Scattering ashes is something that many families do after their loved one or pet is cremated. Based on the National Funeral Director’s Association (NFDA) 2019 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Survey, almost half of people who are cremated are scattered at a special place, and only less than ten percent are now kept in the home. In addition to the increasing amount of people scattering ashes, more people are also choosing to be cremated. According to studies by the NFDA, only 25% of Americans were cremated in 1999, jumping to over half in 2015, and this expected to surge to nearly 80% by 2040. This is being driven by a number of reasons, including that cremation costs much less than burial and many families are less traditional than they used to be.
Where can we scatter ashes?
People frequently ask funeral home staff if and where they can scatter a loved one's ashes. The answer to this is dependent upon where you plan to scatter. Most states, counties, and cities allow for scattering to take place on private land. Also, many state and national parks also permit ashes to be scattered if you receive their permission first. Sporting venues typically do not allow scattering (however, this has been a very popular option throughout history!).
Below we describe popular places where people scatter ashes:
- In the Yard at Home: Many families like the idea of keeping their loved one close and choose to scatter their ashes in the yard. This also makes for a convenient location to visit and reflect on a loved one.
- In the Water: Scattering in water (commonly referred to as a water burial) is becoming more and more popular. Many families choose to scatter their loved one at a beautiful location in an ocean or lake. This is also a common choice of sailors and people who served in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Coast Guard. Only be sure to do the scattering in the water three nautical miles or more from shore to be in compliance with United States law.
- At a Local or National Park: Some of the most beautiful places in the U.S. are our parks. Many local, state, and national parks allow you to scatter a loved one’s ashes if you get permission beforehand. This can include a favorite hiking trail, a special scenic spot, or a place they visited frequently.
- Memorial Parks and Gardens: Many memorial parks and cemeteries have areas reserved for scattering. These are commonly referred to as scattering gardens and can include trees, fountains, flowers, plants, and more. Scattering in a scattering garden is a great option chosen by many families and serves as a place they can visit and reflect on their loved one.
- Golf Course: For people who loved to golf, this can be a great option for their memorial. Not all courses allow ash scattering, so be sure to check first to get permission.
- At Church: Similar to memorial parks and cemeteries, many churches now provide designated outside areas where families can scatter ashes. This can be a great option as a church is typically nearby where you and many family and friends live – all can visit when they wish and pay their respects.
- By Air: Most states don’t have any laws prohibiting scattering ashes from an airplane. Federal law doesn’t prohibit scattering by air either, however, federal law does prohibit people from dropping objects from the air that can cause harm to people or damage property (therefore, ashes are fine to drop, but hold on to the urn or container used to transport and scatter). Many service providers exist throughout the U.S. who offer scattering services by plane - the cost of this ranges from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
What is the best way to scatter ashes?
There are many ways to scatter ashes of a loved one. You can use the temporary or standard urn given to you by the crematory or funeral home, or even use a container found around the home. In addition, there are many new and affordable scattering urns available that provide families with a beautiful urn and give you the ability to scatter with ease with less risk of blow-back (when the cremated ashes blow back on the person scattering).
Below we’ve highlighted a few of the more popular (and affordable) options!
Use a Scattering Urn
With the increase in the number of people choosing cremation and the amount of families scattering, there are some new beautiful scattering urn options that have been recently introduced. The Eco Scattering Urn is one of these options and has quickly become one of the most popular scattering urns chosen by families and funeral directors. This unique scattering urn is all-natural and made entirely from bamboo, a sustainable resource. The cylindrical shape of this urn gives you the ability to scatter away from your body (which helps you avoid having the ashes blow back on you). Also, the Eco Scattering Urn comes with a unique top that locks either in the open or closed position. This allows you to scatter with ease and control and provides you with the ability to secure the cremated ashes during transport. Starting at $49, the Eco Scattering Urn is an affordable option for most families.
Use a Water Urn
As mentioned above, many families are choosing to scatter their loved one’s ashes in water (often referred to as a water burial). If you plan on doing this, there are a few urns designed specifically for this purpose. One of the most popular options is the patent pending Eco Water Urn. This unique water burial urn is all-natural and biodegradable. It gracefully floats upright like a buoy and within a few minutes disperses the ashes out of the bottom of the urn. It comes packaged in an attractive cylinder bamboo casing – a great way to transfer the urn holding your loved one’s ashes to that special place. The Eco Water Urn costs $129 and can be ordered online or from a funeral home near you.
Dividing a Loved One’s Ashes
Many families will choose to divide ashes of a loved one into multiple memorials or to give to different family members. People can choose to scatter a portion at a place special to them, keep some of the ashes present in an urn at home, grow a tree memorial with some, or do another memorial with a portion of the ashes.