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The pain of losing a loved one causes some to consider the metaphysical aspects of ashes, and if a real part of the person is still present. There are broad theories about whether there is energy in cremated remains. We’ve summarised what you need to know below.
Is There Energy in Cremated Remains?
From a purely technical view, energy from a deceased individual is released as gases during the cremation process. The ashes that are left comprise of mainly calcium from bone, sodium, and some potassium minerals. This aligns with thermodynamics law which states that heat energy cannot be made or destroyed. Rather, it is converted to other forms and locations.
Some religions and theorists view this process as the spirit or consciousness of the deceased departing or crossing over. There is no supported research to confirm this transition as fact. In this regard, science has been unable to substantiate if energy or the “presence” of an individual remains in their ashes beyond an understanding of biological compounds.
Essentially, if you personally sense the energy of a person who has passed in their ashes then it is possible and down to personal experience.
While grieving loved ones may find comfort in knowing that energy lives on in cremated ashes, it can be healing to consider this more broadly. The presence or essence of a person may linger in their home, favorite place, or even in a physical object like clothing. Those who were connected to the deceased often refer to a sense or intuition that a spirit or energy is around.
Where Does Your Energy Go When You Are Cremated?
The human spirit or soul energy is so present that it can come as a shock when someone passes. This loss is emphasized when a death is unexpected or tragic. Those left with an absence in their lives often question the afterlife or where their loved one is. Modern ideologies offer the following answers:
Human ashes have no energy
This atheist view is one that aligns with science – ashes do not have any detectable physical energy. One simply ceases to exist after they have passed on.
The Catholic faith believes that death is the end of physical life and transfer into a spiritual one. It is said that immediately after death, the soul separates from the body and stands before God for judgment. A soul will then enter heaven, purgatory, or hell. Bible scriptures detail the future resurrection of the soul and body during the second coming of Christ.
In contrast to mainstream Christianity, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in an eternal spirit after death or Hell. Those who have passed are said to lie unconscious until the end of the world when all worthy disciples are resurrected to heaven.
Reincarnation is the belief that upon the person’s death, the soul comes back to earth in another body or form. Also known as rebirth, this concept forms part of many religions including
Sikhism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Buddhists believe reincarnation can take up to 49 days to go through various stages after death. During this intermediate phase called the Bardo, the energy of the deceased may be present in cremated ashes.
Understanding Physical Cremains
Knowing the basics of the cremation process and its outputs may provide some clarity on energy in cremated ashes. Here are some handy facts:
What are the ashes left after cremation?
Cremated remains are comprised of mainly grey bone fragments of the deceased. As mentioned earlier, most organic matter and minerals are evaporated as gas.
How much in ashes are collected when a body is cremated?
This varies greatly between individuals as those with a larger frame usually create more ash. An adult body will average yield 5 or 6 pounds of ashes following traditional incinerator cremation. Those who have opted for an aquamation will yield approximately 30% more ash.
What do they put your ashes in after cremation?
Once a body has been cremated, the ashes are placed into a machine that removes any metals and grounds the contents. The ashes are then transferred into a temporary container or directly into an urn that the family provides.
Treatment of Cremated Ashes
Most people who come into possession of cremated ashes are unsure of how to treat them, or whether there is anything to avoid. Rest assured that there are no hard social conventions or omens – it is more a case of what you are comfortable doing or the wishes of the deceased. We’ve detailed some common queries below.
Touching cremated ashes
From a safety point of view, touching cremains isn’t harmful as all microorganisms are killed in the incinerator’s heat. The ashes are inert and pose no public health risk. This is why many there are many options for repurposing ashes into jewelry, art, or even a tattoo.
Is it bad luck to open an urn?
Urns are commonly opened for practical reasons such as scattering ashes, splitting cremains between family members, or even creating keepsakes or jewelry. Given that opening an urn is a generally accepted action, it is unlikely that bad luck will come to those who do so, particularly if it is done respectfully.
Is it bad luck to separate ashes?
There is generally no firm view on whether bad luck comes to those who separate ashes. Whether you choose to do so depends on the wishes of the deceased and other factors such as religious alignment. For example, the Catholic church does not support the separation of ashes as they believe in the future resurrection of the body as a whole.
