After a cremation, loved ones have a number of options for how to handle the remains. They can be kept in an urn, split up and distributed among family members, or even incorporated into jewelry and other mementos. However, one of the most popular options has always been to scatter the ashes, often in a place that's meaningful to the deceased person or to their family or friends. If you're planning to scatter the ashes of a loved one, there are a few things you should know before you do so.
There Are Laws About Where You Can Scatter Ashes
When you're choosing a place to scatter ashes, it's important to find out whether or not you're allowed to scatter them in the place that you've chosen. For example, you can't scatter ashes on private property unless you have permission. That doesn't just mean that you can't scatter them in your neighbor's backyard – remember that places like golf courses, amusement parks, and sports stadiums are also private property, and you'll need permission if you want to scatter ashes there.
When it comes to public property, the rules vary. Scattering is allowed in most national parks, but you have to get permission from the chief park ranger, you may need a permit, and certain areas of the park may be off-limits. Scattering ashes in the ocean is allowed, as long as you go out more than three nautical miles from land, but you may not be allowed to scatter ashes in a local pond, lake, or river – you'll need to check with your local health or environmental agency to find out for sure. And beaches or shorelines are off-limits in many states.
The Ashes May Not Look the Way You Expect
When most people think of ash, they think of the substance left behind in a fireplace after a fire. However, that's not what cremated remains look like. Cremains are coarser than fireplace ash, with a consistency that's closer to that of fine sand. They can range from dark gray to partially gray to white in color.
A container of cremains may also contain small bone fragments. This is perfectly normal, but it can be distressing if you're not expecting it. Keep these fragments in mind when you're scattering the ashes – if you're trying to toss the ashes so that they catch the wind, the heavier bone fragments will be more likely to just drop to the ground. Speaking of wind, make sure that you determine the direction that the wind is blowing first, so they don't blow back on you. One more thing that you may not expect is that scattering ashes can be somewhat messy – the fine ash tends to stick to skin. Keeping the wind direction in mind can help reduce the mess, but you may also want to pack a towel and some water so that you can clean up afterward.
Scattering Doesn't Need to Be a One-Time Event
There's no rule that states that you need to scatter all of the ashes at one time. If you're not ready to let go entirely, one option you have is to scatter only a small amount of the ashes, preserving the rest for another time.
Some people choose to scatter a small amount of ash each year on the deceased's birthday or the anniversary of their death. Others choose to divide the ashes between themselves and several other loved ones or close friends, allowing for a number of small scattering ceremonies. There is no one right way to scatter a loved one's ashes, but cremation does allow you to customize your goodbye rituals in whatever way works best for you.
Remember that scattering ashes can be a very emotional event, even if it takes place some time after your loved one's death. It's a good idea to include other loved ones in the decision about where and when to scatter the ashes. You may also want to avoid scattering the ashes alone – you may need a friend or loved one for emotional support.
For more information about cremation, get in touch with a funeral home such as Naples Funeral Home Inc.Share
13 February 2019
My beloved paternal grandmother passed away almost 4 years ago. Before her death, this special woman suffered many months due to a fatal lung disease. After her passing, her large extended family wanted to celebrate her unique life with an elaborate funeral service. They chose to work with the funeral home staff to decorate the funeral venue with things she loved. Because she enjoyed fishing, a large floral arrangement in the shape of a fish was purchased. Also, the family bought a floral cross to illustrate her devotion to her faith. On this blog, you will discover how to work with a funeral home staff on decorations at the funeral service venue.