a body is cremated, the remains, which are often called cremains, are not
"ashes" in the usual sense. They are dried bone fragments that have been
pulverized. They have a sand-like consistency and often contain small portions
from a cremation are not in any way a health risk. They may be kept or
released in a variety of ways and in many locations. You may want to consider
keeping a portion and letting the rest go. Once the ashes are scattered
they are gone forever. Consider keeping a small portion of the ashes just
in case you or someone in your family someday wants to have them as a remembrance
or use them in a piece of jewelry or other keepsake.
of options for ash scattering have been available in the US for a number
of years. In addition to the traditional notion of ashes being placed
in a container and preserved in a columbarium or buried, ashes may also
be scattered in a chosen place.
laws governing ash scattering differ between States but as cremation is
increasing in popularity, so to are the variable and creative options for
how and where ashes can be scattered. The most important factor is
to respect the wishes of the deceased, and the scattering of their ashes
should be performed as part of their wishes, or as a legacy in tribute
to their memory.
How to Scatter
you are choosing to perform your own ash scattering there are several techniques
you should consider when scattering ashes:
ashes into the air Scattering
is simply releasing ashes from a container. It is best to have one person
at a time control the release from the container while others look on.
People can take turns doing a partial scattering one at a time. A group
may scatter ashes simultaneously in a toast-like gesture using smaller
individual containers for each portion of ashes.
the direction of the wind and scatter the ashes down wind. Ashes are mostly
made up of a dense sand like matter and will quickly fall to the ground
but some of it will be a fine powder and this will become airborne forming
a whitish gray cloud.
ashes into a shallow trench A
shallow trench or groove is dug in the soil. The ashes are ceremonially
poured into the trench and at the conclusion of the ceremony the trench
is covered with soil. The trench can take the shape of a heart or spell
out a word. Some people scatter ashes using the trench technique
on a beach and time it so the tide comes, breaks down the trench and washes
the ashes out to sea. Like watching a sand castle be taken into the tide.
ashes into a particular shape Ashes
are poured into a circle, star, heart or other shape. Some like to have
the shape surround a collection of candles, flowers or some significant
objects. Pouring the ashes into a particular shape will require holding
the container close to the earth.
ashes by raking the ashes into loose soil Ashes
are ceremonially poured evenly on loose soil and raked into the ground.
This technique is often used at scattering gardens.
ashes by burial A
hole is dug at least a foot deep and the ashes can either be poured in
the hole or a biodegradable urn can be placed in the hole and covered.
ashes into a body of water If
scattering into the air on a beach be aware of the wind direction.
You don't want the ashes unexpectedly blowing back at you. Remember, some
of the ashes are a fine powder and this will become airborne forming a
whitish gray cloud. Scattering into a body of water is best from a dock
or from a boat where you can make sure and have the wind at your back.
using a scattering urn. Several companies make water-soluble urns specifically
designed to float a few minutes in the water and then slowly sink or disintegrate.
some point in the scattering ceremony, people often toss flowers or petals
into the water as a tribute. The flowers or petals float on top of the
water as the ashes sink.
Where can ashes
people will not be unfamiliar with the cultural practice of scattering
ashes in the favorite place of a loved one. If the chosen place is
somewhere public and part of the natural landscape this can be considered
quite normal practice. Many cemeteries are now re-landscaping their
grounds to provide additional green space with cultivated trees and benches,
as reflective memorial areas where the bereaved can scatter ashes and have
a place to return to. If you wish to scatter your loved ones ashes
in a public area you should check State laws. Speak to your funeral
director for further guidance, but do be sure to adhere to your wish as
some funeral homes are more likely to steer you towards scattering or cremation
interment within their designated memorial grounds.
is also not uncommon for someone’s last wish to involve having their ashes
scattered in a favourite or significant place. Many choose a place to have
your ashes scattered that is close to home like in the garden or flowerbeds,
or perhaps have ashes scattered around a favorite tree or bush. Some even
choose to scatter ashes off the deck or by the patio. A farmer might have
ashes scattered over his land, perhaps be plowed into their field and a
memorial placed at the fields edge. These places are popular because by
the home is convenient and it is easy to establish a memorial on your property.
Having ashes scattered in place that held special meaning to the deceased
is a popular choice. This scattering site might be a place of recreation
like, the golf course, hunting grounds, fishing hole, a hiking trail, a
mountain or ski trail. There is no limit when it comes to scattering ashes.
