Is it your responsibility to scatter a loved one’s cremains (ashes)? If so, there are some things you should know before you start and some decisions that should be made – else you could be sorry!
Where are you planning to scatter the cremains? Sometimes families decide to scatter the ashes in the deceased’s favorite places, that recall memories of vacations, homes, and significant events.
You may select one location or more depending on the places that are most important to you and your loved one. Scattering either on land or sea is common. You should make sure that you have the proper permits and are legally allowed to scattering at the desired location.
5 Scattering Ideas
1. It is a good idea to open the container with the ashes in it, so you are not surprised by their appearance. They are not always soft and consistent ashes. You may even find some bones fragments. The color ranges from a dark color to white – depending on how long the cremation process was carried out and at what temperature.
Almost always the cremains are return from the crematory in a plastic box that looks very much like the one to the right. Generally it is black, but sometime brown. The lip just pops open and the cremains a contained in a heavey plastic bag.
2. Are you just going to scatter the ashes all at once? Maybe you will want to split the cremains – keep some at home and scatter the rest. Smaller urns called keepsake urns are available to hold smaller amounts of cremains – we have several on-line. Maybe some other family members will ask for some of the cremains too. If you are planning to do several scatterings, you might want to re-package the ashes in smaller containers.
3. If you are going to fly to one of the scattering destinations, by all means put the ashes in your carry-on luggage. If the airline loses your luggage, you will have the ashes with you on the plane. As well, make sure you have the correct paperwork – very important. Airport security does know that the 6 pounds of white power you are carrying is your relative.
4. If you are scattering ashes over water, add flowers to be able to see where the ashes are going and be sure to take lots of photos. If in the San Diego area we can assist with this as we do hundred of burials at sea each year.
We have been doing scattering at sea for years, have a variety of yachts as well as handle all the details and paperwork for you. If you are doing it yourself make sure you hae the proper legal document – box 16A on the disposition permit should say “At Sea off the coast of San Diego County”. This permit needs to be return to the county after scattering.
5. Stand Upwind – I you don’t think this is very important you should watch the movie “The Big Lebowski” with Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. The cremains if they get on you have a tendency to stick to your skin. There is nothing dangerous in this as the cremains are not harmful on the skin although it is probably not a good idea to breath or ingest them.
If you are scattering over land make sure there are no local ordaninces against it. If you plance to scattering on private property get the permission of the land owner. I scattering on public land, get a written letter of permission from the governing agency.
Celebrate the life
One additional thing when ash scattering. Remember to have some type of ceremony. The ceremonies can be as unique and personal as your loved one. There are no right or wrong ways to celebrate a life.
Each life is unique, so should the celebration of it be. Celebrate the life which has passed – share memories.
We’d love to hear your if you you haven any expereince with scattering a loved one’s cremains – either at sea or on the land. Please just send us some information in the comment section below and we would be happy to post it here.