Ceremonies for Scattering Ashes

Ceremonies for Scattering Ashes

Creating a funeral ceremony, memorial or scattering ceremony that reflects you - your ideas, beliefs and feelings - will become increasingly clear. As you begin to find your way through the exercise of confronting your own mortality by planning your personalized funeral ceremony, be bold. Displaying symbols of your life at the funeral or memorial ceremony might help your family remember what you liked and what you did, so get creative when planning a funeral ceremony.

Props alone will not give them a sense of what they loved about you, however. Having your golf clubs displayed at the head of your casket will certainly spark thoughts about your enjoyment of golf to your family and friends, but that alone can never crystallize the childlike energy and beautiful sense of awe you experienced when you hit that solid sweet spot and saw the ball sail down the fairway. Arrange your funeral ceremony, therefore, to bring your family and friends that experience. Have golf balls given to the scattering ceremony attendees with the request they take it to a tee and hit it in your memory. Or have the funeral at the golf course and make hitting the ball part of the scattering ceremony.

Whether simple or elaborate, traditional or contemporary, a funeral ceremony or memorial ceremony or scattering ceremony is more meaningful when planned around best-loved activities, hobbies, and interests. Bringing favorite things to the gathering gives others a chance to share and remember. In what creative ways can you display a loved one's interest?

Scattering Ceremony Ideas

Example 1

Litany: When We Remember Her or Him
All: We will remember her.
One: At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn. . .
All: We will remember her. All: For as long as we live, she too will live. . .

One: Good morning. Welcome to this gathering of remembrance and farewell to Elizabeth Edmond, fondly known as Lizzie, beloved daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. I am Celebrant Caroline Flanders. Lizzie’s daughters as well as her husband are on the boat and will hear our ceremony through my microphone ear piece. I invite you to mute any cell phones at this time and join me in a brief moment of silent reflection. Please take a moment to savor the sounds all around us, to feel the ocean on Your skin, to be present to this sacred time in honor of Lizzie.(one minute of silence/settling in)Let us pray. Out of the simple quiet, we bring our attention to the memory of a beautiful woman, Lizzie Edmond. We recognize the presence of God at this gathering. We honor the faith in God that Lizzie carried through her days on Earth by welcoming the comfort of her God and her Lord Jesus Christ. May all of those beings of beauty and love be present with us here this morning. God the Father, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit, guide our works, grant us Your benevolent grace, join us with Your compassion and nurturing love. We are grateful for the opportunity to commemorate the beautiful life of a beautiful woman, to say farewell to our beloved Lizzie. Amen. This gathering is an opportunity to say goodbye to Lizzie and to send her on her next journey. As we part from her physical presence, there is comfort in knowing that she is now at peace. We can choose to focus on our positive memories of Lizzie, and in doing so, we grant that she will have an everlasting place in our fondest recollections. In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life. We must be able to accept death and go from its presence better able to bear our burdens and to lighten the load of others. Though we grieve the deaths of our loved ones, we accept them and hold on to our memories as precious gifts. Let us make the best of our loved ones while they are with us, and let us not bury our love with death. Often, solace can be found in times such as this in the beauty of the Scripture. The words written in the Holy Bible are felt to be God’s communication to us about our spiritual roots and our ultimate destiny as human souls. In Psalm 23, we read: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
And so, let us now remember Lizzie through the words of her Dear Brother Chuck. There will be an opportunity for others to share their memories at the brunch gathering following our service.


Thank You Chuck for sharing some of the highlights of Lizzie’s life and a poignant glimpse into the beautiful essence of her personality.

With a loving memory of Lizzie in our hearts, let us hear the words of this poem by an anonymous author:
"Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free
I'm following the path God has laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard him call
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day
To laugh, to love, to work, to play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way
I found that peace at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss
Oh yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts, and peace to thee
God wanted me now; He set me free.
May these balloons released by Lizzie’s father Bud represent to you the joyful nature of her personality as we set her free and send her on her journey.

(Bud releases balloons signaling family on boat to release cremated remains)

 And now I invite Ken to motor to the pier for the scattering of Lizzie’s ashes.

After the ashes have been scattered, you may each wish to send your loving thoughts to Lizzie by placing your rose upon the water.

