Tips for Scattering Ashes


By Emma Castleberry

If you or a loved one has chosen to be cremated, you will also need to decide what to do with the ashes. While many families choose to keep the ashes of a loved one in an urn, others choose to have their ashes scattered or buried in one or more places. This practice can offer peace, solace and closure for surviving family members while memorializing the deceased, but it’s also important to respect and understand the rules and regulations associated with scattering ashes.

First Question: Where?

The choice of where to scatter a person’s ashes is an important one. Some people who have chosen to be cremated will state explicitly where they would like their ashes to end up, but others might not have been so clear. Often, the remaining family members will choose a place or places that were special to the person. This can take time and multiple discussions before a decision is made.

This is complicated by the fact that you can choose to spread a person’s ashes in more than one place. Ashes, or cremains, can weigh between three and seven pounds. The cremains themselves can be scattered once in their entirety or split among several places or occasions.

Tips for Scattering Ashes

The rules and regulations for scattering ashes are nearly nonexistent. Most government agencies turn a blind eye to this practice, as is it generally harmless: human cremains are mostly just organic minerals. That said, here are a few guidelines.

Scattering at Sea

Boats or planes must be three nautical miles from shore before any ashes can be scattered in an ocean or sea. The EPA qualifies scattering ashes on the sea as “burial at sea.” This practice is only allowed for human remains, not that of pets. Additionally, you’ll need to notify the EPA within thirty days after the scattering.

Keep It Private

If you’re choosing to scatter on public land, you’ll want to keep the ceremony private. Try to stay 100 yards off trails and other public areas. If you’re planning to scatter ashes in a park or another public place, do a little research to see if you need a permit.

Be Prepared

A few things to note: cremains don’t look like fireplace ashes. They are more gravel-like, whiter, and often include shards of bone. Be prepared for this when you open the container. Furthermore, ashes will stick to your skin. If you choose to scatter the ashes with your hand, bring something along for post-scattering clean up.

The scattering of ashes is often a memorial ceremony for most people and it can be structured any way you choose. You can bring friends and family or go by yourself. You can take photos or simply enjoy the moment. Find your own way of saying goodbye and allow this process to bring you closure.

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Detroit, MI
(East of Mound Road)

Direct Line: 313-893-1880
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Hutchison Funeral Home

6051 East Seven Mile Road,

Detroit, MI 48234

Phone. 313-893-1880