Scattering ashes, a guide to what's involved

When you’re considering options for the arrangements to be made after you die, one of the most important choices to make is whether you would prefer a burial or a cremation. It’s an entirely personal thing – and can be down to your religious beliefs or whatever your preference may be.

Cremation is generally the most cost-effective option and has grown in popularity to the point that the majority of people are now opting for cremation. According to the most recent figures, cremation currently accounts for around three-quarters of funerals in Britain every year.

Options for the ashes

With cremation there is of course another choice to be made – what to do with the ashes? A while back, we posted a blog looking at alternative ways of disposing of your ashes. These included some very imaginative ways of commemorating a loved one, including:

  • Specially-designed fireworks incorporating the ashes of the deceased
  • Ashes being launched into space
  • A biodegradable eco-urn that “turns you into a tree” after you die

Despite the increasingly inventive ways that have emerged for disposing of (or keeping) a loved one’s ashes, most people are likely to stick to a more conventional method – simply scattering the ashes.

Although scattering someone’s ashes is a fairly simple process, there are a number of things to bear in mind before you set out – so you can ensure everything happens smoothly on the day.

Carrying the ashes

The first thing that’s important to know about cremation ashes is that they can be a fair bit heavier than you might initially imagine. Obviously the weight varies depending on the weight of the deceased person – but you can expect them to weigh up to around 3 kilos for an adult male.

It’s also worth remembering that the urn containing the ashes will have some weight to it too – so if you are heading anywhere that involves walking or getting on and off public transport such as a train, then be aware that the ashes may be relatively heavy to carry.

Scattering the ashes

Often, the deceased will have stated their wish for the ashes to be scattered at a meaningful location – this could be a special country spot, in woodlands or hills or maybe even in the garden. People with a lifelong devotion to a football club may often request their ashes to be scattered at the stadium – but it’s important to check if the club accepts requests of this type, as each stadium will have its own rules around the scattering of ashes.

Rules about where ashes can be scattered tend to vary from place to place, but in general it's best to check with the owner of the land if you intend to scatter ashes on privately owned land. Some places - such as the Royal Parks, including Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens - don't allow the scattering of ashes, since the minerals that the ashes contain can affect the soil and the plants that grow there. Instead, they offer a number of options for memorialising a loved one that can also help the parks' conservation.

In terms of the practicalities of scattering ashes, it's best to apply a common-sense approach. Ensure that the chosen spot isn't busy - this will help avoid any distraction for those scattering the ashes as well as minimising the possibility of any distress to other people in the area. And if it's a windy day, be sure to have everyone placed upwind of the casting of the ashes to avoid anyone accidentally getting in the way of the scattering.

We hope you’ve found our article on scattering ashes informative. Visit our funeral plans page for more information on how to plan a funeral or you can request an information pack to read at your convenience.