Remember the phrase, "home is where the heart is".
ashes can be considered a more natural final disposition, plus it can provide
us with a sense of freedom and oneness with nature. This is probably why
outdoor settings of natural beauty are often desired. Scattering over bodies
of water has been a favorite, keeping in mind the concept that all life
began in the sea. It is the sea in which we came, and eventually, life
flows back to the sea. Many see scattering ashes over water or water burial
as the fastest route to the greatest dispersal. If to be scattered far
and wide is the goal, then the sea is appropriate. Many companies
offer ash scattering services at sea, especially close to coastal areas.
There are a whole plethora of businesses offering unattended or attended
scattering at sea packages, chartering a small yacht to full memorial ceremony
aboard a large sailing vessel. Prices vary enormously but usually
start from as little as $100.
those who have a passion for the ocean but who are looking for something
different than a standard scattering at sea – there are now a number of
companies that offer memorialized cremation in ocean reefs. If you
are looking for something alternative to a ash scattering at sea, then
one of these man-made reef memorials may be for you. Prices can start
from in the region of $2,495.
is possible to arrange to have your loved one’s cremated remains scattered
in a dedicated memorial park in Israel, in the hills of Mount Beatitudes,
which overlook the Sea of Galilee, what some may consider a sacred place.
For many this can be a way to offer a uniquely symbolic religious final
resting place. The package offered includes - the ash scattering
ceremony and a commemorative video, a framed certification of the date
and location of the scattering, a lifetime access to the Memorial Garden
and all shipping and administration related to the ash scattering service.
At present this package is sold for $750, you can contact ‘Holyland Scattering’
directly, or you may find that your funeral director is an affiliate and
can arrange it for you.
Memorial Diamond or Cremation Diamond
you have decided, or your loved one requested, to have their cremated remains
scattered, you may still want to have some small personalized memorial
can scatter their ashes in your/their chosen place, and still retain a
small amount of their remains to be converted into a unique memorial diamond.
an adult is cremated about 2 kg of ashes are produced, usually about 500
grams are required for the process of converting the carbon DNA into a
diamond. This means that you can still perform an ash scattering
with the remaining ashes.
diamond is exactly the same in its synthesis as a natural diamond, only
the process is performed in a laboratory and is speeded up. But the
diamond that is created is essentially a pure gemstone, and absolutely
unique that it is a signature of the DNA of the person from which it was
diamond can be kept in a presentation box, or is more commonly crafted
into a special piece of jewelry in order that it can be kept close at all
times, and handed forward through generations.
other popular choice for those interested in ash scattering is scattering
by air, which can be over sea or land. This is usually done
by professionals, when the ashes are cast from a private plane. Some
of them will coordinate with your ceremony to fly over and scatter the
ashes at a specified place and time, and on clear days a cloud of ash can
be seen from the ground. Most professionals will provide a certificate
of the place and time and even photos. Some will allow passengers to attend
the scattering of ashes for an extra fee. Prices can start from around
Scattering’ – Now you can be always in the clouds!
your loved ones’ remains to remain present in the stratosphere forever
new service (July 2012) puts a whole new twist on air-borne ash scattering.
Somehow I think that they are trying to find a unique means to offer people
something more than just an aerial scattering, whilst not taking us as
far as the stars!
Scattering™ has been launched by a Colorado company named ‘Aerial Tribute’.
Their new service is provided by using a high performance glider to take
cremated remains higher into the global thermal updrafts before releasing
the ashes. The result being that instead of just dispersing in the
winds, the cremated remains remain in the upper atmosphere forever.
the extremely powerful thermals over the Rocky Mountains help provide a
natural ‘launch-pad’ by which to offer this unique scattering service.
Aerial Tribute offers a range of customized memorial options, including
digital videos, photographs and musical recordings. The price for
an Ascension Scattering ranges from $600 to $1,000. This may seem
an expensive way of dispersing ashes and laying to rest your loved one,
but obviously far cheaper than a traditional funeral service, and certainly
way more unique!
contemporary option for ash scattering is to have ashes can be scattered
by exploding fireworks. These are special fireworks displays that contain
a number of fireworks specially modified to incorporate cremated remains.
A nighttime display of firework scattering might be the perfect memorial
and the way to say goodbye. Restrictions on firework displays
will apply. Some areas, such as national parks in the United States, require
a scattering permit and probably will prohibit fireworks. Permission should
be sought if scattering ashes by fireworks over areas where people gather,
such as baseball stadiums. Cremated remains can be scattered by fireworks
over private property with the owner's permission. Check with local authorities
to ensure that your fireworks display is legal. Some companies
that offer this service also conduct firework displays over the sea.
