that part if you don’t want to deal with the gory details). Here’s what you can do with your cremains in California:

  • Placement in a columbarium or mausoleum – There may be additional charges for endowment care, opening or closing, recording, flower vase, and nameplate
  • Burial in a plot in a cemetery – There may be additional charges for endowment care, opening or closing, recording, outer burial container, flower vase, and marker
  • Retention at a residence – The funeral establishment or crematory will have you sign the Permit for Disposition showing that the remains were released to you and will file it with the local registrar of births and deaths. You may not remove the cremated remains from the container and you must arrange for their disposition upon your death
  • Storing in a house of worship or religious shrine if local zoning laws allow
  • Scattering in areas of the state where no local prohibition exists and with written permission of the property owner or governing agency. The cremated remains must be removed from the container and scattered in a manner so they are not distinguishable to the public
  • Scattering in a cemetery scattering garden; or
  • Scattering at sea, at least 500 yards from shore (this also includes inland navigable waters, except for lakes and streams)

No mention of cannons or spacecraft, so you might have to get yourself launched on the QT. Whatever you decide, though, make it meaningful — after all, why not make this final destructive act your life’s final creative action?