(silence as boat moves to within 100 feet of pier)

 And so now, with both grief and gratitude, on what would have been her 52nd birthday, we come to celebrate Lizzie’s life, to mourn her death, and to say goodbye. Our gratitude comes from deep within our hearts knowing that Lizzie is now at peace. She is now infinitely available to us by her memory and in Spirit and we are grateful for having had the experience of knowing Lizzie and for being a part of her life."

Let us pray:

God, we commend to You the spirit of Lizzie and commit her earthly remains to their final resting place - earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. May You bless her. May You keep her. And may Your countenance shine upon her and bring her everlasting peace. Amen.

Ken, please scatter Lizzie’s ashes. (Celebrant signals for all to toss their rose.)

In closing, I offer you this quote from St. John’s Gospel of the Bible: 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Let us pray:
Eternal spirit, Loving God our Father, before whom generations rise and pass away, we find that even in the face of death, our words can be those of thanksgiving.
We are thankful for one who shared her life with us. One for whom love and family were so important. One whose life was lived with vigor.
For the struggles of life and for the triumph of character over trial, of courage over difficulty, of faith over sorrow, we give thanks.
God grant us such strength in the memory of Lizzie that we might be thankful for the gift of life that is given to each of us, and in our hearts, may the loss of Lizzie be balanced by thanksgiving for the life that was shared with us.

This concludes our ceremony. On behalf of the family of Lizzie Edmond as well as the crew of Ashes on the Sea, I thank you for joining us today. Please join the family for a Celebration of Life brunch at the Catamaran Resort.


Example 2

These beautiful surroundings were a favorite place for ________ and it was their desire to have their physical earthly remains cast to the elements. I say physical remains, because __________’s spirit and memories will live on in us, as the waves they made in this life time resonates and flows into the future. The trails they followed in life are now still here for us, as their personality and traits will be passed on from generation to generation.

In casting the ashes of __________ to the four winds on this very special ground, we think again of all that our dear ___________ has meant and means to us. We dedicate this simple plot, amid these natural surroundings, to every beautiful and precious memory. We cast these ashes back to the gentle earth, which has been the chief support of humankind, since first they walked beneath the sun. To all human beings, to all living forms, the soil has ever provided the sustenance that is the staff of life. To that good earth we now commit the ashes of our friend. To the air that now lifts our spirits.

Now for the scattering. 

The family may now takes turns scattering the ashes, each in their own way and speak some thoughts.

We hereby cast these earthly remains, now purified by fire, lifted by the winds and returned to the earth, now and forever into eternity.

When there is death there is always new life, and now _________ will plant some wild flowers on this now sacred land. As we water these new seeds of life may the water purify this earth and nourish the spirit of _________.

Thank you all again for allowing me to be a part of this final tribute to a very special person. Thank you.

