For families who have chosen cremation for a loved one, the next decision involves what to do with the remains. Some choose to keep the cremated remains in their home, have them placed in a columbarium niche at a local cemetery, or scatter remains in a meaningful place.
Cremation provides families with more time to arrange where and how to scatter the remains. While there is no policing agency overseeing scattering, there are some basics you should know:
- If you plan on scattering remains on private property, you will most likely need to receive written permission from the owner.
- Public parks require that you obtain a scattering permit.
- There are no regulations regarding cremated remain scattering on uncontrolled public lands; you need to use your own judgment.
- You should not scatter remains within 100 yards of public roads or trails.
- The cremation container must be disposed of separately and in an environmentally-safe manner.
- Scattering remains in inland waters is governed by the Clean Water Act so it's important to obtain a permit from the agency that oversees waterways.
- Cremated remain scattering at sea must be done at a minimum of three nautical miles from the coastline.
- Any flowers or wreaths used in the remain scattering ceremony held at sea must decompose. No plastic flowers or other non-decomposable items should be left behind.
- For cremated remain scattering done at sea, the Environmental Protection Agency requires that you notify the regional office in writing within 30 days after the event.
If you are thinking about scattering a loved one's cremated remains, the information below will help you understand how to scatter ashes, where to scatter ashes, as well as support you in planning for a scattering ashes ceremony.