For those who have a loved one that chose cremation as part of their final wishes, a spreading ashes ceremony is often a memorable way to say final goodbyes. You can spread them in a wilderness area, bury them under a tree, or take them out to sea. As long as you follow the scattering ashes laws, there really isn’t a “wrong” way to spread ashes and memorialize your loved one.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Catholic Prayers for Spreading Ashes
- Protestant Prayers for Spreading Ashes
- Jewish Prayers for Scattering Ashes
- Hindu Prayers for Scattering Ashes
- Buddhist Prayers for Scattering Ashes
- Native American Prayers for Scattering Ashes
- Muslim Prayers for Scattering Ashes
- Sikh Prayers for Scattering Ashes
Many people aren’t sure what to say when scattering ashes. Some choose to give a small speech and others provide an opportunity to share memories. Others decide to say a prayer.
If prayer was an important part of the life of your loved one, this could be a fitting tribute to their memory. Learn more with our list of prayers for spreading ashes.
Catholic Prayers for Spreading Ashes
If you belong to a Catholic family or you want to honor a Catholic loved one, you can offer several prayers during a scattering ceremony.
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1. “Entrusted to You” from Catholicism
This is a beautiful prayer that affirms trust in God and the reality that your loved one is in a better place. While the full prayer is quite long, if you’re looking for just a line or two, consider the following excerpt:
“Welcome them into paradise, where there will be no sorrow, no weeping or pain, but fullness of peace and joy with your son and the holy spirit forever and ever.”
2. “Eternal Rest” from Catholicism
“Give her eternal rest, O Lord, and may your light shine on her forever.”
This is a simple prayer that can be spoken by an individual or recited together with those in attendance.
3. “Forgiveness” from Catholicism
If you’re uncertain as to whether your loved one had last rites performed or simply want to offer prayer on their behalf and ask for forgiveness, this prayer is perfect.
“All-powerful and merciful God… blot out the sins they committed through human weakness. In this world, they have died. Let them live with you forever.”
Protestant Prayers for Spreading Ashes
Prayers offered for Protestant family members are slightly different. Here are several options for those in need of a Protestant prayer.
4. “Present with God” from Christianity
“Father, we are so thankful that Jane is with you. She is walking the streets of heaven in perfect peace. Please comfort our hearts as we feel sorrow over our loss of her presence.”
Pray this when you know your loved one is in heaven and to acknowledge the sorrow of those in attendance.
5. “Passing Shadow” from Christianity
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me.” — Psalm 23:4
Even though death is a sobering time, there is hope beyond the grave for many Christians.
6. “Absent from Earth” from Christianity
“Absent from the body, present with the Lord.”
This is a fitting reminder that, though they may no longer be with us, your loved one is in a better place.
Jewish Prayers for Scattering Ashes
While many Jewish families do not believe in cremation, there are certain circumstances when cremation is permitted. In addition, within the Reformed Judaism movement, the choice to cremate is permissible.
Here are several prayers to use for your Jewish loved one, many of which are also used at a funeral.
7. “El Maleh Rachamim” from Judaism
This is a prayer for the soul of a departed loved one. Here is a brief excerpt:
“God, full of mercy… provide a sure rest upon the divine presence’s wings… to the soul of [name] son of [name].”
8. “Psalm 23” from Judaism
The lines of this poem are a promise of rest and peace for the one who has passed away.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall abide in the house of the Lord forever.”
9. “Psalm 91” from Judaism
This is a poem that brings comfort and hope.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
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Hindu Prayers for Scattering Ashes
Hindus have a strict set of rules and rituals for performing a cremation and scattering ceremony. These prayers are a regular part.
10. “Chant” from Hindu
This is a traditional chant. When performing the scattering of ashes, Hindu families chant, “Naarayana... Naarayana... Naarayana.”
11. “Scripture” from Hindu Texts
This is something you can pray as if you are speaking to the person who passed away.
“Let your eye go to the sun; your life to the wind; by the meritorious acts that you have done, go to heaven, and then [for rebirth] to the earth again; or, resort to the waters, if you feel at home there; remain in the herbs with the bodies you propose to take.” — Rig-Veda X, 16,3
12. “Great God” from Hinduism
This is a text inspired by passages in the Bhagavad Gita that helps mourners place their focus on God.
“The sun is your eye during the day, and the moon your eye at night. The wind is your breath, and the fertile brown earth is your heart. By your power, all things are created, and by your power, they are destroyed. Birth and death are in your hands. I tremble with awe and wonder when I contemplate your power.”
Buddhist Prayers for Scattering Ashes
Buddhism has several prayers for the dead and dying. You can choose to say the entire prayer or take portions of wording to form the most appropriate saying for your ceremony when using scattering urns.
13. “Prayer for Death and Dying” from Tibetan Buddhism
Though there is more to this beautiful prayer, here are a few lines you can quote:
“Through your blessing, grace, and guidance, through the power of the light that streams from you: May all my negative karma, destructive emotions, obscurations, and blockages be purified and removed... And through the triumph of my death, may I be able to benefit all other beings, living or dead.”
14. “Om Mani” from Buddhism
“Om mani padme hum.”
