2020 State Guide to Scattering Ashes - Massachusetts Edition

This nineteenth edition of state guides related to scattering ashes covers the state of Massachusetts. This beautiful state is home to many stunning state and national parks, an unmatched coastline, and the dynamic city of Boston!

Funeral homes in Massachusetts and surrounding states are asked frequent questions related to scattering a loved one or pet’s ashes. Some of the most common questions include whether or not it is permitted, where in Massachusetts a scattering can be done, and what is the best urn to use to scatter ashes? In this state guide we provide useful information that answers these questions and many others.

Scattering Ashes in Massachusetts: Rules & Regulations

scattering ashes in boston

Massachusetts law states that cremated ashes may be “deposited in a niche of a columbarium or a crypt of a mausoleum, buried or disposed of in any manner not contrary to law.” Certain cities and counties in Massachusetts may have local laws related to scattering ashes. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check to with city or county offices to see if there any regulations exist where you plan on scattering.

In general, if you wish to scatter ashes in Massachusetts, you have many options. Cremation makes it so the resulting ashes are harmless, so there is no public health risk involved in scattering ashes. Always use common sense and avoid scattering on trails or in public places around others.

Where to Scatter Ashes in Massachusetts?

Many people who want their ashes scattered will choose a location that has special meaning to them or their family, or another location outdoors. There are many places in Massachusetts to scatter a loved one’s ashes and below we describe some of the more popular ones.

  • Private Property – In many states, including Massachusetts, there are no laws that place restrictions on scattering ashes in your yard or on other property you own. However, if your plan is to scatter ashes on property owned by another person or a company, it’s a good idea to get their permission beforehand.
  • Scattering Gardens – Many churches, memorial parks, and cemeteries in Massachusetts have designated areas that give families the ability to scatter (these are commonly referred to as ‘scattering gardens’). With more and more people choosing cremation, a growing number of organizations now have scattering gardens on their property. If you’re interested in scattering ashes in a scattering garden, a simple internet search can usually provide one or more options in your area.
  • Public Land – Massachusetts is home to some of the country’s most stunning sights. As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to check with the local city or county government offices where you plan on scattering to find out if there are any restrictions in place.
  • Federal Land – Massachusetts is home to 15 of our amazing National Parks, which are some of the most beautiful places in the state! Many National Parks allow ashes to be scattered there a as long as you follow their rules and get permission first. Since every National Park has their own unique set of rules and regulations, it’s a good idea to call or visit the park ranger’s office where you plan on scattering a loved one’s ashes to find out if and how you may be able to scatter there.
  • In the Atlantic – With Massachusetts long and beautiful coastline, scattering ashes at sea is a popular choice of many in the state. There are many different boating services that provide this service throughout Massachusetts - a simple online search can typically find one or more options at a port near you! A couple things to point out before scattering at sea – 1)  federal law requires that a sea scattering is done at least three nautical miles from the coast; and 2) the EPA must be notified within 30 days of doing a scattering at sea.
  • From the Sky – In Massachusetts, and almost all other states, there are no state-wide laws that restrict scattering ashes from an airplane. Cremation makes it so the resulting ashes are harmless and there are no problems scattering them from the sky. Yet, it’s important to point out that federal aviation law prohibits dropping any items from the sky that could cause harm to people or property – so make sure the scattering urn or other container used to scatter is held on to and not dropped with the ashes.

How Can You Scatter Ashes in Massachusetts?

With the significant increase in the amount of people choosing cremation over burial in Massachusetts and many other states, a number of new urns and memorial options have recently been introduced, including ones designed to scatter.

Below we highlight some of the most popular urns for scattering offered by funeral homes and crematoriums in Massachusetts and other states throughout the country.

Scattering Urns

Two of the most popular urns for scattering ashes are the Eco Scattering Urn, made entirely from bamboo, and scattering urns manufactured from paper. Both of these options are TSA approved and are available online and at leading funeral homes throughout Massachusetts.

Eco Scattering Urn

The Eco Scattering Urn is made entirely from bamboo, a fast growing sustainable resource. This patented urn has a long tube-like shape which helps people scatter a loved one’s ashes away from their body and also helps prevent having the ashes blow back on them. It comes with a proprietary open and close locking mechanism on top of the urn, which lets you securely transport the ashes in the urn to a special place or multiple locations to scatter and helps people scatter with control and ease.

Paper Scattering Urns

Scattering urns manufactured from paper come in multiple sizes with different images printed on the outside. Like the Eco Scattering Urn, these also have a long cylinder shape to help people scatter ashes away from their body. While typically a lower cost option to other urns, scattering urns made from paper do have some limitations – it is not recommended to use them in a weather event and they are not designed to scatter at multiple locations.

Urns for Water Burials

With its long Atlantic coastline, water burials are quite common in Massachusetts. Below we highlight a few of the more popular urns used in water burials.

Eco Water Urn

The new Eco Water Urn was introduced last year and has quickly become a leading choice of funeral homes in Massachusetts and nationwide. This patent pending biodegradable urn floats upright like a buoy for a short period of time before the bottom begins to dissolve and the ashes are gracefully spread in the water. It comes packaged in an attractive bamboo case – a great way to safely travel with the urn holding a loved one’s ashes to a special place on the water to scatter.

Flow, the Ice Urn

Another great new option for water burials is Flow, the Ice Urn. This highly unique patented urn was developed by a leading designer and funeral group in Montreal and has received multiple prestigious design awards in Europe. It is made entirely of ice and floats gracefully on top of the water until it melts and the ashes contained in the urn are freed. Flow, the Ice Urn is now available in select markets throughout the U.S.

More than One Memorial?

As more and more people continue to choose cremation over burial (mainly due to lower cremation costs and families being less traditional), new and unique urns and memorial options that include ashes continue to become available. With so many new uplifting options, many families are finding it to be a challenge to have a single memorial for their loved one and are choosing to divide up their ashes into multiple memorials. This can include scattering a portion of the ashes at a beautiful place, then using the remaining ashes to do a living memorial with a tree urn, be included in jewelry or a stone, or infused into a glass decoration, among many other options.