We have come here today to scatter the ashes that are all that now remains of the body of ________________. In a beautiful and ancient rite, we gave his/her body to the flames. Fire is the visible form of energy, which is the real stuff and true essence of all that appears in this world where we express ourselves through bodies and minds. A funeral pyre is like a candle burning... the candle's tallow disappears in the emerging form of the candle's glow. In the funeral pyre the fire of life in haste to call life forth again when life has faltered consumed and transformed the clay that we entrusted to it, returning all that was radiant to the radiance of the Spirit that gave it form, until at last all that is left is this handful of ash and earthiness we must now commit to the earth from which it came. These ashes were not ___________. They are merely what remains of the body s/he wore at the close of his/her sojourn here on this earth. ___________ had many bodies. First s/he had the body of a babe, then of a girl/boy, then of a grown woman/man, and finally, this body that in the funeral pyre we have returned to the fire, to the air, to the waters of the earth and to the earth itself. The ancients taught that there are four elements in the world and of these all that is - everything - is composed. These four are earth, water air and fire. Modern science confirms the findings of our fathers. It divides all things into four forms; solids, liquids, gases and energy. When you think about it, you see how true this is - we all have qualities like earth, like water, like air, like fire. There was much in ___________ that was like fire. Now all that was fire, fiery, the living fire that beat in the heart and ran in the veins, this the funeral fire has made one again with the fire that burns in the sun and stars and in every unseen, singing, dancing, fiery particle of being. There was much in ___________ that was like air. All that was like air--airy, light and irrepressible--the fire has carried upward into the encircling air to become the breath of life for living things. There was much in ___________ that was like water. All that was like water, watery, the fire has diffused into the skies, to be one with the watery vapors of the air, with clouds and rain - a renewing source of life for all living things. Finally, there was that in ___________ that was like earth. Now that which was of the earth, earthy, lies here in these few ashes. These we now return to the earth, into the cradle endlessly rocking, the womb of the world from which we were all brought forth. (Scatter the ashes, ask those present to pray silently for ____________ as you scatter the ashes). Life is a process in which we are all linked. We merge and reemerge. That which was earth returns to earth. That which was air returns to air. That which was water returns to water. That which was fire returns to fire. But we are more than earth and water, air and fire. We are Spirit. In us is the Spirit of God and that which was Spirit returns to God who gave it. "Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38.39) So let us all join at this moment of leave taking in speaking aloud together, as a blessing and farewell for ___________, our Unity Prayer for Protection. ___________, The Light of God Surrounds You The Love of God Enfolds You The Power of God Protects You The Presence of God Watches Over You Wherever You Are, God Is. Or as a final word, you can ask all to speak the foregoing paragraph and then the minister alone can repeat THE TRAVELER ___________ has put on invisibility. Dear Lord, I cannot see - But this I know, although the road ascends And passes from my sight, That there will be no night; That You will take him gently by the hand And lead him on Along the road of life that never ends, And he will find it is not death but dawn. I do not doubt that You are there as here, And You will hold him dear. Our life did not begin with birth, It is not of the earth; And this that we call death, it is no more Than the opening and closing of a door - And in Your house how many rooms must be Beyond this one where we rest momentary. Dear Lord, I thank You for the faith that frees, The love that knows it cannot lose its own; The love that, looking through the shadows, sees That You and he and I are ever one!

In the warm sunshine of that spring day, we scattered Bill's ashes at his beloved Dalonegah station. In the cool, soft rain of the night, he returned to the mountains that he adored. No longer bound by this world, but a part of it. No longer tied to one place, one time, but free. Every time you feel the warm sunshine on your face, Every time you hear the rain softly falling outside your window, No matter where you are, no matter how far you travel in this big, wide open world, Remember.

One: At the rising of the sun and at its going down. . .

All: We will remember her.One: At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter. . .

All: We will remember her.

One: At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring. . .

All: We will remember her.

One: At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer. . .

All: We will remember her.

One: At the beginning of the year and when it ends. . .

All: We will remember her, for she is now a part of us, as we remember her.

One: When we are weary and in need of strength. . .

All: We will remember her.

One: When we are lost and sick at heart. . .

All: We will remember her.

One: When we have joy and wish to share it. . .

All: We will remember her.

One: When we have decisions that are difficult to make. . .

All: We will remember her.

One: When we have achievements that are based on hers. . .

For she is now a part of us as we remember her.

Eternal God, you have shared with us the life of ______________ Before she was ours, she was yours. For all that ________________ has given us to make us what we are, for that of her which lives and grows in each of us, and for her life that in your love will never end, we give you thanks.

As now we offer _________________back into your arms, comfort us in our loneliness, strengthen us in our weakness, and give us courage to face the future unafraid. Draw those of us who remain in this life closer to one another, make us faithful to serve one another, and give us to know that peace and joy which is eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Example 3

Committal of Scattering of Ashes 

Family gathers around the area with the scattering urn on a pedestal  

Celebrant: __________ you trust us to learn to live without final answers and so we honor that mystery of life and the unknown of death, accepting your return to nature. Today we are here to return to the earth the physical elements which were once you. We release your body to be free. You are no longer bound to this world but a part of it. 

Urn is used to scatter the ashes, people gatered in a half circle UP WIND! Family and friends share in the scattering of ashes on the now sacred ground. 

Celebrant: Let us proceed in peace with these words in the spirit of prayer: Spirit of life and mystery, we pause now to be still, to breathe in each moment of life with a sense of gratitude for its gifts of beauty, love, and grace. We pause to affirm the cycles of life and death, for we know that we are all part of an endless and mysterious cycle of existence. We trust that beyond absence there is a presence. That beyond the pain there can be healing. That beyond the brokenness there can be wholeness. That beyond the anger there may be peace. That beyond the hurting there may be forgiveness. That beyond the silence there may be the word. That beyond the word there may be understanding. That through understanding there is love. 

