To Scatter or Not to Scatter?

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 11.53.14 AM

That is the question for your loved ones.

There is a wonderful romance about having your cremated remains scattered at your favorite place in the world. Some of my favorite stories about scattering include those who travel the world with the ashes of their loved one, spreading portions in special places to honor them and their adventurous spirit. My cousin, an avid pheasant hunter, had his ashes loaded into shotgun shells and had the family gather for a farewell sporting event, each with a bit of Newt to blast off into the sky.If you are contemplating having your ashes scattered, or you simply don’t know what to do with them, I urge you to consult your loved ones. You’ll be gone, after all, and they will left holding the bag, so to speak.

I’m not at all against scattering.In fact, I’m considering it myself primarily because I have no children, and I don’t think anyone will be likely to visit. It’s clean, simple, and seems like one of the least environmentally disruptive alternatives. Yes, I sell urns, and I’d love for you to buy an urn by one of my artists, but that’s not my motivation for this post.(Really!).There are a couple of things to consider when you are deciding, or deciding not to decide, about what to do with your remains.

People sometimes need a place to go.

There’s something about making a pilgrimage to a family gravesite that instills a sense of history, meaning and belonging in this world. A grave site provides a place to ponder, to talk, to reminisce, and perhaps a place to work out a few things that didn’t get taken care of in this life. A place where you ‘are’ can give your loved ones an opportunity to come full circle with you.

You can’t get there from here.

Of course you can visit a favorite spot and do all those things.The ocean, mountain or canyon will always be there.One branch of my family makes an annual mountain top hike in Montana to a spot where they’ve installed a bronze memorial in a rock to honor my uncle. My aunt is in her 80’s now, and though she is very fit, she sadly can no longer visit. A friend of mine scattered his father’s ashes in his favorite hunting spot. The family made many trips but after the years went by, they could no longer find the trail into the woods.

You might get lost or forgotten.

No kidding. You’d be amazed how many people tell me ‘Uncle Charlie’s’ ashes are still sitting on the closet shelf. Deciding not to decide is a decision. So if that’s the path you choose, well, I guess it won’t’ really matter to you! One day, I got a call from a friend in a panic. “I can’t find Mom!” She had put Mom’s ashes in the attic, waiting for a time when the family could gather and join them with her father’s ashes. “I know she’s up there somewhere, but I’ve looked and looked. Man, is she pissed of at me now!”

CANA, the Cremation Association of North America, estimates that about ⅓ of cremated remains are buried, ⅓ are kept at home, and ⅓ are scattered.There really are no rules anymore, except to follow your heart and consider the hearts of those you leave behind.