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13 things to say when scattering ashes

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Better Place Forests creates and maintains conservation memorial forests for people who choose cremation and don’t want their ashes to end up in a traditional cemetery.

If you’ve recently lost a close friend or relative, you may receive an invitation to help spread their ashes. This beautiful ritual can bring peace and comfort during your time of grief as you celebrate and reflect on the life of your loved one while spreading their ashes.

However, if you’ve never participated in this tradition, you may be unsure about what to say when scattering ashes. There are endless options of what you can share, from reciting poems and prayers to sharing personal memories or a special message. In some cases, you might not want to say anything at all, but instead, simply take a moment of silence to reflect on their life. Just remember to choose something that’s meaningful to you or something that reflects the person whose life you’re honoring. 

If you’re looking for some special ideas for scattering ashes, our guide can provide some inspiration for your special tribute with 10 meaningful quotes, poems, prayers, and messages to consider when spreading the ashes of a loved one.

13 meaningful things to say when scattering ashes

We understand that it can be hard to find the right words to say when spreading your loved one’s ashes. This list provides you with several options you might want to use at your special ceremony.

Scattering ashes quotes

If you’re not sure what to say when scattering ashes, consider sharing a quote about life and death. Although these quotes are short and sweet, they’re impactful and provide some reflection on life and love. 

1. “May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with fairies, and talk to the moon.” -Leny Hollie

2. “You may be gone from my sight, but you are never gone from my heart.” -Luther F. Beecher

3. “Only a moment you stayed, but what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts.” -Dorothy Ferguson

4. “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” – Irving Berlin

Poems to say when scattering ashes

Another option is to recite one of these powerful poems when scattering ashes. These poems speak of love and loss while instilling messages of hope and inspiration. It’s another way to add a special touch, as poems offer beautiful metaphors that help us express what we can’t always put into words ourselves. 

5. “When I’m Among the Trees” by Mary Oliver.

When I am among the trees, 

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me, the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, ‘Stay awhile.’

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, ‘It’s simple,’ they say,

and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.

Read more: What makes a Better Place Forest memorial ceremony unique

6. “Those We Love” -Alex MacLean

Those we love don’t go away;

they walk beside us every day,

unseen, unheard, but always near;

still loved, still missed, still very dear.

7. “May Time Soften Your Pain” -Anon

In times of darkness, love sees

In times of silence, love hears

In times of doubt, love hopes

In times of sorrow, love heals

And in all times, love remembers

May time soften the pain

Until all that remains 

Is the warmth of the memories

And the love.

8. “Peace, My Heart” -Rabindranath Tagore

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.

Let it not be a death but completeness.

Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.

Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.

Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.

Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.

I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

Prayers to say when scattering ashes

For some, saying a prayer while spreading ashes can bring a sense of solace. We’ve included a few prayers for inspiration. 

9. An Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

10. Prayer for Eternal Rest

In your hands, O Lord,

we humbly entrust our brothers and sisters.

In this life, you embraced them with your tender love;

Deliver them now from every evil,

and bid them eternal rest.

The old order has passed away.

Welcome them into paradise,

where there will be no sorrow, no weeping or pain,

but the fullness of peace and joy

with your Son and the Holy Spirit, 

forever and ever.

11. An Apache Blessing

May the sun bring you new energy every day,

bringing light into the darkness of your soul.

May the moon softly restore you by night,

bathing you in the glow of restful sleep and peaceful dreams.

May the rain wash away your worries,

and cleanse the hurt that sits in your heart.

May the breeze blow new strength into your being,

and may you believe in the courage of yourself.

May you walk gently through the world,

keeping your loved one with you always.

Knowing you are never parted in the beating of your heart.

Personal messages for spreading ashes

You don’t have to rely on someone else’s words to honor your loved one. Whether you share your favorite memory of them or simply say how much they’ll be missed, your words provide a beautiful tribute to the deceased. 

12. Share a special memory

When honoring the life of a loved one, reflecting on a fond memory can also be a thoughtful tribute. Share a story that encompasses who they were as a person or what they meant to you while you spread their ashes. 

You could share about the moment you fell in love with them, the time they made you laugh so hard you cried, or how you became best friends. Any special memories you share are meaningful and will give others a chance to reflect as well.

13. Say a final goodbye 

When preparing for an ash-spreading ceremony, don’t feel like you have to write or rehearse a speech ahead of time. Sometimes, simply sharing a few final words about how much you love and miss the deceased can be extremely powerful. 

For example, “I love you with all my heart and will miss you dearly,” or “My love for you will never waiver, and I’ll think of you every day.” 

This list just scratches the surface when it comes to all the heartfelt things you can say when scattering ashes. As long as you speak from the heart, whatever you decide to say when spreading ashes is certain to be a perfect tribute.

Read more: Guide to scattering ashes in California

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