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Your Guide To Planning An Ashes Scattering

Hosting or planning an ashes scattering ceremony is a wonderful way to remember someone who chose a cremation. It allows for loved one’s to reflect and remember while scattering the ashes in a meaningful place. 


Beginning to plan an ashes scattering can seem a little daunting. You may think: where do I even start? Am I allowed to scatter ashes anywhere in the UK? 


Our complete guide will hopefully answer your questions regarding how to plan an ashes scattering ceremony. You’ll find everything you need to know about ashes scattering right here. 


How to Plan an Ashes Scattering in the UK


You may have heard of different countries having laws regarding what to do with a loved one’s ashes. In the UK there are hardly any laws regarding this, but you will still need to double check as laws and regulations may change (especially with the Environmental Agency).


Step 1 – Think About A Meaningful Place to Scatter

Scattering a loved one’s ashes in a place that meant a lot to them is the first step in preparing for an ashes scattering. Take some time to think about your loved one and what they would have wanted (if they haven’t already communicated this to you). 


Try looking through photos or videos to get hints of the kinds of activities they enjoyed doing, if you cannot think of anything on the spot. Write some of your ideas down so you don’t loose track of your thoughts. 


Step 2 – Research the Laws and Regulations

Once you have an idea or location in mind, ensure you have a grip on the laws and regulations surrounding ashes scatterings. In the UK, you do not need to apply for any permits. As long as you have permission of the landowner, it is okay to scatter the ashes pretty much anywhere. 


You can find more details on scattering ashes in Scotland here


If you plan on taking ashes abroad, you will need to ensure you have the cremation certificate and the death certificate. In terms of the ashes, they will need to be enclosed in a container, ready to travel. 


If you need assistance with taking ashes abroad, then reach out to a member of our Care Team, and they will be there to help you. 


Step 3 – Check the Weather and Plan a Scattering Date 

Typical of UK weather, it can be hard to predict. If you plan to conduct an ashes scattering outside on the water or in a park it can be difficult if you don’t know what weather to expect. From our experience helping families across the UK, we have found that hosting a scattering in the summer months makes the weather more likely to be warm and sunny. However, when you decide to host an ashes scattering is completely up to you and your availability. 


If you plan to conduct a sea scattering, checking the tides and weather on the Met Office website is a helpful starting point.


Try adding an indoor aspect to your ashes scattering like going to the pub or cafe beforehand or meeting in someone’s home. This allows you to find refuge somewhere before or after the scattering if the weather is bad. You can even wait indoors for the weather to pass and then continue with the ashes scattering. This helps break the scattering up in stages which could be useful if you have invited many people to witness the scattering. 


Step 4 – Let Family and Friends Know About the Ashes Scattering

In the midst of planning, take a moment to remind your friends and family of the event. Perhaps create a digital invitation or send out a heartfelt email explaining the location and why it was significant to your loved one. Writing everything down and informing the friends and family of your loved one can help with grieving and handling the loss of your loved one. 


Additional tip: If you want, inform your funeral director of your plans. They may be able to provide some insight or some ideas to the ashes scattering. At Neo, we can help design the invitations or assist in letting friends and family know about the event. 


Step 5 – Don’t Forget to Take Photos and Videos

When people get in the moment, taking photos and videos usually get forgotten. Before the scattering, if you would like someone to take photos or videos, inform them ahead of time. That way you have additional memories of the last act of goodbye with your loved one. 


Again, whether or not you decide to document the ashes scattering is completely up to you. Sit down and think about this aspect alone or with a friend, it may bring you some clarity on what to do.


What Are Some Ashes Scattering Ideas?

If you’re still stuck for ideas, we’ve added a few here for you: 


  • In your family garden, scattered on top of the soil 
  • At water’s edge (meaning along the beach of a body of water)
  • In the sea or water itself
  • In a park 
  • In a Scottish Loch or flowing burn 
  • On top of a Munro


Where Should I Scatter My Loved One’s Ashes? 

You may be unsure of what to do for your loved one’s ashes. Sometimes it can be difficult to think of where to even begin. 


Did your loved one have a favourite place? Were they a fan of nature and parks? Did they like to take long walks? These are only a few elements to start thinking about when deciding on a place to scatter ashes. More ideas include: 


  • Their favourite part of the country i.e. perhaps they really enjoyed the Scottish Highlands or a gorgeous Scottish Loch (like Loch Lomond).
  • Near or around their favourite type of plant, flower, or tree. 


Frequently Asked Questions 

We’ve also included below some of the most frequently asked questions regarding scattering ashes and how to do it. 


Where is the best place to have your ashes scattered? 

There is no right or wrong place to have ashes scattering. We have helped organise countless scatterings and have seen and heard of ashes being scattered in places like: 


  • The family backyard
  • Near their loved one’s favourite tree
  • At the water’s edge in Southend-on-sea
  • Along the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland
  • Around a loved walking trail 


A common theme for an ashes scattering ceremony is nature.  


Can ashes be scattered in the sea and if so, how? 

Yes, ashes are able to be scattered in the sea. We advise the best way to scatter ashes at the sea is by either doing an “at water’s edge” scattering or by scattering off of a pier or boat. Make sure the wind is blowing away from you and your family / friends. Take the ashes scattering tube and cast them into the wind. 


For an “at water’s edge” scattering, dig a hole in the sand. This can either be a hole or maybe a heart or your loved one’s favorite number. The key is to do this close to the tide. Then hold the ashes at waist height and begin scattering into the hole. The tide will then wash the ashes away.


Can ashes be scattered in different places? 

This is actually quite common. Families, especially ones that are dispersed across the country, tend to divide and split the ashes amongst themselves. 


How do I store the ashes?

Before the ashes scatter, you may want to store the ashes safely. Most urns provided by the crematorium will be suitable for storing up until the scattering. If you are unsure about the crematorium urn, you can ask them a few questions to clear any up any uncertainties: 


  1. What container do the ashes come in? 
  2. Is the top difficult to remove? 
  3. Do I need to open or handle a plastic bag before scattering?


You may also consult your funeral director to see what else you need to know about the urn and storage before the scattering takes place. 


Remember that only the funeral director or the individual who has signed the application for cremation paperwork may collect ashes from the crematorium. 


We Are Here to Help 

Remember that you are not alone throughout any of this. If you need additional guidance or help regarding planning an ashes scattering, someone from our Care Team will be there to help guide you.

Jenn Ulloa

Digital Operations Analyst

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