Planning an Ash Scattering Ceremony
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.
Planning a Ceremony for Scattering Ashes
For many families, cremation is the primary choice because it is both affordable and flexible. Whether you want to incorporate cremation into a traditional funeral, more personalized memorial service or even a creative celebration of life, there are many options. At Neil Bardal Funeral Centre, we believe that every family should plan for a cremation service that truly reflects and captures the life lived by the deceased. In doing so, a memorable occasion is created that celebrates those who have passed away. Now that we have shared with you how to scatter ashes, it is important that we provide information about planning a ceremony for scattering ashes.
In order to plan a ceremony for scattering ashes, it is important to understand what is involved. For many families the loss of a loved one leaves a void that cannot possibly be filled. However, through memorials like scattering ashes ceremonies and memorial services, healing can begin. When planning these families must first look into their options for cremation prices, cremation urns and most importantly research the local guidelines for conducting such ceremonies.
When it comes time to sit down and plan, think first about your deceased loved one and the life that they lived. Then, consider the options for their memorial. It is important to find the right location and add all necessary personal touches. Every person is different, so plan for an ashes spreading ceremony that is unique, personalized and thoughtful.
Considerations for Scattering Ashes
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.
Types of Ash Scattering Ceremonies
The common image most of us have of scattering ashes is one of a casting ceremony for scattering ashes where the ashes are tossed into the wind or sprinkled on the surface of a lake, river, or sea. Whether one person is responsible for the casting or it's a group effort, casting a loved one's ashes can present challenges. We advise you check the direction of the wind and always cast downwind to avoid having the ashes come back to coat your clothes, skin and hair.
A floating ceremony requires the purchase of a water-soluble urn, which will float for a few minutes before sinking below the surface to bio-degrade naturally.
A trenching ceremony involves digging a shallow trench into the soil, which is filled from the urn, and then raked over at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Many families – especially those who have planted a tree in remembrance of their loved one – choose a ringing ceremony. A trench can be cut into the soil or the ashes can be sprinkled directly on the ground around the tree or shrub.
A raking ceremony involves pouring the ashes on the ground and then raking them into the soil at the conclusion of the ceremony. This can be a very effortless way to scatter the ashes and is appropriate for scattering ceremonies held on privately-owned land.
A sky ceremony involves the use of a private airplane and does not usually involve family members.
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 at 204-949-2200.
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