Distributing the ashes

The funeral director will ask about what you want to happen to the ashes, and you have a number of choices available.

The funeral director will ask you for instructions about what you want to happen to the ashes after a cremation (you may hear funeral directors refer to ashes as 'cremated remains'). You have a number of choices:

Garden of remembrance

They can be scattered in the garden of remembrance at the crematorium either by the staff or by the family. Staff will do this without you being there if you would prefer. Many crematoria offer a very brief ceremony by a member of staff or you can bring a minister with you. Scattering is sometimes called strewing by funeral directors and crematoria staff. Many crematoria offer other choices such as niches in a columbarium or the purchase of a rose or another plant in the gardens.

Most crematoria produce a booklet explaining all of the choices available. It is often possible to inter the ashes in an existing grave or family plot in a cemetery or churchyard although scattering is often not possible. This may be a way of bringing together family remains when there is no space remaining in an old cemetery or a churchyard that is closed for new burials. Many cemeteries and churchyards also have space set aside for interment of ashes and small headstones may be permitted.

Your garden

You could bury or scatter them in your garden. However you need to bear in mind that to move ashes that have been buried to another location, an exhumation licence would be required.

Store the ashes at home

It is possible to simply store the ashes at home, with a funeral director or at the crematorium, especially if they are to be kept and later scattered or buried with another family member who is still alive. It is essential to keep a written record of where the ashes are and what is to happen to them in the future.

Sea or river

Scatter them at sea or in a river. Please discuss this with the funeral director and also get permission from the landowner through which a river runs. There are concerns about the possible environmental impact of cremated remains in waterways. Scatter them privately in a special place such as a hilltop or woodland. Please seek permission from the landowner - some places now have a problem with altered ecology because of the effect of scattered ashes. Other venues such as football and cricket grounds are popular choices - each venue will have its own policy as to whether or not this is permitted. Your funeral director can find this out for you.

Divided amongst family members

They can be divided amongst family members to deal with separately, which is often a good choice when family live all over the world or they can be placed at several different much loved locations. They can be placed in a piece of jewellery, for example, in a specially designed locket.


There are companies who will scatter ashes over land or sea by plane, insert them into fireworks, make them into a diamond or a glass memorial. There are also areas of the country where you can plant a tree in memory of the person.

The following website is also a very good source of information and useful contacts www.scattering-ashes.co.uk.

Call us if you would like further information or contact details.

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