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Your Guide to Cremation and Scattering Ashes

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Burial vs cremation: it’s one of the biggest decisions you will have to make when planning your funeral. While burial has long been thought of as the more traditional option, more than half of Queensland families are now going with a cremation.

This isn’t surprising, since cremation is not only likely to be more affordable, it also gives you more flexibility regarding your loved one’s final resting place. You’ll have three main options: placing the ashes in a memorial urn, storing them at a crematory or scattering them in a special place.

Scattering the ashes of a loved one is often a very emotional event, since you are literally letting go of their physical presence. This can make deciding where to hold your scattering ceremony more difficult. In this guide we’ve answered some commonly asked questions about scattering ashes in the hope that it may make that process a little easier.

How do we choose a location?

There are a few questions that can help guide your decision about where to scatter your loved one’s ashes: what did they value most? What were they happiest doing? Was there a place that held a lot of meaning for them?

It’s also important to think about the practical side of things: is the location easy for your family and close friends to visit? Is the area likely to be developed (and therefore disturbed or harder to access)?

Some popular places for scattering ashes include:

  • A quiet park, wetlands or bushland area
  • Near water – ie a beach, lake or river
  • You loved one’s hometown
  • Near another family member’s burial place
  • Your own backyard
  • A tree planting or trenching burial site

Do we need permission or permits for scattering ashes?

Generally, no. In Queensland there are only a few scenarios where you may have to gain permission or a permit. These include:

  • Private property that your family doesn’t own (eg. if your loved one grew up on a property but it has since changed hands, you would need to ask the permission of the new owners – otherwise you will be considered to be trespassing.)
  • Commonwealth marine areas – you will need to apply for a permit.
  • Bushland or rainforest areas that have been declared Commonwealth reserves – again a permit is required. (Note, however, that parks run by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service do not require a permit for scattering ashes.)

It is always wise to research the areas where you are thinking of holding your scattering ceremony. A little planning will make sure your memories of the event aren’t ruined by disputes with officials or fines etc.

How do we go about scattering the ashes?

If you have chosen a location near or on the water, you can choose to release the ashes from an urn, or select a water-soluble container which can then be used as part of a floating ceremony.

Whether you have chosen a waterside or land-based location, it is always a good idea to check the direction the wind is blowing and release the ashes downwards. This should avoid them blowing towards those gathered to witness the ceremony, or in any other direction you don’t want them to go.

Can we split the ashes between locations or family members?

It is absolutely possible for your funeral director or crematory to split your loved one’s ashes into multiple containers in preparation for various personal arrangements. In fact, keep in mind that if urns are available in different sizes and not all will take a full set of adult ashes.

What should we do at the scattering ceremony?

Whether or not you decide to have a separate memorial service, one more advantage of choosing a cremation vs a burial is that you get a little more time to decide how to say your final goodbyes. Think about who you would like to attend, as well as what musicreadings, poems or last words you would like to share. It needn’t be a very formal or complicated event – just focus on what holds the most meaning for you and your family.

For expert advice and guidance on cremation or scattering ashes, call Logan Funerals – we’re available any time of the day (or night) on ph: (07) 3341 4111