This is a mantra you can recite to bring comfort and peace.
15. “Refuge and Bodhisattva” from Buddhism
This is a vow you can recite that will put your mind on the truth of eternity.
“In the Buddha, Dharma and Supreme Sangha,
I take refuge until attaining enlightenment.
Through the merit of generosity and other practices,
May I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of beings.”
Native American Prayers for Scattering Ashes
Many Native American tribes have prayers, poetry, and sayings from respected chiefs that can be recited when scattering ashes.
16. “Live Well” from Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee
“Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.”
17. “Like a Hero” from Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee
“When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes, they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
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18. “What is Life?” from Chief Crowfoot, Siksika First Nation
“What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
Muslim Prayers for Scattering Ashes
Islam has many prayers that mourners can recite for their loved ones. Here are several.
19. “Supplication for the Deceased” from Islam
“O Allah, forgive and have mercy upon him, excuse him and pardon him, and make honorable his reception. Expand his entry, and cleanse him with water, snow, and ice, and purify him of sin as a white robe is purified of filth. Exchange his home for a better home, and his family for a better family, and his spouse for a better spouse. Admit him into the garden, protect him from the punishment of the grave and the torment of the fire.”
20. “Prayer for Deceased” from Islam
‘O Allah, [name] is under your care and protection so protect him from the trial of the grave and torment of the fire. Indeed, you are faithful and truthful.
Forgive and have mercy upon him, surely you are the oft-forgiving, the most merciful.’
21. “Prayer for Allah’s Servant” from Islam
“O Allah, your servant and the son of your maidservant is in need of your mercy and you are without need of his punishment. If he was righteous, then increase his reward and if he was wicked, then look over his sins.”
Sikh Prayers for Scattering Ashes
Sikhs offer both prayers and hymns during funerals and both are appropriate for a scattering ceremony.
22. “Peace Hymn” from Sikhism
“In life and in death, peace resides with those who attain their guru.”
This focuses those in attendance on the peace their loved one is experiencing.
23. “Final Peace” from Sikhism
“My light merges with the Supreme light, and my labors are over.”
This is a great reminder that peace comes in death.
24. “Immersion” from Sikhism
“Like droplets of water are in an ocean wave and the ripples of a stream, I am immersed in the Lord.”
This reminds those in attendance that, according to Sikh beliefs, the dead become one with God.
Other Ways to Save Ashes
Most families don't scatter all of their loved one's ashes. While a small selection might be scattered somewhere special, it's normal to save some of the ashes for remembrance.
What can you do with these ashes? Here are some ideas:
- Memorial diamond: A memorial diamond is a unique process that transforms human or pet ashes into a gorgeous diamond. Eterneva specializes in making custom diamonds in honor of loved ones.
- Memorial stones: Another unique way to create something beautiful with ashes is with cremation stones. Parting Stone can transform all of your loved one's ashes into multiple river rock-type stones that you can display or place wherever you'd like.
- Traditional urn: A traditional urn is a vase or container that holds someone's ashes in your home.
- Custom urn: If a traditional urn doesn't feel like the right fit for you, a custom urn from Foreverence might be a better match for your loved one's memory.
- Memorial jewelry: An alternative to a memorial diamond is memorial jewelry which usually includes a vial or small container for securing ashes in a work of wearable art.
Honor Your Loved Ones
While there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to have a scattering ashes ceremony, you can’t go wrong by letting the beliefs of your loved one guide your decisions. Choose prayers and sayings they would have appreciated to show them honor, love, and respect.
- “Prayers for Death and Dying.” Bereavement and Funerals, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, October 2020. usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/bereavement-and-funerals/prayers-for-death-and-dying.
- Coles, Gregory. “A Funeral Prayer.” Prayer, Crosswalk, 8 February 2018. crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/a-funeral-prayer.html.
- “Kel Malech Rachamim.” Prayers, Shiva.com, October 2020. shiva.com/learning-center/prayers/kel-maleh-rachamim.
- “Funeral Ceremony Guidance.” Association of United Hindu and Jain Temples, HACSI Publication, 2004. hindutemplemd.org/docs/UHJT%20Guidance%20for%20Funeral%20%20Ceremony%20May%201%202014.pdf.
- Sogyal Rinpoche. “The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying.” Harper Collins, New York, NY, 1994.
- Dilgo Khyentse. “Chenrezig – The Practice of Compassion.” Living and Dying in Peace, Bodhicharya, 2018.
- Welker, Glen. “Chief Tecumseh.” Shawnee, Indigenous Peoples, 10 December, 2013. indigenouspeople.net/tecumseh.htm.
- “Crowfoot, Blackfoot Chief.” Oxford Essential Quotations, Oxford University Press, 2016. oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780191826719.001.0001/q-oro-ed4-00003388.
- ”Supplication for the Deceased at the Funeral Prayer.” Duas from Hinsul Mulim, AHadith, 2020. ahadith.co.uk/hisnulmuslim-dua-51.
- Khalsa, Sant Singh. “Sri Guru Granth Sahib.” English Translation Prayers. Sri Guru Granth, 2020. srigurugranth.org/0369.html.