Spreading Ashes: How to Choose the Perfect Location for Your Loved One’s Cremated Remains

Ash scattering memorial

An ash scattering ceremony is a beautiful way to lay the departed to rest in a place that was special and meaningful to them.

Favorite beaches, parks, and hiking trails are popular choices for these events, as are ash scatterings at sea and even from the air. With so many options to choose from, how should you determine the best one for your loved one? In this article, we offer some guidance to assist you in this important decision.


Here are five ideas to consider and keep in mind that you can choose more than one:


At home

Your treasured family property can be a wonderful choice to scatter your loved one’s ashes. For many people, the homestead where they have lived for many years epitomizes comfort, familiarity, and beloved family.


A favorite vacation destination

Was there a vacation spot that you and your loved one frequented or particularly enjoyed? Consider scattering their ashes to symbolize the many cherished memories you shared there.


A scatter garden

Typically located at a cemetery or crematorium, scatter gardens provide a lovely, serene place for your loved one’s remains. These areas are designated specifically for the purpose of scattering cremated remains. Many facilities offer additional memorialization options, such as plaques or statues.


The location of a major life event

Many people choose to use the scattering ceremony as a way to honor an important milestone in their loved one’s life. This might be a college campus, a wedding venue, or another place where a meaningful event took place.


At sea

If your loved one enjoyed being out on the water, the ocean may be the perfect location for the ash scattering ceremony. In fact, many people who are fond of the ocean or specifically request that their ashes be spread at sea. Add a colorful touch to the event by scattering flower petals along with the ashes.


Conduct ample research ahead of time.

States and localities have their own laws on scattering, and in the case of scattering ashes over water, federal law may take precedence. As part of your planning process, be sure to check any regulations that may apply to your preferred location for the scattering ceremony. Here’s a shortlist for your reference:

  • Your property: It’s always permissible to scatter ashes on property that you own. However, if you sell the property later, you will end up leaving behind your loved one’s remains and you may need to disclose the presence of human remains to any potential buyers.
  • Private property: It may be acceptable for you to scatter ashes on someone else’s private property, but you must receive permission before you do so. This includes locations such as sports arenas, amusement parks, and the like. It’s best to get written or recorded permissions so you have proof.
  • Public land owned by the city, county, or state: Although public lands such as beaches and municipal golf courses are open to everyone to use, that use might not extend to scattering ashes. Contact the city, county, or state that owns the land to determine if a permit or other permission is required.
  • National parks: Most national parks do allow ash scattering but may require a permit. Check with a park ranger before scattering ashes.
  • The ocean: It’s legal to scatter ashes in the ocean, but there are regulations that you’ll need to follow. For example, you should be at least three nautical miles from any shoreline when you scatter and anything being scattered must be biodegradable.
  • Inland waterways: There are no hard-fast rules for ash scattering in lakes, rivers, and streams. It is permitted in some, forbidden in others, or a permit may be required. If you’re planning on scattering in an inland waterway, check with the local government and/or the state environmental protection agency to obtain any permission you may need.


The options are virtually endless when it comes to scattering locations for the ashes of a loved one.

If you have questions about cremation or need help selecting a suitable memorialization choice for the remains, please reach out to our caring team of professional funeral directors.

About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit www.ewsmithfs.com.

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