Choices And Considerations When Scattering The Ashes Of A Loved One

July 18, 2017 by Miller Funeral & Cremation Services Staff  


Losing someone is very painful, and keeping the cremated remains at home or in close proximity can offer comfort to those in mourning. Instead of storing them at home, however, (or burying them, as many people do), another common option is to scatter the ashes of your loved one in a special place. While scattering the ashes of a loved one can be meaningful and touching, this outdoor experience must involve careful preparation and permission from specific authorities before you proceed.


Air Travel

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) highly regards the rights of passengers traveling with cremated remains. In fact, they state that security screening will never result in the opening of a crematory container. Also:

  • Many airlines do not allow cremated remains in checked baggage.
  • If the container is in a carry-on bag and gives off an opaque image during screening, the container will not be permitted.
  • Before traveling on any domestic or international flight, check with your airline carrier to make sure you are following their specific guidelines.
  • Charter flights can be booked for scattering ashes over an area, provided a certain altitude is reached beforehand and there are no risks to areas below the site.


Land Considerations

To avoid fines or worse consequences, make sure to get permission from a private landowner before scattering ashes on their property.


Many national parks allow the scattering of ashes with the following stipulations:

  • Ashes must not fall on or near archeological or geological sites, bodies of water, roadways, and other developed areas.
  • You must acquire a permit and permission from the chief park ranger.


At Sea

Scattering ashes in the ocean is a choice for many individuals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not require prior authorization, but it does expect citizens to abide by these rules:

  • Ashes must be scattered three nautical miles offshore (but can be at any depth).
  • Any boat may be used for the event.
  • The completion of the Burial at Sea form must be completed within 30 days of the event.
  • Many private boat operators specialize in helping or arranging an ash scattering.
  • The U.S. Navy or Coast Guard can accommodate veterans and spouses of veterans.
  • While scattering ashes does not harm the environment, additional items such as silk flowers, plastic remembrances, etc. are not biodegradable, and pose a risk to sea life and water quality. Instead, fresh, de-stemmed flowers can be used.


Inland rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water may require special permission from state or local authorities, so be sure to contact these authorities before you scatter the ashes of your loved one in those areas.


Together Or Apart

Scattering ashes in one final resting place is not uncommon, and can be the best option in many cases. On the other hand, if your loved one had a list of places that he or she called home, it may be worth exploring the idea of scattering a bit of ashes in all of them. Divide the ashes before you begin scattering them, keeping a small amount for the urn, if you so desire. Then, create a plan to visit the various destinations that were so special to the deceased.


Other Tips For Scattering Ashes

Depending on your emotional state, you may need someone to help you during your journey of remembrance, while scattering ashes. Whether on a picturesque hillside or floating on the open ocean, it’s important to realize that an extra set of hands can be helpful with:

  • Emotional support
  • Planning and logistics
  • Flowers and other eco-friendly remembrances
  • Taking photographs of the ceremony


However you decide to honor your loved one, our staff is always available to help. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

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