How to Scatter Cremation Ashes:

You are planning a scattering ceremony, a dignified, reflective, quiet moment to release the remains of your loved one. You may be thinking of a water burial or scattering near a special trail in the woods where the family enjoyed walking. Wherever the location, there are often factors that turn the sacred ceremony we have envisioned into a scene from a dark comedy. In hopes that you will have the scattering ceremony you are planning, we'd like to share some tips for stress-free scattering.

  1. Scout the scattering location. Scope out the scatter spot before the ceremony. Will you be walking to the ceremony? Is there access for older family members in the family? Are there rules about scattering human remains in the place you have chosen? Is there a quieter time for a ceremony if you are choosing to scatter in a public location? With some pre-planning you can find the right place for the ceremony you have in mind.

  2. Be prepared for weight and appearance of human ashes. Cremated remains are actually much coarser than most people anticipate. Because we all call them "ashes", we are often unprepared when opening the urn or container. Ashes are really more like crushed stone than fireplace ash. And the full container will be heavy.

  3. Scatter ashes with wind at your back (or use biodegradable urn to contain). Before you open the urn, check the wind and make sure it is to your back--or behind the urn as you open the lid. While there are heavier, large pieces in cremated human remains, there is also a fair amount of ash. Even if you are careful, those involved in scattering may have some ash get on their hands or clothing; they maybe able to brush off this ash or you might consider bringing a bottle of water and a small towel to use at the end of the ceremony. Stardust Memorials offers Scattering Tubes that are specifically designed to disperse ashes in a dignified and easy manner--complete instructions are included with these scattering urns.

  4. Take extra care with water burial due to movement and wind. If on a boat, ask the captain to point the bow into the wind and scatter off the back of the boat. Remember to keep a hand on the boat to steady yourself in waves. Flower petals can be released at the same time as the ash. The petals give you a focal point as the ashes disperse--they will float along on the surface of the water. Alternatively, you may opt for a biodegradable urn, like the Journey Series that will float in water and slowly sink with the ashes inside, eliminating the complications of scattering.

  5. Consider scattering ashes along with planting a tree or larger plant. A larger circular trench can be dug around or along with the hole for the tree. Ashes can then be scattered / poured gently into the trench -- by several family people if desired. Then the soil would be placed over the ashes and root ball of the tree. This scattering method is simple with a sense of closure (the burial) and renewal (the tree that will grow).

As cremation rates rise, with nearly 50% of Americans choosing this method, the number of families wondering what to do with the ashes is also on the rise. Scattering ashes is just one of the options, interment in a columbarium is another, as is burying ashes with a memorial tree. Our blog is an excellent source to answer many of your questions around cremation, cremation urns, and memorial services. Browse the Stardust Memorials Blog categories for more information.