Sharing a Loved One's Cremated Remains

Japanese Culture - The Hone Wake

WikiCommons/Autumn Snake
At her grandmother's funeral in Japan, author Ruth Ozeki explains another Japanese custom called "hone wake" or "dividing the bones, which is often practiced when a person’s family lives in different places." On her return to the US from Japan, she brought with her some bones of her grandmother, which she was to deliver to her mother. The experience inspired her to film a documentary called "Halving the Bones".

In the United States, if would be difficult to honor the true Japanese tradition of the hone wake, as most states require the pulverization of cremated remains after incineration. This process which is what gives cremated remains their ash-like appearances. Like the Japanese tradition, many American families also choose to share their loved one's cremated remains. Oftentimes, when there are multiple siblings, each sibling will receive a small portion of a parent's remains. These portions are usually kept in smaller urns, referred to as a "keepsake urns".

Please share your thoughts on sharing a loved one's cremated remains. Do you or will you keep a small portion of a loved ones cremated remains? Why or why not? Or do you know someone who has a keepsake urn?

Ozeki R. L. (2008). The Art of Losing: On Writing, Dying, & Mom. Shambhala Sun