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What Are My Options for Scattering?

May 1, 2019

Scattering has become a popular method of final disposition for a person who has been cremated yet many families are unaware of the options and the restrictions presented by scattering. The cremation experts at Keohane can help guide you in creating a meaningful and personalized scattering ceremony that is right for you, your family, the environment and the community.

Photo credit: Jeanette Brown/

Following funeral services and cremation, families must decide which method of final disposition will be best suited for them.  Grief experts explain that it is very important to establish a permanent memorial to help family and friends deal with loss, and this is an important consideration for those that choose to scatter.  While families may prefer a scattering garden, a beautifully landscaped area in a cemetery, which provides a resting place for those who wish to be cremated but allows for the deceased name to be permanently inscribed as a memorial, some families appreciate scattering ceremonies held in nature or a favorite location. Scattering ceremonies can be conducted at any place that is meaningful, as long as local regulations permit and are most often carried out on land, on water and in the air.

Scattering on Land

When scattering someone on land, it is important to note that scattering is not allowed everywhere. While Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium and Walt Disney World may hold significant meaning to families, scattering is prohibited in these and most other similar venues. Most cemeteries and golf courses also have prohibitions or restrictions on scattering. While one may, of course, scatter a person on his or her own land, scattering on another’s property is only allowed with permission.

On private property, it is best to get permission from the landowner. In a city or municipality, consult local ordinances and regulations. On public lands, most controlled lands such as city parks have rules and regulations and may require permits. Try to stay at least 100 yards from walkways, paths and public roads as a courtesy to others. Many open areas require the urn or container that holds the person to be disposed of separately unless the urn or container is biodegradable.

Scattering on Water

Scattering on the water either in the ocean or in fresh water may be another option. This too may have its own set of regulations. State agencies regulate scattering on fresh water ponds and lakes while the Environment Protection Agency governs ocean scattering. In fact, the EPA requires that a person be scattered at least three nautical miles from land. If the urn or other container is metal, stone, or plastic and will not easily decompose, you must dispose of it separately. The EPA does not permit scattering at beaches or in wading pools by the sea.

Scattering from the Air

While some people may be familiar with scattering ceremonies that occur on private airplanes, there are other creative and unusual methods for scattering someone from the air. A memorial spaceflight on a rocket ship or scattering from a hot-air balloon are not unusual to see. One may even be incorporated into fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July.  Literally, the sky is the limit!

Choosing a Urn or Keepsake Memorial

Choosing the right urn for scattering is also important. Biodegradable urns and scattering urns make it easy and simple to scatter on land while water-soluble urns are a good choice for scattering at sea. There is even a biodegradable urn designed to grow a tree on top of your loved one.

Because scattering is permanent, some families decide to divide the person into portions so that they may have both a permanent memorial in a cemetery and scattering in another location. In addition, some families also choose to retain a small portion as a keepsake and place them in jewelry, keepsake urns, or integrated into artwork.   

Cremation is All About Options

Unlike casketed burial, cremation offers many different options for honoring and memorializing a family member. Experts agree that the funeral ceremony is critically important to the healing process yet families may choose from many different types of ceremonies. Most families choose open casket visitation and a funeral ceremony prior to cremation, many families choose cremation followed by visitation and a ceremony and some families choose various other combinations of these and other options that they feel is best for them. Those who choose cremation as a method of disposition have almost unlimited options for creating unique and personalized services to honor the memory of their loved one. Our funeral directors are cremation experts who are committed to helping you find the most effective solutions for your needs.

If you have questions and concerns about cremation or scattering, the cremation experts at Keohane can help. Please call us at 1-800-KEOHANE to find out which of the many options available are right for your family.


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