Scattering Ashes

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What is “wildcat scattering”?

Wildcat scattering is the practice of scattering a loved one’s ashes widely, in different locations, and at different times. The scattering locations are planned in a purposeful manner, and scattering is often done without permission. Other people besides the next of kin sometimes become involved in helping with scattering portions of the ashes at faraway locations.

The scattering locations are often chosen for their significance to the deceased and/or to the surviving relative. For example, a husband might want to honor his wife’s love for travel by scattering a small bit of her ashes at her favorite vacation places. Wildcat scattering is growing in popularity because of the increase in the overall cremation rate, and also is an indicator of Americans’ growing desire to personalize their grief and memorialization rituals.

What are some creative ways to scatter the ashes of a loved one?

Creative scattering options include aerial scattering, scattering at sea, sending up ashes via hot air
balloon, and incorporating ashes into fireworks displays. “Wildcat scattering,” or the practice of scattering cremated remains widely, is also growing in popularity.

Do you need permission to scatter ashes on a public beach?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not permit the scattering of ashes on public beaches or in tidal pools.

Do you need permission to scatter ashes in a public park?

If you want to scatter the ashes in a park, you will need to contact the municipality and find out if they require a permit.

Are there any benefits in paying for a scattering service to disperse my loved one’s ashes, instead of doing the scattering myself?

If you contract with a scattering service, you may have greater flexibility in choosing the time, location, and method of scattering. For example, you may choose to have the ashes scattered by air in a beautiful, yet remote location that would not be otherwise accessible. The scattering service also has control over scheduling, and can keep the ashes stored securely until the optimal time for scattering.

What is a scattering garden?

A scattering garden is a plot of land set aside for scattering the cremated remains of humans or pets. The scattering garden is usually owned by a cemetery or crematory. Along with the scattering garden, the facility may offer memorial options, for example, a memorial plaque, wall, or piece of art on which the names are inscribed, or a living memorial such as a tree with a plaque. Some scattering gardens maintain a “Book of Remembrance,” for their patrons. The Book of Remembrance is a type of elaborately decorated register containing the names of the people whose ashes have been scattered in the garden.

What kind of container will the funeral home provide if you tell them you intend to scatter the ashes?

The funeral home will return the ashes to you in some type of temporary container, or temporary cremation urn. This type of container is designed to hold the ashes securely but is not necessarily intended for permanent storage of the ashes. It is most commonly made of plastic, rectangular in shape, and has a hinged lid that can be opened to access the ashes. The ashes may be stored inside a closed plastic bag inside the temporary cremation urn.

Can you scatter ashes in a National Park?

It is generally permitted to scatter ashes in national parks within the United States, provided it is done according to park guidelines and regulations, which may vary from one park to another. If you are interested in scattering ashes in a particular park, contact the park superintendent’s office or visit the park website for more information.

Is scattering at sea provided as a free burial benefit for veterans?

This ceremony is provided by the US Navy for a deceased veteran from any branch of the armed forces. The scattering ceremony itself is provided by the US Navy at no cost to the family. The Person Authorized to Direct Disposition (usually a family member) will be responsible for expenses associated with cremating the deceased and shipping the remains to the desired point of embarkation. Additional information is available at

Is there a cost involved in scattering ashes in the ocean?

If you hire the services of a charter boat or a flying service to help facilitate scattering of the ashes, the company will charge you a fee for their services. The cost may vary from one provider to another, so you may want to check with several companies to compare prices.

On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to know someone who has a private boat or airplane, you can take the boat or plane and scatter the ashes yourself.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) requires that any scattering be done at least 3 nautical miles out from shore. They also require that you submit a report of any at-sea burials within 30 days of the event taking place.

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