What to do with ashes after a cremation
Scattering the ashes after a cremation can be a tribute to a loved one's life. But, it can be hard to know what to do with ashes after a cremation at such an emotional time. You might have lots of questions such as 'where can I scatter ashes?', 'who has ownership of the ashes?' and 'what else can I do with them?'. Read more for some inspiration on where to scatter ashes and learn about the laws surrounding this.
Scattering ashes laws & regulations
The law states that ashes can be scattered in most places, with the consent of the landowner. So, of course, you may do this on your own land, although you should consider how long the garden or land will be in the family’s possession for visiting purposes. Should the cemetery allow it, you can also scatter or bury the ashes on a family member’s grave. You may also scatter ashes at sea or in a river with no issues – as long as they are inside a biodegradable urn, or if they are just scattered straight into the water. Some areas of the UK have environmental restrictions in place, so if you're scattering ashes on public land, check with the local authority first.
Ownership of ashes
UK law dictates that no one has complete 'ownership of ashes' in that no one person has the right to own a human being or their remains. However, there are clear rules on who they are given to after a cremation.
The 'Applicant', the person that signs the paperwork authorising the cremation to proceed (this is usually the Funeral Executor or next of kin) takes possession of the ashes and responsibility for choosing if and where to scatter them.
To avoid family disputes, it is sensible to share your wishes or write clear instructions for your remains in your Will.
What to do with ashes
There are a few main ways ashes are used after a loved one dies. People may choose to:
- scatter ashes
- keep ashes
- bury ashes
- use the ashes in jewellery or keepsakes
- plant ashes with trees
Where can I scatter ashes?
You may wish to scatter the ashes in a local park or a beauty spot that the deceased loved. You will need to check with the council as human ashes contain phosphate, which can have a detrimental effect on the local wildlife and environment. You may also find that busy areas do not allow you the privacy to say goodbye to your loved one in the way you might have liked. If you would prefer no one to be around, then you should pick a particularly quiet spot, or perhaps choose a time of day when it is less busy.
Unfortunately, royal parks, some sports grounds and some historical sites such as The Shakespeare Trust explicitly state that they do not allow the scattering of ashes for this reason. Football grounds have varying policies on this. Read more on the rules on scattering ashes at football clubs.
Simplicity can organise a special resting place for your loved one at one of our crematoria if you wish, marked with a memorial stone, which you can visit at any time.
Ideas for scattering ashes
Ideally, you will want to find somewhere you can create your own ceremony that can openly allow your loved one’s life to be celebrated by family and friends. For many people, it will be a peaceful place and a quiet moment, and somewhere you can revisit.
There are plenty of beautiful rural spots in the countryside that could be perfect for saying goodbye. Be aware that at the tops of mountains, the wind may disrupt the direction of where the ashes blow away.
If the deceased loved a particular beach, or perhaps a holiday location where the sea was close by, then the sea in this area could be a sentimental place for you to scatter the ashes. There are no laws around this in the UK, but you should do so at a distance from anyone who is using the beach or water close by. If you're travelling abroad to scatter ashes, you should check the rules around scattering ashes in that country before you travel.
Scattering ashes after a direct cremation
You may have chosen a direct cremation for a loved one who has passed away so that you could create your own memorial service for them with the ashes afterwards. A cremation without a funeral service beforehand allows you and your family to have your own simple funeral, perhaps in a place that is personal to you.
People wanting to have their ashes scattered in a personal place is becoming an increasingly preferred option for people in the UK. A direct cremation with a memorial is a low cost alternative to a traditional funeral that leaves families with the choice of how they say goodbye. Making plans for when you pass away? Learn about our funeral plans. Alternatively, contact us to find out how Simplicity can help.