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Scattering Ashes

Where and how can I scatter cremation ashes?

Many people will hold a funeral or memorial service, as well as an ashes scattering ceremony.  There are many options when it comes to scattering ashes.   If the land is privately owned, permission from the owner of the land will suffice.  If the land is public, you will need to check with local authorities for any regulations.    Ashes can be scattered in lieu of preserving them in an urn, grave, or keeping them in someone’s home.  Some people have specific places where they want their ashes to be scattered, others prefer their ashes be scattered in a particular manner.  Some of the most popular and common places to scatter the ashes are in a river, pond, lake, hillside, golf course, hunting ground, flower bed, hiking trail, or garden.

Location will determine the method of scattering, but there is a specially designed urn called a “Scattering Urn” that can ease the task and maintain the sense of dignity in the service.   

 There are several different methods that can be used to scatter ashes:

  • Casting – the act of simply tossing the ashes to the wind.  This is usually done by one individual person or a group of people in front of a grieving “audience”.  The ashes will fall to the ground immediately, but the person tossing them should pay attention to the direction of the wind.  

  • Trenching - This is done on land when a shallow trench or groove is dug in the soil.    The ashes are poured into the trench, and then the soil is raked over at the end of the ceremony.  Candles can be lit around the trench or a special symbol can be drawn over the trench.

  • Racking – The ashes are poured from the “scattering urn” evenly and loosely on the soil.  They are then racked over and into the ground.

  • Green Burial - A hole is made in the soil, and the ashes are pored into the biodegradable urn or the ashes are scattered onto the soil.  

  • Raking- The ashes are poured from the scattering urn evenly on loose soil and raked into the ground.  This is often how it is done in the scattering gardens that are now located in many cemeteries. Your funeral director can help you find a scattering garden in your area.

  • Water Scattering – A “water-soluble urn” are specifically designed to gradually disperse the ashes back into the sea or body of water.  Ashes can be cast directly into the water, but may get caught in the wind and cling to the sides of the boat.  A water soluble urn will float for several minutes then slowly sink where it will degrade.  The family members aboard the boat can cast flower pedals as a final tribute to the deceased.

There is great comfort in the idea that a loved one’s remains can forever be associated with a place that had special significance to them and their family.  The ceremony of the scattering the ashes can help give family members and friends the closure they need and begin the grieving process.

Also See Articles on:
Memorial Resources
Memorial and Funeral Ideas
Writing Obituaries

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