Cremated remains mixed with local soil

10 Meaningful Options for Cremation Ashes: How to Choose What’s Right for You

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When honoring a loved one, there are so many options for cremation ashes.

From having ashes made into art or jewelry to interring them in special ash-infused objects, there are many meaningful ways to honor your loved one. By understanding the range of possibilities available, you can make a more informed decision that provides comfort, fosters new life, and creates a lasting tribute aligned with your values. 

In this article, we’ll explore ten unique and creative options that turn ashes into a cherished legacy. Read on to discover compassionate choices that transform ashes into a profound personal memorial.

Options for Cremation Ashes: Scattering in Meaningful Locations

1. In a Memorial Forest

If scattering ashes in an open environment like the ocean, mountains, or air feels too impermanent, you may consider having your ashes spread in a Memorial Forest. Scattering in a Memorial Forest offers a distinctive blend of tranquility and continuity. Unlike traditional urns, this option provides an evolving tribute where nature flourishes, keeping the memory alive through the changing seasons.

Ashes are gently mixed with soil and spread at the base of a chosen tree, ensuring they become an integral part of the ecosystem. This process allows the ashes to nourish the soil, fostering the growth of new trees and plants creating a life legacy.

Before proceeding, research the chosen memorial forest’s regulations and guidelines for scattering and ensure proper permission and adherence to their specific process. Consider the meaningful connection your loved one had with nature when selecting the perfect tree or location.

2. In the ocean

Scattering ashes in a cherished body of water can be a fitting tribute for those deeply connected to the ocean or lakes. Water scattering is popular among options for cremation ashes. However, public beaches often have restrictions, like designated areas in California, so checking regulations is important. For private beaches, written permission from landowners is typically required.

For the scattering process, several factors come into play:

  • Begin by choosing a spot on the beach that resonates with memories of your loved one. 
  • Consider wind direction and timing, factoring in weather conditions and tides. 
  • Opt for a suitable container that can be easily accessed for scattering. 
  • If desired, organize a heartfelt ceremony before scattering.

To make the experience even more special, consider creative touches like timing the scattering with the incoming tide, having a beach bonfire, inscribing messages in the sand, releasing flowers alongside the ashes, or speaking a few heartfelt words as you scatter. 

Ashes become one with the currents, making revisiting a lasting memorial site harder. Those wanting an accessible place to reflect may find comfort in more permanent memorial options.

3. In the mountains 

Ashes sit in special containers before being spread in a memorial forest

Choosing to scatter ashes in the mountains signifies a backdrop of towering peaks and vast landscapes, embodying strength and serenity. Carefully selecting the mountain location involves considering your loved one’s connection to certain mountains or ranges. Reflect upon whether they found solace in hiking, delight in camping, or simply cherished the sight of those majestic peaks.

Before proceeding with scattering ashes in the mountains, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research into the specific regulations of the chosen area. This step is particularly important for locations like national parks, where established guidelines often govern the act of scattering ashes.

While the windswept peaks provide a poignant ceremonial tribute, the remote terrain can make regularly returning to the exact scattering site challenging.

4. In the air

Scattering cremated ashes in the air is a poignant way to honor your loved one. Whether you opt for airlines or drones, it’s crucial to understand the regulations and considerations. This is one of the many options for ashes after cremation that require careful planning.

Different airlines may have varying regulations concerning the transport of cremated remains. The FAA permits scattering ashes from a plane as long as it poses no danger. Some airlines allow transporting urns as hand or checked baggage. Having the crematorium certificate can be advisable.

When spreading ashes from a plane, carefully release them into the wind flow to avoid distressing blowback. For drone scattering, use biodegradable containers.

While providing a majestic aerial tribute, air scattering can be costly and logistically complex for families to arrange and carry out.

5. In space

When seeking an exceptional tribute for those who lived extraordinary lives, scattering ashes in space is one of the more celestial options after cremation that truly transcends earthly boundaries.

The process involves selecting from a range of space flight options depending on whether the flight would be orbiting the Earth or the moon. Drifting for several months, the ashes become part of the universe’s grand tapestry, descending as raindrops and snowflakes to merge with the Earth’s elements once again. It’s an otherworldly adventure that transcends the ordinary.

Whether someone had an unfulfilled yearning to venture among the stars or simply possessed an awe for the cosmos, this tribute offers a fitting farewell. However, the enormous costs involved make space scattering inaccessible for many families. Other affordable options on Earth can provide similar meaning.

6. In the garden

Distinct from other methods, scattering ashes in your garden provides an intimate and perpetual connection with your loved one. This method offers a tranquil and personalized tribute, where nature becomes a living memorial.

Choose a special corner in your garden and gently disperse the ashes over the soil, allowing them to blend with the earth. Consider planting a tree or flowers as a symbol of growth and remembrance. This unique act transforms your garden into a sacred space, a serene sanctuary of memories.

If you’re concerned about mobility, create a small memorial garden with a plaque or stone, allowing you to honor your loved one without scattering.

Ps: Avoid scattering near water bodies to prevent pollution and comply with local regulations.

While meaningful, over time the exact scattering spot may lose definition or if you move, visiting the memorial site may become difficult.

7. At a favorite vacation spot

Selecting a favorite vacation spot involves revisiting a place that holds special significance to the departed thus making it a heartfelt option for ashes after cremation to resonate deeply with both the departed and their loved ones.

