Ashes to Ammo

All of us can understand the desire to keep a loved one around after they’ve gone.

But to keep them as rounds?

That’s the proposal of  Holy Smoke LLC, an Alabama company with an unusual use for the ashes of the dead. Holy Smoke loads them into shotgun shells, or rifle and pistol cartridges, so that friends or relatives of the bereaved can take them on one last hunting trip.

“People take ashes and spread them across lakes or forests or throw them in rivers, and nobody thinks twice about that,” co-founder Thad Holmes told Reuters.  “This is no different.”

“I would rest in peace knowing the last thing I did was to go screaming at that turkey at 900 feet per second,” his business partner, Clem Parnell, told ABC.

Where’s Jeff Foxworthy when you really need him?

Curiously, the first thing I thought of on reading this was jewelry. For some years now, a company called LifeGem has offered to take the ashes of the dearly departed and make them into a synthetic diamond that can be set in a ring or pendant. (As a co-worker once put it, “If he wouldn’t buy you diamonds while he was alive …”)

Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned. But something about all this doesn’t feel quite right.

Understand, I’m not the type to insist on the hard and heavy when it comes to funeral rites. (My mother has let us all know that when her time comes, she wants Dixieland music.)  Nor have I ever insisted that you have to “move on” and find a way to somehow get over a person who was an intimate part of your life. Something’s going to stay with you and that’s OK.

I’m just not sure if that something should stay in your ammo clip.

Ironically, what it suggests to me is that we’re not that comfortable with death. That we have to find a way of whistling past the graveyard, of trying to make it less serious than we truly believe it to be. That to let go of even the smallest piece of someone would somehow be to lose them from our lives and memories.

It’s understandable. But it may also be unnecessary. Memories are strong stuff, stronger even than double-ought buckshot or a .50-caliber Desert Eagle round

Still, if that’s really how you want the memorial to be – and, as importantly, how they wanted it to be –  be my guest. In a sense, I suppose burying someone in a deer at 200 yards is no stranger than burying them in the ground at two. There’s even some precedent – Hunter S. Thompson (of course) had his own ashes loaded into a cannon and fired off from a 153-foot tower in Aspen.

In the end, it’s the respect that matters. And the love. And the chance to say goodbye with a full heart.

And hopefully, in this case, with very, very careful aim.