Prices start in the region of $3,000.
mode of ash scattering by air involves a small portion of cremated remains
being placed inside a huge helium filled balloon. After its release,
the balloon travels up to an altitude of approximately five miles. At that
height the temperature is 40 degrees below zero. When it cools at this
temperature the balloon crystalizes and fractures, scattering the ashes.
The balloon is biodegradable and therefore eco-friendly.
the stars we are born, to the stars we will return..
was brought to the public’s attention by the Memorial Spaceflight of Gene
Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, by launching a symbolic portion of his
cremated remains into space. Leaving Earth to touch the cosmos is
an experience few have ever known, but many have often dreamed of. Celestis
Memorial Spaceflights makes it possible to honor the dream and memory of
your departed loved one by launching a symbolic portion of cremated remains
into Earth orbit, onto the lunar surface or into deep space. Missions into
space that return the cremated remains to Earth are also available. A small
portion of cremated remains is taken aboard a commercial or scientific
space mission and placed into earth's orbit or returned to earth.
prices between $695 - $12,500 dependent on services.
Beach Ash Scattering
- ‘Life’s a beach and then you die’!
is a term that describes the slow release of cremated remains into the
ocean by digging channels in the sand close to the ocean edge, filling
these channels with the ashes of your loved one, and then slowly watching
as they are absorbed by the ebb and flow of the water. This
can often be conducted as the sun sets, making it a very beautiful and
tranquil method to disperse ashes and hold a reflective memorial service
on a beach of your choosing.
people choose to write something memorable in the sand, such as “Goodbye
Dad. In our hearts Forever.”. This kind of ash scattering service
is extremely easy to carry out yourself, with no costs and generally no
permit required. It is advisable to ensure you choose a quiet beach
and avoid tourist spots. You can dress up the beach with candles
and flowers, and even make a digital recording of the ‘beaching’ memorial.
are some important things to consider to get your ‘beaching’ ceremony right.
You need to know the tides on the beach of your choice – you want to be
guaranteed the tide will wash over your ash-filled channels! And
you want to ensure that the channels are both, deep enough that the ashes
do not blow away, but shallow enough that the cremains will wash into the
Art from Ashes
– Glass-blown jewelry, vases & sun catchers
seems yet another novel, yet quite artistic, way to do something to immortalize
your loved one with their ashes. A small amount of cremated remains
can be used and handcrafted into blown glass during the creation of a unique
piece of glass art. The finished piece is then hand-inscribed with
a memorial message.
from Ashes is a Massachusetts company that works with a number of talented
artists who produce these remembrance keepsakes. The process can
all be completed remotely or you can visit their workshop site. Only
a small amount of cremated remains are required, and you can order anything
form cufflinks to a large sun catcher, or even commission a unique sculpture
of your choice. Some of their glass bead jewelry and glass key rings
made an ideal, and inexpensive, means by which to keep a memento of your
loved one with you at all times.
start from around $150, depending on what size and type of glass artifact
you chose. The process usually takes about 3-5 weeks, again depending
on workloads of artists and type of remembrance artifact you select.
Inking – ‘Ashes to ashes, Dust to…Tattoo’!
tattooing is a rather bizarre trend for using a small portion of cremated
remains to be mixed in with tattoo ink and then permanently inked under
the skin in a tattoo design. Not for the faint-hearted…but as tattoos
have become so popular in culture today, many people feel that it does
make a lasting tribute and something very unusual and personalized to do
with their loved ones ashes.
trend initially started as people choose to have a tattoo to pay tribute
and immortalize a lost loved one, and then actually putting some of the
ashes into the tattoo became an incremental spin on the tribute.
Those who have opted for this claim that it enables them to “carry a part
of” their lost loved one with them at all times!
the medical profession have their concerns, stating that putting a ‘foreign’
substance into the body can cause either rejection or infection, some tattooists
claim they have been performing this safely for years.
Niche and Quirky
Options for Ash Scattering
the cremation rate in the U.S. continues to grow, and as we are all seeking
unique and personalized alternatives to commemorate our lost loved ones,
many new and often quirky, cremated remains industries are emerging.
Vinyly”……..Live on from beyond the Groove! A
businessman in the UK who has long worked within the music industry has
launched a service and web site that offers to press ashes into a vinyl
record. This service may appeal to those of you who can remember
vinyl records, but may become a short-lived enterprise in the digital world.
