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How to scatter cremated remains

There is no right or wrong way to scatter cremated remains. The best conclusion to this journey is something that feels good and meaningful to you, honors your grieving process and respects your loved one’s wishes.

If you’ve decided to scatter a loved one’s remains, there are a couple questions to answer that might help you make it a successful tribute.

Who will scatter the remains?

Unless the specifics are outlined in a will or plans were made defining who will scatter the remains, you should discuss it with those who need or want to be involved. Before you release any of the remains, check with family members or close friends to see if they would like to participate and/or keep any of the remains.

Otherwise, you could upset those either hoping to keep a reminder of their loved one close or be involved in the tribute. This can be an emotional experience for all involved, so it’s best to err on the side of being inclusive. This should include family or friends a loved one liked but other family members may not.

What is your plan for scattering the remains?

The remains don’t have to be released at once or at the same place. Your loved one’s wishes and your grieving process will dictate when, where and how many times the remains are scattered. Did the deceased have favorite places? Did you talk about traveling somewhere specific? Talk with other family members and close friends to confirm the best spot (or spots) to scatter the remains. If planned in advance,  you can follow the wishes of your loved one.

If you need a plan for scattering the cremated remains of a loved one, here are some tips:

Ask others to join you on the journey

While it’s common to see photos of people scattering ashes alone, bringing someone along is a good idea. When the time comes, you may need practical or moral support. Emotions are unpredictable and you never know when something unexpected may occur. Bringing a friend or family member could help you get through the experience smoothly.

Scattering remains does not look like ‘the movies’

Cremated remains do not resemble fireplace ash. They’re not uniform in size or consistency. Remains are typically white and very fine – more like coarse sand and powder than ash. Remains may contain fragments of bone. When you scatter the remains, some may take to the wind, but larger pieces may drop to the ground.

You’ll likely get dusty

What you don’t typically hear about is that scattering remains can be messy. When you get where you’re going, it’s important to identify where the wind is blowing, so you don’t end up with remains in your face, hair or mouth. Remains stick to skin easily, so you may be a little dirty when you’re finished. Bring a bottle of water and a small towel. This may feel more respectful than wiping your hands on jeans.

Document the scattering

You may want to remember the experience or share it with those not present for the event. Begin with a photo of the remains in the container before you release them. Then, have a friend or family member take a video or photos of you scattering the remains. Take pictures of  the journey to the location where you are releasing the remains and of the trip back home. Photos and video provide something tangible to keep and share with loved ones and friends.

There are also some traditional and unusual ways people choose to scatter the remains of the loved ones, which we will cover in an upcoming post.

The following questions are answered in this blog post:

Who will scatter the remains?

Plans for what happens with cremated remains may be part of the deceased’s will or end-of-life wishes as discussed or planned with a funeral home. It’s also a good idea to discuss with family members or close friends to see if they would like to participate and/or keep any of the remains before you scatter them. Some may want to take part; others may not, but it’s best to check before it’s too late.

What is your plan for scattering the remains?

Cremated remains don’t have to be scattered all at once or the same place. The deceased may have documented specific plans for the cremated remains in a will or end-of-life plan. If not, discuss locations with family and friends to determine the right location and plan for the scattering of remains.

Is it illegal to scatter cremated remains?

There are no governing bodies in the country or within states that regulate the scattering of cremated remains. nor are there health, environmental or safety issues to consider. If you are going to conduct a cremated remains scattering ceremony on city, town or state land, follow the appropriate bylaws.

Where can I scatter cremated remains?

On private land, obtain prior permission from the landowner. Many choose to scatter remains from a boat at sea, attended by friends and family. In inland waters, this is regulated by the Clean Water Act and a permit is required from the governing state agency. The remains must be taken two miles offshore into international waters before they can be released.

Can scattering cremated remains be harmful to others?

Cremation renders ashes harmless, so there is no public health risk involved in scattering cremated remains. Let common sense prevail and avoid scattering remains in places where people not related to your scattering regularly congregate.

You Can Easily Start Planning Now.

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