Everything You Need to Know About Scattering Ashes

Scattering of ashes is usually arranged by the family of the deceased, separately from any cremation or funeral. It can take place at any time and be done almost anywhere - from your backyard or place in nature like the beach or hiking spot.

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STAFF WRITER

For as long as we can remember, we’ve held rituals and ceremonies to honor the memory of our loved ones. These are cathartic experiences that allow us to grieve and heal at the same time. Today, scattering ashes is a popular alternative to a traditional burial

Everything You Need to Know About Scattering Ashes

Scattering of ashes is usually arranged by the family of the deceased, separately from any cremation or funeral. It can take place at any time and be done almost anywhere - from your backyard or place in nature like the beach or hiking spot. Scattering a loved one’s ashes can be a wonderful tribute to return the deceased to nature, or connect them with a special place they loved.

What Does “Scattering Ashes” Mean?

Scattering ashes describes the act of scattering or spreading someone’s cremated remains. Many individuals prefer to be cremated, and then ask that their loved ones scatter their cremation ashes at a location of their choosing.

Oftentimes, family members of the deceased will scatter the ashes as a part of the memorial service. The act of scattering ashes can symbolize “letting go,” and sending their loved one off on their next journey. The location of the ash scattering can also represent the deceased in some way, such as their favorite location or activity.

Where Can You Scatter Ashes?

Considering your person’s passions, hobbies and the places they loved in life, should help you decide where to scatter ashes. The options are almost limitless. The best thing to do is to consider a place to scatter cremated ashes that best pays tribute to their unique life.

Here are some ideas for where to scatter ashes:

  • At water: sea, lake, river, ocean, beach, or a favourite fishing spot

  • Among nature: a special park, bushlands, outback, or a favourite hiking spot

  • A family member’s backyard or garden; or planted with a tree or seedlings

  • Somewhere of significance in their hometown

  • A family holiday spot

  • Cemetery/memorial park: a deceased family member’s resting place (burial plot or garden)

Do You Need Permission to Scatter Someone's Ashes?

There are no explicit laws stating that you need permission to scatter ashes. However, you should always double check with your local and state laws and guidelines. Policies vary from state to state. If you’re not scattering ashes on property you own, or in a designated ash scattering location, it’s best to obtain written permission from your local government or owner of any private property.

Is It Illegal to Spread Ashes?

There are few scattering ashes laws & regulations in place, but there may be applicable policies based on your desired location.

For example, the Clean Water Act designates some rules regarding a burial at sea. When scattering ashes in the ocean, you must be three miles from land, and in water that is at least 600 feet deep. In addition, only decomposable items may be added, such as flowers. This specific policy can be found through the Environmental Protection Agency. 

How to Scatter Ashes

Scattering ashes is a symbolic ceremony that helps family members say goodbye to a loved one who passed away, and send them off on their next journey. Due to the symbolic significance, location is of utmost importance. It could be at your loved one’s favorite beach or garden.

  1. Research the location that the deceased wanted their ashes scattering, and obtain written permission from either the land owner or local government as applicable. Find out if there are any applicable rules or guidelines and plan on adhering to them.

  2. Arrange cremation services and obtain the ashes. You can opt to receive the ashes in an urn. Otherwise, the cremation service will return the ashes to you in a simple bag or box.

  3. Bring the ashes to the location of the scattering. There are tubes and urns designed specifically for scattering ashes, making it easier for one or more individuals to participate. You can prepare the tubes in advance using scoops and gloves. Otherwise, you’ll want to prepare tools for use during the ceremony. Also be sure to think about how to safely transport the ashes to your designated location.

  4. Make sure to check the direction of the wind to make sure none of the ashes blow back in an unfavorable direction.

Your Family is Our Priority

If you’d like help in planning a memorial or scattering ceremony, our Memorial Services might be what you’re looking for. Visit our Memoria web page here to find out more.

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