For families who have chosen cremation for a loved one, the next decision involves what to do with the remains. Some choose to keep the cremated remains in their home, have them placed in a columbarium niche at a local cemetery, or scatter the ashes in a meaningful place.
Cremation provides families with more time to arrange where and how to scatter the ashes. While there is no policing agency overseeing scattering, there are some basics you should know:
- If you plan on scattering ashes on private property, it's smart to receive written permission from the owner.
- Public parks require that you obtain a scattering permit.
- There are no regulations regarding ash scattering on uncontrolled public lands; you need to use your own judgment.
- You should not scatter ashes within 100 yards of public roads or trails.
- The cremation container must be disposed of separately and in an environmentally-safe manner.
- Scattering ashes in inland waters is governed by the Clean Water Act so it's important to obtain a permit from the agency that oversees waterways.
- Ash scattering at sea must be done at a minimum of three nautical miles from the coastline.
- Any flowers or wreaths used in the ash scattering ceremony held at sea must decompose. No plastic flowers or other non-decomposable items should be left behind.
- For ash scattering done at sea, the Environmental Protection Agency requires that you notify the regional office in writing within 30 days after the event.
How to Scatter Ashes
Cremated remains bear little resemblance to ashes; they look and behave a lot like small-grained gravel. However, there are some fine-grains mixed in so be sure to check the wind direction before scattering into the air or a body of water.
The technique of trenching is another option. Dig a small trench in the location of your choice, place the remains (or a biodegradable urn containing the ashes) within, and cover with soil.
Raking is another technique used. Pour the remains on the surface of the soil and use a rake to mix the ashes.
You may also wish to check out our selection of scattering urns prior to making plans for your ceremony. Should you need advice on how to design a meaningful ceremony, feel free to call us