Scattering a loved one’s ashes is a highly personal thing. Not only is this an opportunity to say your final goodbyes, but it also allows you to honor their memory with their final resting place.
Yet, it’s not as simple as choosing a specific spot to scatter your loved one’s ashes and hosting a memorial there. There are many local and state laws governing how and where ashes can be scattered, so you’ll want to do some prior research.
Though you might think one place is a great fit (like the families who scatter ashes at Disney World), you’ll need to ensure it’s legal and safe to do so. In addition, you want a location that’s meaningful to you and the deceased. In this guide, we’ll share some of the most meaningful places you can scatter a loved one’s ashes.
Tip: If you're planning to scatter a loved one's ashes, decide whether you want to put some of the remains aside, first. You might decide to display an urn at home. You may even want to turn your loved one's ashes into a real diamond with Eterneva or cremation stones with Parting Stone.
1. The Beach
As you might expect, the beach is likely the most common place people go to scatter their loved one’s ashes. This is a common vacation spot, so it’s home to many happy memories. Most importantly, however, beaches symbolize freedom, passion, and eternal love.
Most beaches qualify as public property, making them a legal place to scatter ashes. They also are spread out, ensuring families can have a private moment to themselves during this process. Some choose to host a large memorial to scatter the ashes, while others keep it an intimate, private occasion.
While scattering ashes at the beach is by far the most common option, it’s far from an overdone cliche.
2. At Sea
Similar to the beach, many choose to release their family member’s ashes at sea. This is usually done from a boat or ship, and this is one of the easiest options.
Because the ocean is free from most local laws, this is a safe, legal place to release the ashes. There are even specific runs designed to slowly scatter ashes throughout the sea for a short period of time, allowing for a memorial or ceremony.
Like the beach, the sea carries a lot of symbolic meaning. It’s vast and endless, perfect for an adventurous spirit who loved to wander. This allows for the family to take quiet, reflective moments amongst the waves.
3. Local or National Park
For nature lovers, nothing could be a greater tribute than laying the ashes to rest at a local or national park. While it’s important to remember that each park has its own rules, they regularly grant permission to families to scatter cremated remains within these grounds.
Whether your loved one was drawn to the mountains or the plains, there’s a stretch of nature to honor their memory. While ashes typically can’t be buried in these lands, scattering the ashes to the wind is a great source of peace. These parks are always beautiful, but scattering ashes in a National Park or state park adds even more significance.
4. Private Property
If your family owns land that holds a special place in your loved one’s heart, private property could be a great place for scattering ashes. This could be a family home, family campsite, garden, farm, etc.
While you should check with local laws, you’re typically permitted to release ashes on private property with the owner’s permission. This is a highly personal option, and it’s a common choice for its ease and simplicity. Whether your loved one had a favorite garden in their backyard or they loved their parent’s home in the wilderness, this honors their life even in death.
For the individual who always wanted to go out with a bang, release your loved one into the sky with fireworks. There are specific firework companies that will create custom fireworks to make a special tribute in the sky.
Again, you might need special permission, depending on the type of firework release. This truly is a way to go out in style, no matter the time of year.
6. Outer Space
An option that’s out of this world is to have the remains blasted into outer space. This might not be a traditional choice, but it sure is a gorgeous tribute to someone who spent their life gazing at the stars.
There are specific companies that will release ashes into space, and a lot of people have already taken advantage of this option to spend eternity in space. While space burial (or space cremation) is less common, it’s certainly increasing in popularity as more people look beyond this world for their final resting place.
7. Wildflowers in a Meadow
A lot of families find comfort in returning their loved ones to nature. It’s possible to mix ashes with seeds for your favorite wildflowers and plant these into the ground. Over time, they’ll grow into a gorgeous symbol of life and growth.
Better yet, families can choose the colored flower that has meaning to them. For example, white flowers are a sign of innocence, and red is for eternal love. This is a touching, lasting tribute.
8. Sky Scattering
Other than launching the ashes into space, the family can also scatter the ashes from above. This can be done from a helicopter, plane, hot air balloon, or even a drone.
Not only does this provide a unique perspective as the ashes scatter to earth, but it allows the ashes to naturally carry themselves a great distance. For those that venture to great heights to scatter their loved one’s ashes, it’s an inspiring reminder of how exciting life can be.
9. Vacation Destination
If your loved one had a favorite vacation destination, this is a great place for scattering his or her ashes. This is a symbol of their legacy, and it’s perfect for exploring those shared memories of the deceased amongst loved ones.
As a family or alone, travel with the ashes to your loved one’s favorite vacation spot. Hold a small memorial or simply release the ashes while reflecting on their memory.
10. Somewhere They Wanted to Go
On the flip side, honor your loved one’s memory and wishes by scattering their ashes somewhere they always wanted to go. Life is fleeting. We don’t always have the chance to accomplish everything on our bucket lists. By visiting these places on our loved one’s behalf, we’re reminded of just what legacy means.
If your loved one always wanted to visit Italy, take a trip yourself when the opportunity presents itself. It’s possible to secure the cremated remains for travel, so don’t be afraid to go the distance to make their wish come true even after death.
How to Choose Where to Scatter Ashes
There is no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” choice when deciding where to scatter your loved one’s ashes. As long as you’re aware of the legal rules about this process in your area, you’re free to choose something that has meaning to you.
When making your decision, consider these things below:
- Local laws: First, review any local laws to ensure you won’t run into issues when you go to scatter the ashes. Seeing the ashes and scattering laws explained is the best way to ensure you don’t cross any accidental boundaries.
- Ceremony: Do you plan to have a memorial service or scattering ceremony? If so, you’ll need a space that can accommodate this.
- Budget: While it’s true that a cremation costs significantly less than a burial, you’ll still need to consider your budget. Most scattering ceremonies are free or low-cost, but you might need to budget for travel, local fees, and other costs. There are luckily many inexpensive things to do with ashes to suit any budget.
- Multiple locations: If you’re struggling to choose a single location, you could always divide the ashes for multiple scattering ceremonies. This is common amongst larger families. Funerals and ash scattering ceremonies are mostly for the living. Feel free to trust your gut when choosing the place to scatter the ashes.
- Personal wishes: Lastly, are there any final wishes your loved one would like honored? Consider what they enjoyed, their favorite places, and how they’d like to be remembered.
Like a funeral, scattering your loved one’s ashes is an opportunity to say goodbye and honor their memory. Like a burial, the remains return to earth and symbolize the circle of life. This can bring a lot of peace and comfort in a time of grief, no matter the location you choose.
Honor Your Loved One
Losing a loved one is always hard. The decisions you make after their death regarding their cremated remains can help honor their legacy and ease the pain of their passing.
We don’t always ask our loved ones what places matter to them most during their time on earth. Asking these questions is not only a great chance to learn more about them, but it simplifies this process for the family later.
Luckily, there’s no such thing as a wrong choice. When you’re searching for the place to scatter your loved one’s ashes, consider what this process means to you. As long as you’re honoring their legacy, they’re at peace.