The death of a loved one is difficult time, and if you are the next of kin you may be left with many difficult decisions regarding the deceased. Sometimes the departed leave their family with instructions for their funeral and what to do with their body after death. In many cultures, cremation is the cultural norm. Cremation in the United States is becoming more and more common. When the body is cremated, the family may be left with instructions about what to do with the ashes.
If you choose to scatter your loved one's ashes, there are some things you should know before you do the deed:
The ashes may not look like ashes you are used to seeing
When you open up the urn, you may be in for a surprise. The remains will not look like the fine, powdery ashes left over after burning wood. Instead, the remains will be far coarser. Some compare the ashes to aquarium gravel or cement mix. The pieces are not as fine as ashes we are used to seeing. Instead, they are larger and you may even see bone mixed in.
There are rules about where and how you can scatter ashes.
Even if it was your loved one's dying wish to be scattered in a certain place, you may not be able to pull it off. Be sure to check local laws about scattering ashes. Some jurisdictions are very relaxed, while others have stricter rules in place. A permit may be required if it is allowed. In general, there are a few different situations you will likely run into:
- Private Property—Permission must be granted from the owners of the property before scattering on private property.
- Public Areas—You should plan to scatter ashes at least 100 yards away from public roads or trails. In other words, stay off the beaten path.
- Ocean—If you are scattering ashes, there is no depth requirement in the ocean. However, you must be at least 3 nautical miles away from land. There is also a form that you will need to fill out and send to the Environmental Protection Agency that includes such information as name of the deceased and the location the ashes were scattered. It is also acceptable to release flowers that are biodegradable along with the ashes.
Be prepared to come in contact with the ashes
Be cautious when scattering the ashes. Your goal is to memorialize your loved one, not to have uncomfortable contact with their remains. Watch how you are standing when you release them. If you release them into the wind, they could blow back at you and end up in your eyes or mouth. If you actually touch the ashes to scatter them, they will likely stick to your hands. There are special urns or tubes that you can use to avoid having to come in contact with the ashes.
To learn more, contact a company like Ahlgrim & Sons Funeral And Cremation Services Ltd.