Ideas for Scattering the of Ashes of a Loved One
After a cremation the decision about the scattering of ashes can sometimes be quite difficult, but there is no hurry. Below are some traditional and some more creative ideas.
Where to scatter the ashes is a dilemma which is often overlooked at first. There is the shock of the death, then the funeral planning and service to survive. All is done in a mist of shocked disbelief. It’s an unreal experience as if you’re detached from yourself and looking on as a bystander.
Then, a couple of days after the service you receive a phone call to say that your beloved's ashes are ready to be collected. This happens at a time when you are still expecting your loved one to walk in the door and you can’t really come to terms that they’re not there.
In my case, half an hour after the phone call there was a knock at the door and our undertaker had 'kindly' brought the casket round to the house. Luckily my son had arrived a few minutes beforehand as I found this experience one of the most disturbing of all of the pathways of grief we have to manoeuvre.
To be handed what looks like a tin safety box and know that your
vibrant, hard-working loved one is reduced to a few ashes, which you are
now holding, is surreal, totally unbelievable. The undertaker lady left
almost immediately and my son and I stared at each other unable to
We had a hug and a weep, then I said he’d want to be in
his precious workshop on the shelf by his lathe. That is where he stayed until I moved house.
One friend was horrified that I still
have my husband’s casket at home several years on, especially as a
friend of hers had had a relative’s casket stolen in a robbery. My
husband had a great sense of humour. He would find it very funny that
his ashes might be pinched.
But it is a serious responsibility
and a duty that gives families much thought. What would the loved one
have wanted? Many people leave instructions as to where they would like
their ashes to be scattered.
Ideas for Scattering the Ashes
- Many churches have created small areas in the grounds where parishioners who attended the church can have their ashes buried. Small plaques can also be allowed here. Families can get together and a special remembrance service can be held.
- Another option is the scattering of ashes on the parents' graves. That often gives comfort.
- Crematoriums also provide areas where ashes can be left and plaques chosen. Many families love being able to go to these areas and leave flowers. Services for families can be arranged too.
- Lots of families scatter ashes in the loved ones favourite park or beach or in a garden.
- Planting a rose or a memorial tree in the garden and putting the ashes underneath is a comfort for many families. Or put the urn in the favourite part of the garden. It is good to scatter ashes in the loved one's favourite places.
- Some people have a special bench at a favourite spot and scatter the ashes around it.
- Many people are flown back overseas to their country of birth and then scattered near their parents' graves or homes.
Consider a plaque to mark the spot where your loved one's ashes are scattered
A friend's 90-year-old mother died recently and they had a small family gathering a month later when her ashes were taken to the crematorium. There you can get a memorial plaque
attached to the spot. She’s not far from her husband’s plaque. So the family can visit both of them and leave flowers whenever they want.
We have so few family members that to me it wouldn’t be right for my loved one to be in that sort of place, but for many it is the most appropriate.
More Creative Ideas for Scattering of Ashes:
- You can have your loved one's ashes launched into space by satellite.
- Ashes can be made into diamonds or glass jewellery.
- And there are also companies who will incorporate your beloved's ashes into a celebratory and memorable fireworks display.
Whatever you choose, you do not have to rush this decision. It is not uncommon to find urns of ashes years after death at the back of Aunty’s wardrobe or even ashes still in a vase on the mantelpiece. Scattering of ashes can be a final act of acceptance along these long pathways of grief. It is letting go of the final contact with the loved one.
ARE YOU A BEREAVED MOTHER OR FATHER?
We are two bereaved parents who have teamed up with researchers at Yeshiva University and Memorial Sloan Kettering to study how the death of a child impacts parents’ lives, and the resulting ripple effects as life continues without our children. We invite you to participate in a survey which will help us develop resources to better support parents experiencing the heartbreak of child loss.
For mothers or fathers who have lost a child (or children) of any age, and would like to make a contribution to our understanding of bereaved parenthood, this is a way to make a difference.
If you would like to participate in our study, please fill out this confidential survey at https://yeshiva.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cUXcBDFIiWAg6Ng It will take about 20 minutes.
For more details, you can contact the Principal Investigator:
Kailey Roberts, PhD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University.
Thank you for your consideration --
Judith Kottick, LCSW and Jean Singer, PhD
IRB Approved at the Study Level, May 10, 2021. #30499052.0
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