Scattering ashes of a loved one is a common option chosen by families throughout the U.S. According to the National Funeral Director’s Association (NFDA) 2019 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Survey, nearly half of families prefer to scatter ashes of a loved one at a sentimental place, while only less than ten percent plan to keep the ashes in an urn at home. In addition to the increased interest in scattering ashes, more and more people are opting for cremation. According to the NFDA, only 25% of Americans were cremated in 1999, jumping to over 50% in 2015, and this expected to surge to nearly 80% by 2035.
Where Can I Scatter Ashes?
Families commonly ask funeral directors where they can scatter ashes of a loved one. The answer depends on where you are and what you plan to do. Most states, cities and counties allow for scattering on private land (of course, with permission if it’s land you don’t own). In addition, many state and national parks also allow for scattering ashes as long as you get permission beforehand. And, golf courses and other outdoor areas commonly give the green light to scattering if asked in advance. Sporting venues are typically off limits (however, a historically popular option!).
Below we’ve highlighted some of the more popular places to scatter ashes:
- At Home: Many people love the idea of having their ashes scattered in the yard or garden at home. This gives them a sense of being close to family and friends after passing and gives family members the opportunity to memorialize their loved one at a convenient location.
- At a Park: Parks are beautiful and give people a sense of peace and tranquility. Many local, state, and national parks allow for scattering ashes as long as you ask for permission first. This can be at that favorite hiking spot, place a loved one used to play as a child, or a place for family vacations.
- Water: Scattering ashes of a loved one in water is an option that’s growing in popularity. Many people love the idea of being scattered at a beautiful spot in the ocean or lake. In addition, a burial at sea is a common option chosen by sailors and people who served in the US Navy or US Coast Guard. Just make sure you perform the scattering in water at least three nautical miles from shore to comply with U.S. federal law.
- Cremation Gardens: With the surge in the popularity of cremation, many cemeteries and memorial parks now have areas designated as cremation gardens. These are typically beautifully landscaped and can include trees, fountains, flowers, plants, etc. This can be a great option for families and a place they can visit and reflect on a loved one.
- Church: Similar to cemeteries, churches are also starting to offer areas where families can scatter ashes of a loved one. This is a special option as a church is typically nearby where the family lives and gives family and friends the ability to easily pay their respects and reflect on a loved one who passed.
- Golf Course: For the golf enthusiast, this can be a great opportunity to be at your favorite hole! While some golf courses are open to this, others are not. It’s highly advised to check beforehand and see if it’s a possibility at the course you’re thinking of scattering at.
- By Air: Most states do not have laws related to scattering ashes from an airplane and federal law only prohibits dropping objects from an airplane that can cause harm to people or property (so cremated ashes are fine - only be sure not to drop the urn or container you’re scattering from). There are many services throughout the country who offer aerial scattering of ashes and prices can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
What Can I Use to Scatter Ashes?
There are many containers and urns you can use to scatter ashes of a loved one. Families sometimes use a container found around the home, or a temporary urn provided by the funeral home or crematory. There are also many new scattering urn options now available that give people the ability to scatter with ease and reduce the risk of blow-back (which is when the ashes are blown back on you during scattering). Below we’ve highlighted a few of the more popular (and affordable) options!
The Eco Scattering Urn has become a very popular option among families and funeral homes. This unique scattering urn is made from bamboo, a sustainable resource, that can be disposed of in nature when finished. Its unique cylindrical shape lets you scatter away from your body (avoiding blow back). In addition, the unique open and close mechanism on top of the Eco Scattering Urn gives you the ability to scatter with ease and control and also helps secure the ashes during transport. It comes in four sizes, giving families the ability to select the right size for their needs. Also, starting at $49, it’s an affordable option. There are other similarly priced scattering urn options on the market, however, these are made from cardboard and don’t provide the same durability and functionality as the Eco Scattering Urn.
If you plan on scattering your loved one’s ashes in water, the Eco Water Urn is something that should be considered. This patent pending biodegradable urn is made from recycled plant materials and floats like a buoy, then gracefully disperses the ashes out of the bottom of the urn. It comes packaged in a unique bamboo case, perfect to secure the water urn holding the ashes during transport to that special location to scatter. Offered at $129, the Eco Water Urn is an affordable option for most families.
Another option to scatter ashes in water is the ice urn. This unique urn is made only from ice and provides for a beautiful send off to a loved one as it gracefully scatters their ashes in a water.
Can I Divide Ashes?
Dividing a loved one’s ashes into multiple memorials or among multiple family members is fairly common. Families can scatter some at a special place, keep some in the home, and/or do another memorial with part of the ashes. In addition, many times children or siblings of the person who passed receive a portion of the ashes to do their own special memorial.