If you are choosing cremation, it’s also prudent to decide what to do with your ashes so your family isn’t faced with a difficult decision when they are grieving.
Deciding where to scatter your ashes can be difficult. There’s an overwhelming list of choices, and the best thing you can do is educate yourself about what is available.
This list of ten popular options for scattering ashes may help you come to a resolution more quickly and easily.
1) In the ocean. Since we live in California, it’s only natural to at least consider scattering ashes in the Pacific Ocean. Many people migrate to the west coast so they can be in the water year round; having the ocean be their final resting place can be incredibly meaningful. And California is not going to stop you from carrying out this request – the state allows cremated remains to be spread in the ocean as long as they are at least 500 feet from the shore.
2) In the mountains. Just as we have vast amounts of water, we also have beautiful mountains in our state, and in nearby states as well. Perhaps your family loved to hike on the weekends and camp out under the stars. If the mountains were your home away from home, they might be a good choice. Just be sure to get permission if necessary – for example, if you want to scatter ashes at a state park, you’ll need to speak to the chief park ranger first.
3) In the air. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will permit you to scatter ashes from a plane as long as it poses no danger to any property or people. If you think you want to spread ashes from a plane, just be extremely careful – the blowback could cause everything you send out a window to come right back in (likely right in your face.)
4) In space. There is a company that offers “memorial spaceflights” for those who want to send cremated remains to space. You can choose to have them orbit either Earth or the moon, or launch them into deep space.
5) In the garden. Say you had a grandmother who was very fond of her gorgeous garden. It would be a meaningful tribute to give her back to the earth that she loved to tend. Some businesses will also mix cremated ashes with soil and use them to grow a plant or a tree, so you can remember a life by giving life to something new.
6) At a favorite vacation spot. You may have a favorite place (or several places) where you feel happiest. Your family can take a trip and scatter your ashes at the destination. If you loved more than one city or country, your family can scatter a bit in each spot.
7) In glass keepsakes. If you want to memorialize your ashes but don’t want your ashes to be spread outside, consider having your remains made into glass keepsakes. Glass blowers can add cremated remains, which are heated up and turn a lovely sparkling white color, to glass and shape the glass into sculptures, paperweights, or jewelry pendants. If several of your family members would like a memento, you can have a keepsake made for each of them.
8) In a balloon. An alternative to scattering in the air, pouring remains into a helium balloon allows you to release ashes into the air without having to worry about blowback or harming property. What’s more, you can visually track a large, brightly-colored balloon in the sky easier than a bagful of dark-colored ash.
9) In a painting. Like a glass keepsake, you could have cremated ashes mixed into paints, which are then used to paint a beautiful portrait of you. This approach really personalizes the portrait since you become part of the image your family can keep.
10) In the forest. Our state is home to breathtaking forests of redwoods, different oaks, and Douglas firs. Instead of merely scattering ashes at the base of a random tree, you can choose to have your ashes spread around a tree reserved for you, your spouse and your children in one of our protected spreading forests.
A spreading forest is an area of protected land that allows families to purchase memorial trees where they can scatter ashes. Whole families can choose a tree or a section of trees, or individuals can select their own tree.
Once you select a tree, it’s yours, and your family can come to visit anytime. Because it belongs to you, no one else will have their ashes scattered there, so it will be your own special place.
Your family members can be spread around your tree and your visitors will get to be surrounded by the natural beauty of the forest while celebrating your life.
Written by Brad Milne
Co-founder & COO of Better Place Forests