The finality of scattering ashes can offer closure after a death.
And if it’s honouring someone’s wishes, then that very fact may bring solace to friends and family and offer a special place to visit and revisit in the days, months and years ahead.
See Evelyn’s blog entry on the Good Funeral Guide’s website about the scattering of Muriel’s ashes along with lovely Ruth Burgess poem: nice words to read at a scattering ceremony.
The act of casting remains back into the earth can provide a sense of completeness. It can often be an easier time to have a life celebration, maybe markeing the anniversary of a death.
Here, for once, no legal restrictions stand in our way, just simple guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency – pretty much common sense: avoid drinking-water supplies and windy days. You can scatter ashes almost anywhere but avoid rivers and places where people swim or fish.
You may prefer the occasion to be a solitary retreat, just close family or a gathering. You might select a favourite walk, a childhood haunt, romantic meeting place, the back garden, a community woodland. Whether from a mountain top, from the prow of a sailing yacht, or out the back, scattering ashes can be an emotional release and it can offer a private moment for quiet reflection as well as an opportunity for celebration.
Some of us long to return to the sea. Others might long to linger at a favourite spot in the woods. For the romantics you can have ashes made into memorials or keepsakes. And for the extroverts, you can have your ashes made into fireworks, diamonds, even an LP.
It used to be that ashes were stored in a simple box or urn. Now, there are many alternatives. There are lots of options on the market with craftspeople and designers offering beautiful alternatives to the more mass produced options. There are also scatter tubes that make the scattering process easier to manage.
A funeral director can store the ashes until you are ready to collect them. They will come with a certificate that you must provide to the keepers of a cemetery, grave, churchyard or garden of remembrance if you want the ashes buried.
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Are ashes harmful to plant life?
We’ve specifically asked this question in relation to a new biodegradable urn for ashes on Facebook and have been reliably informed that if they’re kept in the right proportion to other nutrients, they’re very good for root development. Let Your Love Grow say: “The pH level of cremated ash is high and no soil, including potting soil, will naturally correct the pH level.” They have a specially formulated mixture you can add to sustain plant life.
Can I be sure these are my ashes?
Some people worry about whether ashes can get mixed up. There’s a film here that shows the cremation process that should reassure.
A couple of our favourites aren’t on the market yet. One is called Poetree, by designer Margaux Ruyant: a tree planted over ashes. The cork base container holds the ashes. It comes with a tree that fits into the base and once planted, the cork disintegrates into the earth as the tree’s roots take. A ceramic rim sits on the earth with the dedication or memorial. Poetree in motion. The other is Tom at Alba Orbital’s genius idea to fire ashes into space. Watch this space (scuse the pun).