Is it ok to put cremated ashes in the ocean?
The EPA legally allows you to put cremated ashes in the ocean as long as this occurs 3 nautical miles from land or more. The ashes should be scattered from a boat or plane.
What can I do with cremated ashes?
There are plenty of options to consider when deciding what to do with cremated ashes. Some of the common practices include:
- Interring ashes in a cemetery niche or columbarium
- Scattering ashes in a meaningful location such as a football pitch, in nature, or in the ocean
- Planting the ashes into a tree using a biodegradable urn
- Turn the ashes into glass art or a sculpture
- Keeping ashes at home (see below), or even separating out some ashes to scatter in a meaningful place while retaining a portion
- Turning cremation ashes into jewelry. Some popular options are below:
Keeping Ashes In The House
A common approach taken for cremains is to keep them at home. This allows grieving loved ones to remain physically close to the deceased after a loss, particularly if they feel that there is energy in cremated ashes. While this option may suit some, others may be hesitant to keep an urn in their living space. This may be due to superstition or religious reasons. We address some of the concerns below.
Is it legal to keep cremated ashes at home?
Yes, ashes are permitted to be kept at home and this is perfectly legal.
How do people display cremated ashes at home?
There is no “proper” way to display cremated ashes. Some choose to keep inurned ashes in a private place away from living areas. Others elect to create a formal memorial space complete with pictures and objects that were special to the deceased. A good balance of options is to place the ashes on a bookshelf or as a wall-mounted plaque. In any case, ensure that the urn is secured so that pets or children are unable to knock it over!
Do human ashes smell?
Human ashes should not emit an odor if they have been properly cremated. This is because all organic matter is released as gas during the incineration of the body. Any noticeable smell or vapor is likely from the urn itself rather than the ashes.
Is it bad luck to keep ashes at home?
The general view is that keeping ashes at home does not attract bad luck, with little evidence to support the onset of negative energy. From a spiritual perspective, some mediums believe that the identity of the deceased has an influence on whether ashes are an omen. If the person who passed was of poor character or did not bring positive energy to others then this may impact the balance of energy at home.
Do cremated ashes attract ghosts or spirits?
There are broad theories on this and there is anecdotal evidence throughout history of ashes attracting the paranormal. Whether this was caused by the physical presence of cremains is unproven. Spirits may feel an affinity to not just their old body, but also to people, meaningful places, and even objects.
That said, having cremated ashes at home does not necessarily mean that you’ll be visited by a ghost. Many families choose to do this and have had no supernatural experiences.
When shouldn’t you keep ashes at home?
If you are struggling with the grieving process, having a visible reminder of the deceased at home may hinder your ability to move on and heal. The pain experienced after a death can linger for a long time – locating the ashes of a loved one elsewhere may be a better option as long as it can support you in letting go.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a bible verse about cremation?
The Bible does not have a clear position on the cremation of a body. While this is the case, some scriptures imply that burial is the preferred and traditional practice for Christians.
Do cremated ashes have nutrients?
After cremating a human body, the resultant ashes are mainly comprised of calcium phosphate compounds from bone, sodium, and some potassium. Any organic nutrients are likely to be evaporated from the incinerator. Given this, cremated ashes do offer some benefits to plants but the impact would be minimal.
Is there carbon in cremated ashes?
Most of the carbon in human remains is oxidized as gas during cremation. The remaining carbon in the ashes comprises up to 4% of the mass. This is predominantly in the form of calcium carbonate from bone tissue.
What does god say about keeping ashes?
For Christians and Catholics, the burial of ashes or storage in a church or columbarium is preferred over the scattering of remains.
Who has the right to cremated ashes?
The widowed spouse or domestic partner has the right to cremated ashes. In the absence of a spouse, the cremains may go to any children or surviving parents.
What does the Bible say about separating ashes?
The Bible doesn’t address the separation of ashes and does not prohibit this. However, the Vatican has decreed that ashes should not be divided – they should instead be stored in cemeteries or an approved location.