You can scatter ashes by casting them into the wind from a scattering tube. Other options include creating a colourful garden feature or scattering the ashes at the beach and letting the tide wash them away.
Scattering ashes is something you may only do once or twice in your life, so it’s worth doing a little bit of research beforehand. Here, we’ll look at a few different ways you can scatter your loved one’s ashes after a cremation, and we’ll also give you some tips to help make sure you get it right.
How to scatter ashes
Scattering ashes can be a really meaningful way to say goodbye – and there are lots of different ways to do it. Here are some of the most popular options:
1. Cast them into the wind
Start by carefully decanting the ashes into a scattering tube. It’s best to do this in advance so you don’t have to worry about it on the day.
To cast the ashes, make sure the wind is flowing away from your family and friends, then hold the tube at waist height and start scattering.
2. Let the tide wash them away
Dig a shallow hole on the beach when the tide is out, then pour the ashes into it and cover over with sand. As the tide comes in, the waves will wash over the ashes and carry them out to sea.
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3. Create a garden feature
Scatter the ashes over some soil in your garden and use a rake to spread them evenly. You can then place a tree or flowering plant in this spot as a colourful reminder of the person you’ve lost.
4. Raise a toast
Fill some small toasting glasses with the ashes and hand them out to family and friends. Each person can then share a short story or memory of your loved one before scattering their glass of ashes across the ground or into the wind.
5. Make a circle on the ground
Scatter the ashes into a circle in your garden or a local park, then ask friends and family members to step into the circle and say a few words about your loved one. You can then rake the ashes to spread them out across the earth.
Tubes for scattering ashes
If you’re planning on casting your loved one’s ashes into the wind, the first thing you’ll need is a scattering tube. These are available in a variety of styles and sizes, but they’re really just a way to give you more control when scattering the ashes.
The cost of scattering tubes can range from £15 up to around £30, depending on the size and style you choose. Or, if you’d prefer to go for something a little more natural and understated, you could find a simple tube in your local craft store for under £10.
Who can scatter the ashes?
Ashes can be scattered by anyone, as long as they have consent from the executor of the will. It’s the executor’s responsibility to make sure the person who died is laid to rest – and this should be done following their wishes if they left any.
If the person who died didn’t leave a will, it’s their next of kin’s responsibility to make sure they’re laid to rest.
If you’re scattering the ashes as part of a memorial service, you could give each guest a small amount of the ashes to scatter. This can help to make everyone feel more involved in the service, and it also gives everyone the chance to say a few words if they wish.
What to say while scattering ashes
If you’re scattering your loved one’s ashes with other friends and family members, you may want to say a few words. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but here are a few things you may want to include:
A bit of background about the person who died and the kind of life they lived
A story or memory that means a lot to you – maybe something you’ll always remember about them
Similar stories from other close friends and family members
One of your loved one’s favourite songs or readings
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Other things to think about while scattering ashes
As well saying a few words, here are some other things you may want to consider when scattering your loved one’s ashes:
Take some photos When you scatter someone’s ashes, it’s usually all over very quickly, so it’s worth asking someone to take some photos to capture the moment.
Stand upwind Check which way the wind is blowing to make sure the ashes flow away from you and your loved ones.
Hold the ashes at waist height By holding the ashes at waist height and scattering them gradually, you can be sure that they won’t blow towards your face if the wind suddenly changes direction.
Save some of the ashes You don’t have to scatter all the ashes at once – you could scatter them in various locations or keep a small amount in an urn at home.
Get permission from the landowner If you’re thinking of scattering the ashes in a public place, you’ll need to contact the landowner to get permission first. You can find out more about where you can scatter ashes.
Can you touch human ashes?
Human ashes can get stuck to your skin quite easily, so it’s best to avoid touching them as much as possible. If you need to pour the ashes into a scattering tube or urn, it’s worth wearing gloves and using a spoon to scoop them out.
How long do cremated ashes last?
In theory, cremated ashes can last forever. Some funeral homes have ashes from the 19th Century that are still in their urns, and archeologists have been known to discover ashes that are thousands of years old.
Alternatives to scattering ashes
If you’d prefer not to scatter your loved one’s ashes, you could keep them at home in an urn – or multiple urns for different family members.
Another option is to have the ashes placed or buried at your local cemetery, churchyard or woodland burial ground. This is known as getting the ashes “interred”.
This can be a good option if you have a family grave where other relatives are already buried, or if you simply like the idea of having a site that you can revisit to pay your respects.
Other ways to memorialise the person you love
1. Get creative
Write a poem or create a piece of art to fill the walls with amazing memories of your loved one.
2. Create a trinket box
Collate memories, photos and keepsakes that remind you of your loved one and ask your family and friends to contribute
3. Get a plaque made
Memorialise your loved one by having a plaque engraved in a place that they loved spending time in. This could be on a bench overlooking their favourite view.
4. Create a personal keepsake
Hold onto your loved one forever by having their ashes embedded into a piece of jewellery or other special possessions.
5. Let their memory live on in music
Choose your loved ones favourite track and get their ashes pressed into a vinyl record. Get your family together and compile a list of tracks that most remind you of them.
You can scatter ashes by casting them into the wind using a scattering tube. Other options include creating a garden feature or letting the ashes wash them away.
If you want to say a few words before scattering the ashes, you could give a brief history of the person who died and share some of the things you’ll remember most about them.
Hold the scattering tube at waist height before scattering the ashes, and make sure your friends and family are standing upwind.
The moment can be over quickly, so you may want someone to take a few photos for you to look back on.
If you don’t like the idea of scattering the ashes, you could place them in an urn and keep them at home – or you could even get them interred at your local cemetery.
Where can you scatter ashes in the UK?