The ashes are gently released in a manner that resonates with the location’s spirit – whether by the shore, amidst lush landscapes, or overlooking breathtaking vistas. This creates an enduring bond between shared vacation memories and the final resting place.

You can capture the essence of the location by planning a simple ceremony inviting friends and family to share stories and memories before scattering the ashes. For a unique touch, consider incorporating elements that embody the spirit of the vacation spot, such as releasing flower petals or symbolic items.

A young couple spreads cremated ashes with rose petals in a forest memorial

Respect the environment and fellow visitors, avoiding areas that might disrupt the natural balance. In some cases, weather or accessibility may impact the scattering, so have a backup plan.

While nostalgic, visiting the vacation spot memorial may become impractical over time. A more accessible tribute location may better accommodate remembrance.

8. In glass keepsakes

Looking for a distinct and artistic way to honor your loved one’s memory? Consider scattering ashes in glass keepsakes – it’s quite unlike the traditional methods you’ve heard of. Here’s how it works: You’ll team up with skilled artisans who’ll incorporate a small portion of your loved one’s cremated remains into molten glass as they create a beautiful keepsake.

As the glass cools and solidifies, it encapsulates those precious ashes, creating a visually captivating and deeply meaningful piece. The glass keepsake becomes a tangible way to hold onto a part of your loved one wherever you go.

You’ll have the freedom to choose the type of glass, its color, and the design to match your unique preferences. Just remember, when it comes to design, simpler might be better to ensure the ashes are showcased effectively.

While a personalized tribute, glass keepsakes only use a small portion of ashes. Those seeking to commemorate with the entirety may prefer different options.

9. In a national park

Imagine standing in a breathtaking national park that was significant for your loved one. You’ll choose a secluded spot, away from trails and water sources, where you can scatter the ashes. As you release the ashes into the wind, they become one with the surroundings, symbolizing a return to nature.

Before you embark on this meaningful journey, consider the park’s regulations. Each park has its own rules about where and how scattering is allowed. Be sure to obtain any necessary permits or permissions, respecting the park’s guidelines. Also, remember the environmental impact – choose a spot that won’t disrupt the ecosystem.

To make this tribute even more special, consider combining it with an activity your loved one enjoys, such as hiking or birdwatching. You could create a small memorial marker or leave behind a natural element like a flower or a stone. This way, you’re honoring their memory and contributing positively to the park.

While a fitting environment, the transient crowds in public parks may detract from the intimacy of the ceremonial experience. Those wanting a more private option could consider alternatives.

A couple walks down a path with their dog in a memorial forest

10. In a painting

Choosing the perfect canvas and art style for incorporating ashes is like picking a special vacation spot for scattering them. The ashes are carefully mixed with paint, creating art that embodies the departed’s essence, whether it’s through personal portraits, abstract forms, or vivid landscapes.

To make the event meaningful, consider hosting a small art-viewing ceremony. Invite close friends and family to share stories and memories of the loved one. To add emotional depth, incorporate elements that resonate with the person’s life, such as their favorite color or meaningful symbols. As one would be respectful when scattering ashes outdoors, be mindful of the ongoing ethical discussions around using ashes in art.

Choose your painting medium wisely to ensure the artwork stands the test of time. Ultimately, painting with ashes creates a lasting tribute, transforming the canvas into a final resting place rich in emotion and personal significance.

The uniqueness of each art piece may pose challenges for families seeking a tribute to be shared collectively over time.

Parting Thoughts

The search for impactful ways to remember our loved ones is ongoing, especially when traditional funerals seem more detached than ever. In our exploration, we’ve covered options for cremation ashes that range from scattering ashes in memorable places like beaches and mountains to more artistic routes like glass keepsakes and personalized art.

But what if the legacy you wish to leave—or offer your loved one—could also protect and preserve nature?

At Better Place Forests, we offer a soulful journey that allows you to become an everlasting part of a thriving, protected forest. Your chosen Memorial Tree is not merely a plaque or marker; it’s a dynamic tribute, forming a living circle of life where your loved one’s ashes enrich the soil and nurture new life. 

We also ensure a simple and seamless process, handling all the necessary permissions and guidelines so you can focus on the meaningful tribute to your loved ones.

Why not transform your story of loss into a lasting, living tribute? Embark on a journey towards ‘creating a better place‘ for your loved one today with Better Place Forests.


What is the best thing to do with cremation ashes?

The best thing to do with cremation ashes varies from person to person, based on their values and wishes. While some find solace in traditional urns, others explore creative options for cremation ashes, like art keepsakes or scattering in special locations. For those drawn to nature, Better Place Forests provides a unique way to turn ashes into a lasting, living legacy by becoming part of a Memorial Tree in a protected forest.

How long should you keep ashes after cremation?

There’s no set time frame for how long you should keep ashes after cremation. The decision is highly personal and often guided by emotional readiness or cultural beliefs. Exploring options after cremation, like scattering in meaningful places, creating art, or opting for a memorial forest, can help you decide when the time feels right. Some families keep ashes in urns indefinitely, while others may wait for a special occasion or date to carry out a chosen tribute.

Is it bad feng shui to keep ashes in the house?

In Feng Shui, keeping ashes in the house is generally considered to bring negative energy. The belief is that this could stagnate life force and create emotional heaviness. However, opinions vary, and some may not adhere to Feng Shui principles. If you’re concerned, consult a Feng Shui expert for personalized advice on balancing energy while respecting your loved one’s memory.

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