Renewal/Look to the Future 

Celebrant: We spoke earlier about how deep, unspeakable suffering might well be called a baptism. Let’s now use water to further wash away our distress and call forth freshness in our lives. We use water, blessed with a special prayer for ____________. It has now become our Holy water to heal with. 

Celebrant pours Holy water from vial into small bowl and puts water on fingers…. 

Celebrant: I will now outline a cross on each of your foreheads: Please allow God and this sacred water to wash away any final barriers to healing. 

Celebrant moves around circle with small bowl of Holy water placing a ‘wet’ cross on each person’s forehead saying, 

Celebrant: With this Holy water I cleanse your soul. 

Celebrant moves around the circle with water for each person. 

Closing Act/Balloons 

Celebrant: We have come here today and created sacred space to forgive and say goodbye, giving ______________ is now back to the earth and elements. We pray to God every night and thank him for keeping us, our family together. We are the lucky ones. We still get to appreciate and share this wondrous world. Let’s now take these balloons and offer wishes and messages of love to ___________ to let him know he will be in our hearts and memories forever. 

The circle breaks and everyone uses a marker to write their messages. When ready we hold the balloons over in the clearing and cut the strings. Then with these words… 

Celebrant: May we now release these balloons with a renewed faith and commitment to each other and our family. We leave today with healing in our hearts and a fresh vision for our future. 

The balloons are let loose to fly off. The family stands in silence watching until it feels appropriate to gather and leave.


Example 4

In placing the ashes of ___________________ in this hollowed ground, we think again of all that our dear son, brother/sister, companion and friend meant and means to us. We dedicate this simple plot, amid these natural surroundings, to every beautiful and precious memory . We lay these ashes in that gentle earth, which has been the chief support of humankind, since first they walked beneath the sun. To all human beings, to all living forms, the soil has ever provided the sustenance that is the staff of life. To that good earth we now commit the ashes of our friend.

Now the work is left to us, the living, to carry forth the beauty and joy of that life which has been taken from us. Where we weep, Hamish would have us laugh. Where we mourn, Hamish would have us rejoice. But we know that he will forgive us our grief, for to grieve is to love, to love is to cherish, and to cherish is to give praise and thanksgiving for the life which has blessed us all.

To that life we pray courage and strength, that our frailty be forgiven, our sorrows redeemed, the wounds of our loss healed, in the sure knowledge that life moves forward and does not tarry with yesterday, and that the life before us beckons to greater glory as the only memorial that is fitting and just. Let us depart in peace and look to the morning, assured that tomorrow the sun will rise again. Life gives and life takes away: Blessed be life, above all, forever.

May the truth that makes us free, the hope that never dies and the love that casts out fear lead us forward together until the dayspring breaks, and the shadows flee away. Amen.

Now to the One who is able to keep you from falling,and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of God's glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority.


Example 5

Christian Ceremony and Committal of Ashes at Sea 

Celebrant: Caroline Flanders 







Balloon Release

Committal of Remains to the Sea


Planning an Ash Scattering Ceremony

As you plan, try to give others a sense of your experiences in life. If your grandchildren were the center of your life, organize the funeral or scattering ceremony around their play activities, or a meaningful natural setting wherever you have it, such as in a daycare center or at a playground. You can arrange to have the funeral ceremony any place you loved: a park, lake, the woods, a restaurant, an athletic field, on a boat, in a bar, at the beach, your home, or whatever location will have meaning for your family in remembering you as they knew you in life, not death.

If spiritual matters are important to you, your church or a geographical location that has inspired and empowered you might be the most appropriate location for the funeral ceremony location. As you know, funeral homes are designed to accommodate the requirements of funerals or memorial ceremonies, and that might be the most appropriate location for you - especially if it is a family business of a funeral firm where you conducted your life's work. On the other hand maybe you want to create a celebration type memorial ceremony with champagne, a brass band, party favors and your favorite food spread out on fine linen tablecloths? Maybe a more formal ceremony is appropriate, with more pomp and circumstance? Perhaps a head table, where close friends are seated who will deliver formal eulogies, might be more in keeping with your life and wishes?

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