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Plan an Ash Scattering Ceremony

If you are thinking about scattering a loved one's cremated remains, the information below will help you understand how to scatter ashes, where to scatter ashes, as well as support you in planning for a scattering ashes ceremony.

Such a ceremony is commonly a private family occasion but it certainly doesn't have to be. Whether large or small, a scattering ceremony can be anything you want it to be. You can bring music into the event, read prayers, or simply take turns sharing memories of your loved one. When choosing to engage in ash scattering, you will want to purchase a scattering urn, designed to disperse the ashes easily. For your convenience, we offer a wide selection of scattering urns.

ash scattering ceremony grass

Why Have an Ash Scattering Ceremony?

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 Family's Choice Cremation, we believe that every family should plan for a cremation service that truly reflects and captures the life lived. In doing so, a memorable occasion is created that celebrates those who have passed away.

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 ash scattering 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 a scattering ceremony that is unique, personalized and thoughtful. Even if you are planning a simple ash scattering ceremony, it’s best to select someone who will lead it. This can be anyone who will be comfortable speaking in front of the group of people at the ceremony. If it is a religious ceremony, you may ask to have a member of your religious community like a priest or minister lead the ceremony.

Ceremony Simple Checklist

If you’re interested in planning an ash scattering ceremony, this helpful checklist will make sure you are prepared for every aspect of the service.

ash scattering ceremony

Select The Type Of Ceremony

The first part of planning a ceremony for scattering ashes is selecting which type of ceremony you would like to do. There are no requirements that determine what kind of ceremony you must hold. Select the option you feel will be most meaningful for your family.

ash scattering checklist


Decide Who Will Lead The Ceremony

The leader will be responsible for saying some words about the deceased, following the schedule, and introducing anyone who is actively participating (reading a poem, leading a song, saying a prayer, etc.).

how to plan an assh scattering ceremony

Plan The Schedule For The Day

Once you know who is going to lead the ceremony, you can begin planning the events. This is when you select people to participate and arrange the order of everything that will take place during the ceremony.

ash scattering ceremony

Prepare A Location

Find a special place to hold the ceremony and spread the ashes. Check to see if you need any special permits and let guests know how to get to the location and any special clothes they should wear.

scattering ashes


Decide Who Will Spread The Ashes

Some families select one individual to spread the ashes such as the leader of the ceremony or a child. Other families take turns, each spreading a little bit of the ashes.

how to scatter ashes checklist


Check The Urn And The Remains

Make sure you check the urn to make sure there will be no issues the day of the ceremony (lid stuck, container sealed). Also check the contents inside, over time the remains can become packed together.

scattering ashes checklist


Inform Attendees of the Schedule

Make sure you guests know what the schedule for the day is. This includes:

  • When to arrive
  • Location
  • What to expect during the ceremony
  • Plan for afterward
  • Anything they need to bring

ceremony for scattering ashes how to scatter ashes

Types of Ceremonies for Scattering Ashes

The common image most of us have of scattering ashes is one of a casting ceremony 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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
Sky Ceremony Involves the use of a private airplane and does not usually involve family members. 

A Final Note about Ash Scattering

Knowing where to scatter ashes is a very important part of planning a scattering ceremony. Unless you're going to scatter the ashes on your own land, you need to ask permission of the county or city in which you live. Or if you're hoping to hold your ash scattering ceremony on private land, the landowner needs to be consulted.