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Scattering Ashes: 6 Common Questions Answered

An increasing number of Australians are choosing cremation when planning their own or their loved one’s end-of-life arrangements. Representing a more affordable, eco-friendly and flexible choice, cremation also offers the flexibility of choice on what to do with a loved one's ashes. In this article, we explore the different ways to scatter a loved one's cremated remains as a part of a meaningful cremation process.

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Why do people scatter ashes?

For some, the scattering of ashes is a more personal way of saying goodbye to someone, and celebrating a loved one's life.

Once the deceased has been cremated, the opportunity to scatter ashes in a place of significance can bring an immense sense of people to families; forming an integral part of the grieving process.

This article will explore the different ways someone can scatter ashes and other important factors to consider during this process.

What are the different ways you can scatter cremation ashes?

After your loved one has been cremated, you’re able to take your time in deciding when and where you’d like to hold a scattering service. Whilst you decide, the cremated remains can be safely held in a cremation casket- giving you the flexibility and time to choose how to scatter the ashes, as well as how to integrate this into a meaningful memorial service on a timescale appropriate to you.

1. Casting ashes into the wind

To scatter ashes in this way, you should place the ashes into a metal container, or scattering tube, to keep them secure beforehand. It's worth keeping in mind factors such as whether it's a windy day when scattering ashes in this way.

Once you’re at your meaningful spot, tap the cremated ashes from the tube into your hand and gently cast the ashes into the wind blowing away from you. The ability to scatter close to home or in a meaningful place, such as a special park, can be an important way to personalise the cremation process.

2. Trenching cremated remains in the sand

At your chosen beach, dig a shallow trench in the sand and pour the ashes into it. The hole should be deep enough to safely cover the ashes with a layer of sand. Let the tide wash over the ashes as you say your farewell.

Trenching ashes in this way, can be a better option for a windy day or if wind direction is blowing towards you. Similarly, it can also be a more peaceful, controlled way to scatter human ashes if you are concerned about visibly seeing the cremated remains.

3. Ringing ashes around a tree

Spread the ashes into a ring around a tree or bush. Once you’ve scattered the ashes, stand around the circle with your family and friends. This creates a moment where anyone in the circle can speak up and say a few words about your loved one.

Whether in a memorial park or a special park to you, cremation memorial services can be held at this specific location. Gathering family members in a similar way to a burial plot, to mark the place where the cremated remains of your loved one are laid to rest.

4. Spreading ashes across a garden

In your own backyard, scattering gardens or the backyard of a family member, you may choose to create a garden feature to spread the ashes.

For some, keeping the ashes close by can bring comfort in knowing that your loved one is always near. Keep in mind, if you do ever decide to move, the ashes will remain settled in the garden. You might choose to plant a flower or tree as a reminder of the person you have lost.

5. Scattering ashes into the ocean

Securing the ashes in a scattering tube, travel to a beach that means a lot to you. You may choose to scatter the ashes from a boat, jetty or lookout. Alternatively, you can keep the ashes in a water soluble urn that will gradually release the ashes into the sea.

Scattering cremated remains into the sea can be a peaceful way to make that scattering ceremony personal to your loved one- creating a sense of peace from their return to nature. It's also unlikely you will need permission to scatter cremated remains into the sea.

Can you split cremation ashes?

There are many families who choose to divide the ashes between family members- with each receiving a small portion to choose a specific scattering location personal to their relationship with the family member, or cremation urn to hold the ashes.

Others may prefer to scatter the ashes together. But crucially, how one person chooses to say goodbye when a person dies will be different from another.

Cremation, and the associated opportunity to scatter cremated ashes in different ways, enables a more flexible and personal final farewell. With scattering ashes standing as just one way the cremation process can make a memorial service unique to each person who has experienced the loss.

Is it legal to scatter human ashes in Australia?

Scattering ashes is legal, but in certain circumstances and locations, you may need permission to scatter human ashes.

Whether this is due to health hazard concerns, government authorities regulations or the fact it's on public property- it's always best to check with an experienced funeral director, local councils or other government authorities before scattering ashes for your loved one.

Looking at the government website for your jurisdiction can be a good place to start for checking the legalities of your scattering plans.

Scattering cremated remains on private land

If you wish to dig a small trench or hold a scattering ceremony on private property, you should obtain permission from the property owner before you scatter. To avoid any legal issues or family upsets, it’s encouraged that you gain permission in written form.

Private properties may include:

  • Homes

  • Farms

  • Holiday resorts

  • Gardens

In some instances, you may need to get in touch with the council to clarify if the area you choose to scatter the ashes is considered private property.

While it’s legal to scatter ashes in Australia on public land, each state and territory has its own regulations. To help guide you for the requirements in your particular area, refer to the information below:

Can you mail ashes?

It’s possible to send ashes in the mail, but some shipping companies have internal policies against mailing ashes. It’s best to refer to the internal guidelines and advice from a funeral director- as posting human remains can come at the discretion of each individual company.

If you’re wanting to send ashes overseas, you’ll need to find out more about the destination country’s regulations by contacting an embassy or consulate in Australia.

Are there any health hazards from scattering ashes?

You are safe to handle ashes if the cremation has been undertaken by a professional. The cremation process is performed at extremely high temperatures to make sure there’s no potential contamination.

How long do human ashes last?

Cremated can last for a very long time safely stored in an urn. This means you and your family will be able to keep your loved one’s ashes for as long as you want after the cremation, before or if you decide to scatter them.

This can relieve pressure at an already difficult time, and allow you to carry on your grieving process after the cremation, without any more big decisions for a while. You can even take your time in choosing a cemetery, sealed container or perfect place to scatter ashes before going ahead.

Once you’ve scattered the cremated ashes at your chosen spot, they will settle and become one with their surroundings.

To Wrap Up

Aside from the fact that a cremation represents a more affordable way to deal with the human body of a loved one after their death, it also maintains the respect of a traditional burial and offers heightened flexibility on making the cremation process meaningful to you.

The various options of scattering ashes represent a focal point of this flexibility. From where, when and how you choose to have ashes scattered- this process is less rigid and fixed than with a burial plot.

Safewill can help you

Our compassionate team of experts at Safewill Cremations can support you in planning a meaningful, and affordable, cremation.

They provide a personal, flexible and eco-friendly way to say goodbye to your loved one. Offering constant support at your time of need, and sorting everything from the big logistics to the small details.

Reach out any hour of the day, and any day of the week on1300 730 639, or via livechat now.

Last updated 01st June 2022
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Lauren Barrientos
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