Many people opt for cremation over burial because it’s much more economical while allowing you to maintain a memorial for your loved one in your home. More importantly, the symbolic aspect allows the bereaved to construct their own unique mourning ritual.
Although cremation is becoming more and more popular, it actually has deep historical roots, dating back at least 20,000 years. In fact, modern day urns are named for the Ancient European Urn field culture of the Bronze Age who developed the practice of keeping the ashes of loved ones in ceremonial ceramic urns, a precursor to modern art urns.
Those who choose cremation often scatter the ashes as a symbolic gesture of letting go of their grief. Scattering ceremonies should be held somewhere that has meaning for either the deceased or their family. A baseball fan may request that his ashes are scattered at Dodger Stadium, while some even opt for a “eco-burial” by having some of their ashes mixed with soil and planted with a sapling. With cremation, the possibilities are as endless as your creativity.
If you are planning a scattering ceremony, check out these popular ways to scatter ashes from around the world.
- Scatter at Sea - US Navy
Because the ocean represents cleansing and rebirth, scattering ashes at sea or the beach is a popular method in the US. This ceremony is particularly meaningful for those who served in the Navy. The US Navy offers free scattering at sea ceremonies for veterans, however their families are not permitted to attend.
- River Immersion - India
Cremation is the preferred practice for Hindus in India. According to Hindu tradition, the ashes must be immersed in the holy Ganges River. The immersion is believed to release the soul to eventually be reborn, while representing union with nature.
- Trip Around the World - World Wide
Grief is often a paralysing and debilitating feeling, which is why travelling can be so powerful. A recent trend in travelling the world to scatter the ashes of a loved one has become a beautiful scattering practice. You may choose to spread ashes at some of your loved one’s favourite locations, or places they always wanted to visit. The US National Parks system even has their own scattering program.
- Scattered from Air - India
The assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi left a nation heartbroken. After a traditional Hindu cremation, Indira’s son scattered her ashes over the stunning landscape of the Himalayan Mountains that she loved so much. Now this practice has spread in popularity around the world, as it allows the family a beautiful moment over a beloved landscape while scattering ashes.
Whether you want to scatter ashes around the world, hold them in a keepsake ceramic urn, host an “eco-burial,” or any combination of the above, this list of fascinating scattering practices should inspire you to put together a grief ritual that helps you heal.