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5 Things You Can Do with Scattering Urns after Scattering Ashes

 by Jerri Haaven, certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant 

Scattering urn ideas

Photo by piX dust "the last goodbye"

The decision to scatter your cremated ashes, or those of a loved one, might involve serious considerations, or perhaps evoke fun ideas as to where to scatter. You’ve probably put a lot of thought into the decision, whether you're pre-planning your final arrangements or are considering what to do with the remains of a loved one. Ideally, you’ve come up with a great idea and the scattering went smoothly.

Once the ceremony of spreading ashes is complete, people often realize they’re left with a scattering urn without an idea of what to do with the urn. Whether you’re in the preplanning stages, or post-scattering stage, we’ve gathered information on scattering urns, along with a few ideas to consider on how they might be reused after their initial purpose has been served.

What type of scattering urn will be used?

Unlike keepsake urns and memorial urns that are displayed in the home, scattering urns are designed specifically to contain and “scatter” or sprinkle cremains. Ashes are usually scattered in an area, or in multiple areas, that were meaningful to the individual. The scattering urn in some cases is not as decorative as traditional display urns.

Scattering urns fulfill various purposes and the design of the scattering urn should reflect how where you plan on scattering the ashes. Take into account how your loved one will be laid to rest before choosing a scattering urn. We’ve listed a few suggestions for scattering urns below depending on how you intend to say your final goodbye to your loved one.

  • Will it be used in an ash scattering ceremonyon land or at sea? Biodegradable urns for sea, such as the sea turtle, are designed to gently sink in the water after scattering, and then biodegrade over time. Be sure to review ash scattering regulations that might apply.
  • Did your loved one want to be scattered from the top of a mountain? Is the urn easy to carry and lightweight? This is important especially if the scattering location requires climbing, or if you’re carrying various other objects for the ceremony, or if a child or an elderly person might be holding it.
  • Is it important that the urn be a green urn or eco-friendly? Can it be recycled easily, repurposed or composted? If your loved one was a friend of the environment, they'll appreciate this detail.
  • If you need to transport ashes on an airplane, will the urn meet airline security regulations? Our article on how to mail ashes and travel with ashesprovides important information.
  • Do you want the urn to symbolize your life, your values, or those of a loved one? Consider style, texture and material, and of course, the place for scattering.

For someone who loved the majestic beauty of mountains and advocated for a greener planet, the Mountain Cremation Scattering Tube might be ideal. Rich in color, and made of recycled paper, this vessel is easy to handle and can be brought onto airlines for easy transport.

Another popular consideration is to ensure that family members attending a ceremony can each have their own urn to honor a loved one. The Biodegradable Bamboo Scattering Tube - Large environmentally friendly bamboo scattering tube offers a biodegradable option for scattering a loved one's ashes

Let’s face it - not everyone is conventional. There is the person who wanted a portion of his ashes sprinkled in his favorite tavern. Or, another person who simply wanted to be whisked away in the wind from the rolled down window in the car. The container wasn’t important. In fact, we’ve read stories of a Ziploc bag working well! If your loved one was alternative in life, follow their lead in death and think about unique containers to hold their ashes to be scattered. What about:

  • Tupperware
  • Coffee can (made popular in the film, The Big Lebowski)
  • Paper bag that you can decorate
  • Wine bottle or other type bottle
  • Perfume bottle

There is no right or wrong way to store or scatter someone's ashes, which is an advantage of being cremated. Your imagination might surprise you with a great idea. Photos of your life or your loved one might inspire an idea.

What to do with the scattering urn when scattering is done?

Ok, the ceremony for scattering ash is over. Now what? Perhaps this is a straightforward decision for you. But if you’re struggling, here are 5 ideas that might resonate or spur your imagination.

  1. If the urn can hold water, use it as a vase for live flowers; or create a dried floral arrangement from flowers you received at the funeral or ceremony if the urn is water-soluble and won't hold water.
  2. Biodegradable urns for land can be buried during the ceremony, recycled later or composted. A water biodegradable urn can be added to the water where it will gently disintegrate.
  3. Donate the urn to be used by families who are financially in need and cannot afford the cost of personalizing a death. Contact a local funeral home, nursing home, or church.
  4. Designate it as a family urn to be reused for other family members.
  5. Display the scattering urn in the home as a memento. Consider adding love notes, photographs, a lock of hair, buttons from a favorite shirt, or a small portion of ashes left over. This way the urn doubles as an in-home memorial while still allowing you to honor your loved one's final wishes.

What have you seen used for scattering ashes? A boot, perhaps? Or a pickle jar? A beer can? What other ideas do you have? Share them with a comment or on OneWorld Memorials Facebook page. Who knows, you might help someone with your great idea.

*photo can be found here:

Jerri Haaven is a freelance writer, and a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant. When caring for her dad, who suffered from dementia and COPD, Jerri struggled with the negative side effects of his illness. She developed positive outlets to express herself and recover from her loss. Today as a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant, she uses her skills to help people who are in the midst of their own personal story of grief and loss.