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Respecting Funeral Requests

It’s quite common now to leave instructions for how you would like your ashes to be scattered. Telling our loved ones our funeral wishes in advance can help avoid them having to guess what we ‘would have wanted’. It can also give those are grieving a greater peace of mind, to know that they are respecting the wishes of the deceased.

Can ashes be kept at home?

YES – and this is a very popular option for many as it keeps their loved one close to them. Often individuals prefer to retain Cremated Remains until their own passing and then both sets of ashes are put together. Casket or Scatter Tube is ideally suited for this purpose and you do not require any permission or permit to keep them at home.

Where can ashes be scattered?

Deciding what to do with the ashes can be a very personal thing. Star Trek’s Scotty (James Doohan) had his blasted into space! Some people like to have their ashes spread around their favourite football ground, though that is dependent on the individual policy of the club or owner. The laws in the UK are quite relaxed, but in most cases you need to get permission of some description.

Can ashes be scattered in a cemetery?

Not all formal burial areas such as a churchyard or cemetery allow spreading ashes on family graves, and it’s best to ensure that you have the rights. Many cemeteries have rose gardens and specific areas where you can spread ashes in scenic sections.

Can ashes be scattered on private land?

You always need the landowner’s permission to spread ashes on private land. Even if it’s your own garden, make sure you have the right to visit it at a later date - after all, you may sell the home one day. If you are burying an urn or a casket containing the ashes, be aware that in legal terms ashes are treated as a body would, and you have to follow similar procedures and restrictions as if you were burying a coffin in the garden, such as restrictive covenants regarding the freehold of the land. Waterproof urns, tightly sealed but easy to open, are best.

Can ashes be scattered in water?

It’s fine to use water, with some caveats. For inland rivers or lakes contact the local Environment Agency to check there is no nearby water supply and try to avoid areas where people might be swimming, fishing or boating while you’re doing the ceremony. Only use biodegradable (not plastic) wreaths or flowers if you need them. With sea burials you don’t need permits, unlike with burials at sea, but if it is within five miles out of shore it is advisable to let the local Environment Agency know. 

Can ashes be scattered in National Parks and other natural monuments?

Whether mountain tops, hillsides or open parkland, there’s usually nothing to stop you from having an ashes-scattering ceremony. Bear in mind that while human ashes are not toxic, they do contain phosphate which can have effects on fragile plant life. It also gets very windy out in the open and ashes can blow the wrong way or even in mourners’ faces, and with some crowded beauty spots you may not get the privacy you are after for a meaningful ashes ceremony.

Can ashes be divided?

It’s perfectly acceptable to divide the ashes, spreading them in different locations. In fact, with families often spread far and wide, it can be a good way to give closure to everyone involved by allowing several mourners to take part in their own way and have somewhere close to pay respects. It can also be a good way to fulfil the wishes of the deceased in different ways. No one claimant has a single right to the ashes - legally no-one can ‘own’ a dead body, likewise with the ashes.

Taking ashes overseas

If you want to take Cremated Remains to another country, you really need to seek guidance first because some countries, including France as an example, do not allow Cremated Remains to be scattered privately or kept at home. There can often be strict regulations governing Cremated Remains, you also need to seek information from your chosen airline, most allow ashes to be carried as hand luggage but seeking their guidance first will prevent unforeseen problems. You will also ned to accompany the Cremated Remains with certain documentation, so for best practice, always consult your Funeral Director first.