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Everlasting Memories Blog About Life, Loss and Everything In Between

Your Memory Is A Treasure

Posted by H. Schumaker on

Baby it’s cold outside! The winter weather is blustering in, cold temps have taken over much of the country and we are hunkered down ready to finish out the rest of the month of February. And given that this a month of love, maybe some of that love warming our hearts will warm up our feets and help us to endure a few more months of the white stuff. Spring will soon be knocking, peepers, and we have to get through winter to get there. So ride it out and keep your eyes focused on the prize.

I am slowly making my way through my blanket of grief. Very slowly. I really can’t talk about my dad much and I still cry when people ask me how I’m doing. There are days when the grief lingers in the back of my mind, letting me know it’s there but keeping quiet and letting me live fully. And then there’s days when I wear it like a housecoat - unable to come out of the confines of the loneliness of my loss, clinging to the memories, wishing I had kept a voicemail, something. Anything. I have his picture on my fridge, I can talk with ease to my mom about the loss of her husband, my children and the loss of their papa. But losing my dad - I’m not there yet.

So many of us are now at that age where losing our parents, our friends, people that we love - it is becoming a reality. We start attending more funerals than we do weddings, more wakes than we do keggers, see the faces of people we care about us staring back from the obituaries. And it got me thinking - what I am feeling and experiencing, many of you may have experienced yourself or may be faced with my situation at some point in your future.

How can I help?

You read my stories. That helps a few, I think. But there is more out there than that. There are tangibles that can help with the grief, that can bring a little comfort. Cremation jewelry, jewelry for ashes, memorial pendants - really the names are endless and what some may even consider a teensy bit morbid. In fact, when I first heard of cremation jewelry I was like, “Ew.” Now however, I get it. I knew what it was but I didn’t know why I would ever want it. Now I understand why.

Whether you’ve lost someone you love and are looking for a way to connect the disconnect, know someone that has lost and you’re looking for a way to help, simply bored and can’t get past level 281 on Wordscapes - whatever it is you’re doing, this is worth a few minutes of your time. A year ago I could not have written this and understood the value. I can tell you now that the information has proven invaluable for me, that I’m lucky that I knew about it beforehand. For all of you looking for some sort of tangible way to be close to someone you’ve loved and loss, this one is for you.

Cremation Jewelry Explained

Like I said, when I first heard about cremation jewelry, I thought the concept as a whole was a little weird. Cremation jewelry is a jewelry accessory of some sort that has a hollowed out interior. Could be a pendant, a ring, a bracelet, etc. and the interior is accessed by removing a threaded screw. The screw is typically discreetly placed on the bottom of the pendant, by unscrewing the bail, on the back of the jewelry, somewhere where 99% of the population would never see it unless they were looking for it specifically.

The hidden inside compartment is small and designed to hold some cremated ashes. If you’ve never seen cremated remains before they have the consistency of sand - not the white sand of a resort but more pebbly and rough in nature. The interior will hold about an 1/8 teaspoon of ashes so it really doesn’t hold very much at all. Just a smidge. Seal it up with some adhesive and there you go.

Importance of Cremation Jewelry

I guess some of this you don’t really ‘get’ until you go through it yourself. And it’s not a life event that any of us looking forward to going through. That being said, I’m there. And whether you use the word ‘importance’ or you choose another word, cremation jewelry does have value.

Significant comfort factor.

This is probably the most important for me personally. I didn’t think I would find comfort from having that reminder close to me but I have found that I crave it. I need to feel that connection. And cremation jewelry gives me a very unique and highly personal way to do just that.

Allows for absolute discretion.

Again, this is a big deal to me. For someone that considers herself an open book, I have found that my grief is extremely private. Not something that I have wanted to share. Cremation jewelry really allows me the option to have a way to grieve my loss outwardly yet privately, to have that reminder but no one else knows but me. That’s win win in my book.

Highly personal to the deceased.

I don’t care if it’s a t-shirt, a pillowcase, a wallet, what have you. Those things that were personal to the deceased, things that we can touch and feel, when we touch them it does help to make us feel closer to them in most cases. With cremation jewelry, you can wear it every day and have that extremely personal reminder of your loved one with you - whenever you choose to do so.

A touching grieving gift.

Sometimes there are people in our life that go through a loss and we want to do more than send flowers, something more than a charitable donation. Cremation jewelry is a wonderful way to give a family member or a close friend a grieving gift that maybe they would never choose for themselves. Grief has a way of stripping you of your inability to make decisions and in some situations, this is a wonderful way to really help someone that is struggling with the loss of their loved one.

Tips for Choosing Cremation Jewelry

Everyone is different and likes something different. I put together a few tips that hopefully will help with choosing what works best.

Keep in mind your lifestyle.

I think lifestyle plays a huge role in choosing cremation jewelry. If you’re highly active, a pendant may not be the best option. Consider choosing something along the lines of a cremation ring or a cremation bracelet. For those that typically change out their jewelry on a regular basis, a cremation pendant is really an ideal way to integrate a highly personal jewelry necklace into your daily repertoire.

Keep in mind your budget.

I need to do this with life in general but budget is a significant factor. Cremation jewelry is going to range in price from $50 up to $1000. Glass pendants, brass pendants and keychains made from stainless steel are on the less expensive end of the price range and are a great option for those that are buying several. You can find a significant selection of sterling silver and 14k gold plated over sterling silver in the $75-$200 price range and then for those big spenders, there is 14k yellow gold and 14k white gold cremation jewelry that is typically a special order and getting you near the $1000 mark.