Vinyly can press the ashes into a record made from your own voice, or a
favorite track of your choice, and they even offer ‘Rest In Vinyl (RIV)
artwork to create a sleeve that immortalizes you.
basic package starts at just over $3,000 and includes 30 ash-infused vinyl
discs with standard artwork.
“Never forget a face!”
Cremation Solutions, a U.S.
cremation product company has now introduced a rather strange cremation
urn receptacle. You can now create a personalized urn made in the
3D image of your loved one! They are constructed using one or two
photographs or your loved one, or the company even offers to create one
in the image of your “favorite hero”! The ‘Personal Urn’ is available
in two sizes, both keepsake at 6” tall, costing a mere $600 and full-sized
at 11” tall, that will cost you $2,600.
Another new niche ash scattering
option has come to market, and one that many American hunters may love,
adding cremated remains to shotgun pellets and quite literally creating
‘holy smoke’. This could certainly be a way of ‘going out with a
bang’! Two state game wardens from Alabama came up with the idea
after joking about how neat it would be to be able to honor a lost loved
one who lived for the outdoors by filling pistol shells with cremated remains,
and inviting surviving family and friends to celebrate a life lived, in
a unique way.
The cost for their services
starts at $850.00. They provide ammunition with your loved
ones ashes loaded in each shell or cartridge.
For the shotgunner: 250 shotshells shipped in
fifty-round, labeled, plastic shotshell carriers with handles.
For the rifle shooter: 100 cartridges in standard
calibers, shipped in labeled, plastic cartridge carriers.
For the pistol shooter: 250 cartridges in standard
calibers, shipped in labeled, plastic cartridge carriers.
Carbon Copies – ‘Rest
in Pieces Pencil Box’ Project
Artist Nadine Jarvis creates
pencils from the carbon in cremated remains. 240 pencils can be made
from the average body of ash, and each can be engraved with the deceased’s
name and birth and death dates. The box containing the pencils comes
with an inbuilt pencil sharpener. It dispenses one pencil at a time
and stores the pencil shavings as they accumulate, so creating a memorial
pencil box urn.
Portraits from Ashes
& ‘Etch-a-sketch’ with a difference!
A Bay area artist, Raven
J. Collins, gained some notoriety by making portraits using cremated remains.
Some ashes are mixed into the paint therefore creating a ‘living’ memorial
portrait. A commissioned work costs between $200 and $400.
It has also been known for
a sketch to be constructed using cremated remains and then sealed using
a polymer or glass.
Suspended in Time Forever….with
an hourglass figure!
I like this offering – you
can have cremated remains encased with an hourglass and made into a unique
keepsake urn. The hourglass has existed for centuries as a measurement
of time. So this presents an unusual way to suspend time forever
for your lost loved one. The structure of the hourglass is beautifully
crafted from wood with a measure of cremated remains contained within the
glass. It is even possible to have both parents ashes co-mingled
in the hourglass – the ultimate and ancient symbol for the passage of time.
This keepsake urn can become a family heirloom to be passed down through
Prices range from between
$350 - $450.
Yes, I know, you are thinking
“WHAT”….. this is the novel new ash scattering option offered from a Kentucky
company ‘Mesoloft’ that enables your loved ones remains to be taken into
the stratosphere to a height where they can be released and fall back to
earth converting into ice particles as they transgress through the atmosphere
– thereby falling from the sky as snowflakes – ergo a ‘snowflake burial’!
So it’s Ashes to Ashes, and Dust to…Snowflakes!
The cremated remains are
loaded into a weather balloon which is sent 20 miles above earth.
The cremation ashes are released into the atmosphere where they drift throughout
the upper reaches of the stratosphere for weeks, maybe months, before returning
to earth as water vapor condenses on the particles of ash causing them
to fall back to the planet.
This is quite an amazing
way to co-mingle the base element of a person (carbon) back with the natural
eco-system of the planet! As the ashes return to earth as raindrops
or snowflakes, you could say that the ‘essence’ of that person is infused
into the living elements of our plant as those raindrops or snowflakes
settle onto mountain tops, oceans, lakes, rivers and tropical forests.
Mind you, arranging a snowflake
funeral does not come cheap! Launches are available from 3 sites
in New Mexico, Indiana and Colorado. A standard launch package costs
$2,800. This includes the launch and release of the cremated remains
(at 75,000 feet), a video of the launch to landing and a commemorative