How to Scatter Ashes In A Peaceful Way

Scattering ashes is a final farewell to a loved one. Many people have never scattered ashes before and are unsure about how to make it a respectful, meaningful experience. You may be considering scattering the ashes over water, scattering in the woods, or scattering at a place where you made memories together. The urn experts at Stardust Memorials offer the following tips on scattering ashes in a peaceful way.

  1. Scout the scattering location. Scope out the preferred scattering location before other friends or family arrive and without the ashes in hand. Try to visit at a similar time of day. Look at the site while considering privacy, noise, physical terrain, and weather. Will you be walking to the location? Is there access for any older family members? Is there parking? Are there rules about scattering ashes in the place you have chosen? Some state and national parks, for example, have rules about where ashes can be scattered. Do you feel the location is quiet and/or peaceful enough for your plans? If you are reading a poem or sharing a memory, will attendees be able to hear you? Would scattering at sunrise or sunset add meaning for you? Take your time to find the right place for this important scattering ceremony.

  2. Be prepared for the weight and appearance of human ashes. Cremated remains are coarser than most people anticipate. Because we call them “ashes,” family members can be unprepared when opening the urn or container. Ashes are more like crushed stone than fireplace ash. A full urn or scattering container will be heavy. An older person may require help if you are scattering over the side of a boat, for example.

  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. Be prepared just in case those involved in scattering get some ash get on their hands or clothing. You might consider bringing a bottle of water and/or a small towel for clean up if needed. 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. The person scattering should keep a hand on the boat to stay steady in waves. You may opt for a biodegradable urn, like the Journey Series, that can be placed on top of the water. It will float briefly and then sink under the waves. The urn biodegrades -- releasing the ashes into the ocean or lake. Floating urns like the Journey Urn remove many worries of scattering ashes from boats and into water. Whether you scatter ashes directly in the water or use a floating urn, a beautiful touch that many families have added to the ceremony is to release fresh or dried flower petals on the water at the same time. The petals give a colorful and gentle focal point as they float away on the surface of the water.

  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 or plant. 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).