Keep in mind the recipient.

If you’re buying cremation jewelry for someone as a grieving gift, keep in mind the age of the recipient. Expensive pieces may not be ideal for a child or teen that has experienced loss as jewelry can be easily misplaced. By the same token, elderly hands may struggle with a clasp on a necklace and a bracelet or keychain may be a little more easily handled. Or choose a pendant with a longer chain that can easily be slipped over the head, never having to worry about a clasp.

And some people like to bling themselves out while others are not that big into jewelry. What you don’t want to do is choose something that is a struggle for the recipient to wear or that will sit on the top of a dresser because it’s not really their style. Take the time to really consider the recipient and choose something that you feel will work best for them - not what you would or wouldn’t like.

Keep your options open.

This one is so extremely important and one that few people think of until they go to their shopping cart. Most standard cremation necklaces include a matching chain as well as the offer of chain upgrades. Most cremation jewelry can be engraved as well with initials, a short phrase, etc. Upgrades, engraving, expedited shipping - all of that cost moola. Extra dollars added on to that total in your cart. Be aware before you start personalizing what the extras are going to run you so that you don’t create something that you love but cannot afford.

Questions, Questions, Questions

I know I said by definition that cremation jewelry was for ashes but it’s not JUST for ashes. Lots of people aren’t cremated, lots of people don’t want to use ashes, lots of people simply don’t have that option. Here’s some of the more commonly asked questions when it comes to what you can put inside cremation jewelry and a few others that people ask frequently.

Can I ask the family for some ashes?

My personal opinion on this is it depends on you, your relationship to the deceased and your relationship to the remaining family. It’s not a question to ask the day the ashes are returned by any means. Wait it out and if the time is right, maybe very gently ask if the family would be willing to part with a small amount of the ashes, you would be honored. Do so with ZERO expectation and be willing to accept the family’s response and/or conditions.

Do I have to use ashes?

No you don’t. I know people that took some of the ground that was blessed from where their loved one was laid to rest in a cemetery. I know of families that put a few strands of their son’s hair inside a locket for each of the siblings. One woman bought a cylinder shaped cremation locket and put a tiny scroll in the locket that had her husband’s name. If you can get it to fit and you find some comfort, I say go for it.

Will the ashes fall out?

They shouldn’t but as with anything, you need to follow the directions when you fill cremation jewelry. You’re not setting up a TV that you pull out of the box and plug in. Most companies include instructions as well as some sort of adhesive or sealant. Read the instructions all the way through, set up your work station in an area that is free from distraction and debris and go step by step.

Can I wear cremation jewelry in water?

I personally never take my every day jewelry off and I know that that is bad. Cremation jewelry is a totally different ball game. Take it off at night, when you’re exercising and under no circumstances would I get it wet. Nothing is foolproof in my eyes and what you don’t want to risk is the adhesive being compromised by elements in a swimming pool, shampoo or soap additives, anything of that nature. Take the few extra seconds and take it off.

Is there cremation jewelry that doesn’t hold ashes (i.e. no interior compartment)?

Yep, there is! Photo engraved jewelry is a fab-u-lous option in this case. I personally have gifted more photo engraved jewelry than Santa Claus himself. The pendants are flat, there are shapes that are perfect for men, for women, for kids. Photo engraved jewelry is typically made of stainless steel and because most of us have pictures of our loved ones, it’s an easy way to choose a picture and have it engraved and gift it to someone else. I’ve done for friends that have lost pets and my Lexi’s field hockey team did two for the parents of a girl from another school in the ISL that passed away unexpectedly her senior year. The parents then turned around and ordered one for every girl on the team and gave it to each of them at the end of the season banquet.

Cremation Jewelry and Me

When I was home in January for my dad’s services, my mom asked me if I would like some of his ashes. Which I very much did and told her so. I also told her that I understood if she didn’t want to share the ashes and wanted to keep Dad ‘together’ and all in one place. She said she absolutely would be happy to give me some of his ashes when I was ready. And I’m not. Not yet.

This June of 2019 my CJ will be graduating from high school. My family will be coming from Montana to help us celebrate. I can’t wait. They aren’t flying in until after Father’s Day and we decided that as a family we will celebrate Lexi’s 20th birthday, Cayden’s 15th birthday, my brother and his wife’s anniversary and our anniversary and Father’s Day on June 23. It’s always been a holiday that I have loved, second to Mother’s Day (sorry not sorry), because I think the role of a dad is so extremely important. Necessary. And I am grateful that my family will be here with me so that we can celebrate the fathers in our lives. And honor the one that will be so missed.

I am a minimalist when it comes to jewelry. I am in and out of the gym, I’ve got a small farm at home and am always being jumped on by a dog. I wear one necklace and one only. But a ring - that won’t get snagged on doggy paws. It’s easy and quick for me to take on and off. And this way, I can imagine it’s a way for my dad to always be holding my hand. So for Father’s Day this year, that’s what I would like to do. Have my mom bring some of my dad’s ashes and gift myself his hand to hold, help me to fill a cremation ring with a part of him that I can keep with me always.

Cremation jewelry is not for everyone and I get that. Heck, I never thought it would be for me. But there is value, importance, healing there. And I am all for whatever can help to mend a heart that is grieving. It won’t bring back my daddy but I am so hopeful that it will help give me the courage to put my housecoat away for awhile, shake out the cobwebs and keep living my life as full as I can. To remember him with more smiles than tears. I am going to hold tightly to that hope...

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