Deciding whether you want the service to end with a burial or a cremation is one of the most important considerations when planning a funeral. And, if you have chosen a cremation, the next decision is: what will happen to the ashes?
Following the service, the actual cremation takes place within 24 hours and the ashes are placed in a clearly identified container and returned to you. It’s possible to talk to your funeral director about updating this temporary container to a permanent urn if you so wish. In addition, your funeral director can collect the ashes on your behalf.
You might decide to keep the ashes, but if you choose to scatter them there are a number of methods and locations to consider – we outline a few below.
Keeping it conventional
Your funeral director can arrange for the ashes to be scattered or buried in the crematorium’s garden of remembrance. This means the ashes will either be scattered under a tree or bush, or placed in a sealed compartment in the garden wall that is marked with a plaque.
If you want to scatter the ashes elsewhere, think about how you would like to commemorate the occasion. You might want to invite a small group of relatives and close friends to join you and prepare a few words in tribute to the person.
The garden of the family home is a popular choice, alternatively, you might have had an outdoor location in mind that was of particular importance to the deceased. Maybe an area they loved to walk in, a secluded place with a spectacular view, or a location where they have enjoyed happy holidays. However, if you intend to scatter the ashes on privately owned land, it’s important to seek the permission of the landowner.
Some public parks and nature reserves ask people not to scatter ashes, but do offer other ways of memorialising a loved one. For example, a tree planted in their honour or a bench where you can sit and remember them. In addition, some football clubs will allow people to scatter a supporter’s ashes at their grounds, but it’s essential that you check first with the stadium you have in mind.
On a practical note – there is nothing explicit in the UK’s legislation that restricts people from scattering ashes, but always use your discretion and try to choose a quiet place to minimise the possibility of upsetting people passing by and that’s sheltered from the wind.
Alternative ways to scatter ashes
Do you want to scatter ashes at sea? Rather than cast them directly into the water, there are two options that can provide a more poignant send off. For example, a water-soluble urn will float for a few minutes before slowly sinking where it will naturally degrade and, in doing so, scatter the ashes. Or you could dig a shallow hole on the shoreline and pour in the ashes. Cover them with sand, if you wish, and as the tide comes in, the ashes will be swept out to sea.
Another means of burying ashes could be to use a biodegradable urn. Made from a coconut shell, it’s filled with the crematorium ashes, compacted peat and the seeds of a tree of your picking. Once planted, the seeds will germinate and over the years a beautiful tree will grow as a lasting tribute to your loved one.
For some more ‘out of this world’ options, there are companies that can incorporate ashes into fireworks enabling people to say goodbye at a sparkling display, and even launch ashes into space.
Whatever you decide, scattering ashes can be a really special way to say goodbye to someone in your own time – you don’t have to do it immediately – and the place you choose can become a special spot to remember them forever.
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