Practical tips for scattering cremated remains

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Scattering cremated remains can be a special time of farewell, but it is best to be prepared for certain practical aspects of the process, and to help other family members learn what to expect.

Take some time to review this information ahead of time with everyone who will be in attendance. Each person’s comfort level may vary. Some may want to participate, while others may prefer to wait at a distance.

1. Select an urn made specifically for scattering. Typically these have a small opening that allows for the remains to be scattered in a slow, controlled manner. Some scattering urns can be engraved with your loved one’s name and special design to serve as a keepsake. Your funeral director will fill the urn with the cremated remains.

2. Be sure to ask permission ahead of time. There are restrictions on scattering on private or commercial property, and while it is permissible to scatter remains in the ocean when certain regulations are followed, other waterways do not allow this.  Many national parks allow scattering with a permit and permission from the park administration.  It is best to get permission first, rather than risk an embarrassing encounter.

3.  If you need to travel to the scattering spot, you can carry the cremated remains onto an airplane in a carry-on bag or in checked luggage.  You may need to bring along a copy of the death certificate or other paperwork.  Please check with your airline for their policy. If you choose to ship the remains to the scattering site, you must use the Priority Mail Express service of the U.S. Postal Service. UPS and FedEx will not transport cremated remains.

4. Find a sheltered area away from the wind, hold the urn low to the ground and pour out a small amount at a time. Cremated remains are very lightweight and will blow freely in even the slightest breeze. It is best to do this low to the ground so they do not blow back onto you or other onlookers.

5. The cremated remains will be a light gray powder, and include some larger fragments. Typically, there will be 3-5 pounds of remains, which will be plenty for several family members or friends to take turns scattering, if they wish.

6. Loose flowers laid at the site of the scattering can be a lovely touch.  

7. Bring wet wipes to clean your hands and shoes afterwards. There will be some residue left behind.

8. Since scattering is truly a final goodbye, consider asking a family member to speak a few words, or lead a prayer before or after the scattering takes place.

We hope that this information helps you understand what to expect from a scattering ceremony. Please call us if you have any questions; we are here to help.

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