Scatter, Bury or Keep? What To Do with a Loved One's Ashes

Scatter, Bury or Keep? What To Do with a Loved One's Ashes
3 minute read

In the last few years, we’ve watched as the cremation has become a popular funeral option for many across North America. The increase in cremation can be attributed to several things, from concerns over land conservation and safeguarding the environment and its generally lower cost. With the choice of cremation comes other considerations, one specifically being: what do you do with a loved one’s ashes?

How you and your loved ones answer this question will depend on a number of factors.

Firstly, you should be thinking about whether or not your loved one had any specific wishes that they expressed before passing. Often, they have outlined what their choices are within their living will. If they have chosen cremation, they also probably have specific wishes as to where and how they would like their ashes to taken care of.

Ultimately, no matter how you and your loved ones decide to handle the deceased’s ashes, you will need to consider several logistical and legal factors.

We’ve outlined a few of the most important considerations below.

Spreading ashes is a very sentimental act, and we must approach it with care and delicacy.

When broaching a subject such as spreading the ashes of the loved one, we must give it the sensitivity it deserves. Generally, laying a loved one to rest can be a sad and significant moment. However, it can also be seen as a celebration—a time to remember your loved one who has passed.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s essential that you take time to discuss, plan for, and even think about how to handle the ashes of a loved one. It’s never an easy situation, so we must approach this subject with respect and sympathy.

Be aware of your region’s laws around scattering ashes.

A favourite go-to for many when scattering the ashes of a loved one is to go to a meaningful spot. This could be a favourite place for the deceased or a special place close to loved ones. If you are looking to scatter the ashes in a particular area, it’s essential that you do your due diligence.

In Canada, no actual laws are associated with the scattering of cremated remains. Scattering ashes is permitted on any Crown land or water, and does not require a permit, unless there is a sign prohibiting it. Same goes for water on Crown land. This includes scattering them in water. However, some ground rules should be followed.

If you want to scatter on Municipal land you need permission and should double check by-laws. In all cases, even though no permit is needed, permission should be obtained before scattering. Further, it is recommended that scattering is done with discretion. Please be respectful of your surroundings and be environmentally aware.

You can also scatter on Private Property as long as you have written permission from the land owner.

You can bury the ashes or the urn

If you choose not to scatter your loved one’s ashes, burying them is another viable option.

This could be a good option for those with family plots and find peace and closure in a traditional burial ceremony in a cemetery. An urn burial follows the traditional casket burial style, but in a smaller plot with a lining. It can be in the ground or housed in a columbarium, which is essentially a mausoleum for urns.

New and creative ways to memorialize your loved ones

Thanks to technology, ashes can now be fashioned into many things: memorial jewelry, glass, fireworks, mosaic art, and other unique objects. They can also be fused into ocean reefs for an underwater burial or sent into space.

Here is a list of some of our partners who offer interesting and unique ways to memorialize your loved ones.

Beyond Burials: send your loved ones into space
Eterneva: Turn your loved one into a diamond
And Vinyly: memorialize your loved one by having their ashes pressed into playable vinyl records.  
Parting Stone: Solidified remains let you feel a meaningful connection with your departed. No more uncomfortable ash.

...or just check out our great blog post here on some creative ways to memorialize your loved ones.

Open up the discussion.

If you’re planning your end-of-life options ahead of time, share your wishes on how you wish to be laid to rest. Whether it’s being buried in an urn, kept in a columbarium, or scattered in your favourite place, preserving a record in your will of your wishes is essential.

Whatever your choice is, sharing this information with a loved one can be challenging. Check out our resources to learn how to have tough conversations around choosing cremation.