ASHES may be all that remain of us when we are cremated but more and more people are choosing to go out with a bang — in a firework or even a space rocket.

Funerals have changed dramatically over the past decade with individual — and sometimes bizarre — requests increasingly being met by funeral directors.

The traditional scattering of ashes after cremation has had a 21st century makeover.

“Now, some people are opting to have a loved one’s ashes made into a firework which is lit and then scatters the ashes over a wide area,” explained John Howarth from Howarth’s Funeral Services in Bolton. “They can set this off for themselves, or have a central rocket as the finale of a bigger professional fireworks display — complete with music if they wish.”

This illuminating way to celebrate the life of a much-loved relative comes with a variety of price-tags — some pay up to £3,000 for a dazzling display with accompanying stirring orchestral piece.

Even more expensive is to boldly go where Star Trek’s Scotty went, and have your ashes blasted into the heavens in a rocket.

One Essex-based company promises to arrange the launch of a symbolic portion of cremated remains into space, and return the module back to earth with the trip officially validated, for just under $1,000 — about £650. Your ashes can be placed in lunar orbit or even popped on to the moon for $12,500 (about £8,000) or go into orbit — to vaporize like a shooting star.

Or you can send the ashes on a voyage into deepest space “on a mission of exploration” in a new service scheduled for 2014/15 for the same amount.

“When we’re planning a funeral, we always try to help people by asking if they have any plans for the ashes. We just let them know what is available, and there are plenty of choices,” added Mr Howarth. “They can have them made into a diamond, where ashes are put under great pressure and heat, or they can have a keepsake like a locket with them in. People seem to like the idea of having the ashes close to them.”

And what is now becoming popular in the UK is an American trend of having a small amount of ashes included in special ink to create a memorial tattoo.

“Popular places to scatter ashes are from planes — this can be done from local airports like Blackpool Airport — on favourite walks, on football and cricket pitches and in lakes and streams, although not in reservoirs as this is treated water,” said Mr Howarth.

“A lot of Hindus like to scatter ashes in the sea. They originally used to travel to take them to release into the Ganges, but these days, because of the expense probably, many go to the sea at Fleetwood which is a popular spot for some reason. There they scatter them into the sea on the basis that all waters eventually meet.

“And some people want to bury a relative’s ashes in the garden so they can still talk to them — or even sometimes shout at them for going.

“We also arrange for ashes to be sent around the world to be scattered. We’ve sent them to all sorts of countries like Australia, and Barbados — I offered to take those myself.”