September 29, 2023

Law Enforcer

Veteran Law News

Scattering Ashes – Determining Where Ashes Should Be Scattered

Scattering ashes of your cremated loved one may make you feel peaceful, closing a chapter of the deceased’s life as well as your own. As you determine where ashes should be scattered, you may choose a place your loved one found very meaningful. It might be the Pacific Ocean or the top of Mount Everest. It might be the Yankee baseball stadium or your own garden. You may want to scatter the ashes at the person’s birthplace, closing the circle of his or her life.

Four members of my family having been cremated, I know the dilemma of determining where ashes should be scattered – or if they should be scattered at all. One’s ashes lie buried in the cemetery next to his wife’s plot. A second’s ashes drifted onto the ocean waters off a picturesque Canadian island. The third’s ashes glided to the ground beneath beautiful Rocky Mountain aspen trees. The last I knew, the fourth’s ashes still rest in the widow’s home.

Possibilities for scattering ashes abound, but take your time before you act. Consider the legal, religious, and personal concerns involved, even if you have the express, written request of the one who went from you. Until you make your decision, you may legally keep ashes at home indefinitely – and you may want to reserve a small amount for a memorial that is unique.

Let’s look together at some of those considerations.


As you determine where ashes should be scattered, take time to understand the laws and regulations in your area. If you live in the United States, you will find no specific national “scattering ashes law” on the federal books. However, you will find a number of rules and regulations at all levels: national, state, and local.

Scattering ashes on private property is fine if you own the property. Otherwise, you are trespassing. You might be surprised to know that sports stadiums, museums, etc. qualify as private property, not public, and fall under these regulations. You may be able to get permission to scatter ashes on private property, but be sure you get it in writing.

Most national parks in the U.S. allow you to scatter ashes of a loved one, but you must follow specific regulations. You may not simply determine, for example, that the ashes will be scattered near Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, even if that was the favorite scene of your loved one and it holds precious memories. Speak to the chief park ranger ahead of time to ask about a permit and learn which areas of the park are acceptable.

As you determine where ashes should be scattered, you may opt for a burial at sea. Be aware first, of course, of specific laws within the state bordering the chosen ocean spot. California, for example, does not permit scattering ashes closer than 500 yards from any place on their shore. In North Carolina, the scattering of cremated human remains (ashes) in Cape Lookout National Seashore attracts many mourners – so authorities regulate it well. Even scattering ashes there from an airplane must occur only after you have reached the minimum of 2000 feet altitude. Other ocean-bordering states have other specific regulations, so don’t risk breaking the law. The United States EPA states that scattering ashes in the ocean falls within legal boundaries, but you must obey scattering ashes regulations ( ).

There are many more rules and laws, but these give an idea of what you face.

Scattering ashes should not result in a citation, so as you determine where ashes should be scattered, research the areas you are considering.


Before scattering ashes, discuss religious concerns with your religious leader. Out of the thirteen-plus (13+) religious perspectives on cremation, you will want to consider the religious concerns as you determine where ashes should be scattered.

Greek Orthodox, Jewish Orthodox, and Muslim faiths forbid cremation altogether, as do some fundamentalist Protestant groups.

Roman Catholic readers will want to consider the stand of the Roman Catholic Church on this matter, which is stated in the Instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation, published on October 25, 2016. It reads:

“The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased, because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased. Nevertheless, cremation is not prohibited, “unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine”.


While scattering ashes has become customary, as you determine where ashes of your loved one should be scattered, you may want to consider reserving a small amount of the ashes (ashes).

Why do I suggest that?

A growing number of us hate to lose every trace of our loved ones, and choose instead to order a unique memorial that allows us to have ongoing closeness to them. Cremation jewelry provides that closeness. Cremation jewelry can be just such a memorial.


“Cremation jewelry is the perfect way to keep the ashes of your loved one close to your heart.”

So writes Mark, the professional glass artist at Mark has worked with glass jewelry for 20+ years and his stunning blown work makes a lasting, beautiful memorial. I personally own several of Mark’s glass pendants, and get compliments on their beauty on a regular basis. Mark’s blown glass marbles, one of which my husband prizes, are every bit as lovely and lasting.

Unlike impersonal cremation jewelry providers, Mark personally processes your order, and creates the desired pendant or marble while thinking on the memories of your departed loved one you shared with him

You receive a kit (small glass jar and measuring scoop) in which to send your loved one’s ashes. If you order additional pendants or marbles for family members, you place one scoop (about 1/4 tsp) of ashes in the jar for each memorial you ordered. You return the jar in a prepaid mailing envelope along with any photos or written memories of your loved one you want to share. Mark returns all of these to you with your completed cremation jewelry.


Scattering ashes remains an option, but as you determine where ashes should be scattered, you might want to consider also retaining enough ashes to order a precious, unique cremation memorial for each family member to treasure.